RE: MF April 2004 - Metaphysics and the mystical reality.

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Apr 11 2004 - 00:13:48 BST

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "RE: MF April 2004 - Metaphysics and the mystical reality."

    Hello MOQer focers:

    I was quite pleased and surprised to see that the topic has been held over
    for another month. Thank you. Please allow me to re-assert the issue as it
    was originally concieved. Because of the requirement that the topic be
    presented as a 'yes or no' question, my suggestion took this particular

    Does Pirsig's work help us sort out the distinctions between metaphysics and
    the mystical reality?

    But the truth is that the issue I've tried to raise doesn't really fit into
    'yes or no' question. (In fact, I think we should get rid of that
    requirement. Not that the harm is great, just that it does no good at all.)
    In any case, I hope you'll cut me some slack on this, fellow philosophers.
    The question is NOT really about whether or not Pirsig "helps". Only the
    stingiest of philosophers would refuse to admit that he is of at least SOME
    help. But let me repeat this crucial point; The issue I've tried to raise
    here is about the meaning of distinction. The last thing I had in mind was a
    narrow, hair-splitting debate about the use of terms. I hope we can get at
    something with more soul and substance. Please don't be distracted by the
    clumsy way I formed the question. Just because it can't be squeezed into a
    'yes or no' question certainly doesn't mean it is an unimportant question.
    (I wonder if any interesting questions can be answered so simply.) Instead,
    look at the central terms of the question; metaphysics and the mystical
    reality. That's what I'm asking about. By sorting out the differences
    between philosophical mysticism and the mystic reality itself, I hope to get
    at the very center of the MOQ, to help us focus on the heart of it. Mystical
    reality and metaphyisics are contradictory terms, but they are at the core
    of the MOQ because it is essentially a metaphysics of mystical reality...

    "Quality is indivisible, undefinable and unknowable in the sense that there
    is a knower and known, but a metaphysics can be none of these things. A
    metaphysics must be divisible, definable, and knowable, or there isn't any
    metaphysics. Since a metaphysics is essentially a kind of dialectical
    definition and since Quality is essentially outside definition, this means
    that a 'MoQ' is essentially a contradiction in terms." (LILA ch5)

    At this point last month, Sam raised a question about Pirsig's use of the
    term "Quality". Please, let's say that my question or the use of this quote
    my have legitmately raised the question in Sam's imagination, but my
    question is not about the use of the term, nor was the quote originally
    included becasue of its use. Instead, the quote tells us what the MOQ is in
    essence while it also points out one of the major distinctions between
    metaphysics and the mystical reality. The former must have definitions while
    the latter is beyond all definitions. This is a very clear line and a decent
    place to start the discussion, no? We see this same distinction even more
    fully in this quote where Zen meditators, Indian payote eaters and "some of
    the most honored philosophers in history" all "share a common belief", one
    that draws the same line...

    "Some of the most honored philosophers in history have been mystics:
    Plotinus, Swedenborg, Loyola, Shankaracharya and many others. They share a
    common belief that the fundamental nature of reality is outside language;
    that language splits things up into parts while the true nature of reality
    is undivided. Zen, which is a mystic religion, argues that the illusion of
    dividedness can be overcome by meditation. The Native American Church argues
    that peyote can force-feed a mystic understanding upon those who were
    normally resistant to it,..." LILA (ch 5)

    The true nature of reality is undivided. That's the pre-intellectual cutting
    edge of experience. But language and intellect divide by their very nature
    and create an illusion of seperateness. Again, he's drawing the same line
    and I find it only fitting that this distinction is widely recognized from
    both philosophical and religious perspectives. It tells us that Pirsig is
    not alone in this and it tells us what sorts of mystical perspectives are
    most comparable to and compatible with Pirsig's views.

    So far, this post has only been concerned with re-setting the original
    question. I'm trying to explain that we ought not get bogged down in
    discussing the distinction between this term and that or between this
    thought or that. I'm trying to focus the discussion on the distinction
    between thoughts and terms on the one hand and the mystical reality that is
    beyond all thoughts and terms on the other. Even further, I was hoping that
    we'd get practical and personal on this one because the distinction, the
    line if you prefer, is between static intellect and dynamic experience,
    between the illusion of dividedness that plauges all mankind and the unitive
    transforming experience that shatters said illusion.

    "American Indian mysticism is the same platypus in a world divided primarily
    into classic and romantic patterns as under a subject-object division. When
    an American Indian goes into isolation and fasts in order to achieve a
    vision, the vision he seeks is not a romantic understanding of the surface
    beauty of the world. Neither is it a vision of the world's classic
    intellectual forms. It is something else. Since the whole metaphysics had
    started with an attempt to explain Indian mysticism Phaedrus finally
    abandoned this classic-romantic split as a primary division of the MOQ."


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