The Scale of Perfection, Book 2, Part 1 – Chapter 4

dohpeterchina's picture

That through the Sacrament of Baptism (which is grounded in the Passion of Christ) this Image is reformed from Original Sin

This is chapter 6 of The Scale of Perfection – Book 2 in Middle English:
That thorugh the sacrament of baptym that is groundid in the passioun of Crist this image is reformed fro the original synne.

jnwarren's picture

"Would you walk into a

"Would you walk into a church, participate in a service, and then chastise them for preaching to you about Jesus?"

There are many conditions (both social and historical) whose existence overrides the demands imposed by the given situation-- so, yes, I've had many discussions of politics and theory in and out of church (in particular, how bad of a poet Mao was sticks out in my mind as a repeated subject of conversation!)

"But I think Will is correct when he says that mysticism as a subject isn't subject to the same rules of logic and evidence upon which scientific discourse is grounded."

This is possible, but I think in that sense they (religious thoeries) may be more primitive and less useful, not to mention less resilient and diverse, than other advancements in theorizing. FOr instance, if I find an ancient artifact--a bowl of sorts--would it be more valuable to us (human beings) as a specimin for scientific study, or would I eat cereal out of it? (I would claim that since our ability to make bowls has arguably advanced--in terms of their material components-- in the last 10,000 years, the former use would hold more potential gain than the latter)

"Wittgenstein might say that a true proposition is one that corresponds with what exists in reality, but when you look at it from the "mystical" point of view, that's tantamount to saying something is true if it is true."

No, that would be tautologous. A great application of W's theory of "truth" is to mathematical propositions, which are not necesarily dependent upon the external world for proof (see 6.22-6.32 of the _Tractatus_ for this)--"2+2=13" is "true" in a system utilizing a set of four integers (0, 1, 2 and 3), but in a set of ten integers (e.g., 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), would require translation. In a technical sense then, "2+2=13" is both "true" and "false", which goes to show the dependency of the conditions tied to those terms upon existing rules (of logic..., of grammar..., etc.), something W wrote more extensively of in later writings (especially _PI_ and _OC_).

"and I think that most of the individuals here have gathered to explore or discuss mysticism not as a socio-religious phenomenon, but as a personal activity or endeavor .... As a personal endeavor, mysticism is quite subjective, and though communication of the subjective is tricky"

I list the "private/social" distinction as a derivative of idealistic forms of thinking, and therefore as misleading and false. [I could go into more detail about this, if you like]

"Mysticism describes an interior journey which the vocabulary of psychology and the rules of science can only touch on externally"

Again, see the above.

"your frustration is the frustration of a human trying to live among mermaids

Hardly. Though poetic in nature, your observation doesn't wash: you're setting up false dichotomies that, again, do not pertain to reality. If invisible unicorns existed (or talking lions), I could probably not understand them, but we are both speaking English: obviously not a problem!

"--these are different environs"

How so? We are using hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) to access this site, as does the New York _Times_ or Facebook. I hardly understand how this constitutes a "different environ".

"and what is necessary to survive in one is fatal in the other."

Again, I haven't moved!

"We can discuss the historical developments of mysticism, and can theorize on the social conditions and philosophical influences which lead to particular mystical movements or ideas, but that is not the same thing as discourse on the mystical experience, which, having risen up in history and society over time for a variety of reasons and in a multitude of conditions, is nevertheless something one experiences first and attempts to convey second"

You are assuming such a thing as "experience". That might be problematic.

"--this seems unfair to the non-mystic, who might feel excluded or hostile towards those who refuse to communicate plainly the information he seeks. But the non-communication, or the inadequate communication, is the consequence of the futility of endeavoring to do precisely that."

Or perhaps it's a sign of the absurdity of the original argument? Gosh, if I'd had your precocity in grade school, I'd never have had to do any work!

"But there is quite a conflict between the two statements. The reason God is an ambiguous term, you argue, is because we don't all agree on what the term means. "

Actually there isn't. As you can see, I put aside that (very real) aspect of the problem.

"But you also say that according to Wittgenstein, a true proposition is one corresponding to something in reality, and therein lies the rub--if a true proposition about God exists (that God is X), then statements to the contrary (God is not X), which some may even ascribe to, are inherently false. By this fairly direct logic, the conclusion that we must all agree on what God is before we can engage in fruitful (meaningful) discussion about God is also shown to be false--one party may not agree with another party, but by the rules you have established through Wittgenstein one party may be right (their claims corresponding to reality) while another party might be wrong (their claims not corresponding to reality)."

You're confusing logic with metaphysics. Anyone by your rule can say "change is the only absolute" or "time is the measure of change", but those are, at root, dogmatic & meaningless statements which cannot be proven or disproven and are deviations from proper logic. [see Aristotle's ridiculous "predicative theory of identity" in regards to this] The same can be said for "God", a term even Kant was not able to prove the existence of.

"Your further conclusion, then, that "God" refers to absolutely nothing, is groundless by the first criteria you established"

Again, I put aside that argument. Read what I've written more clearly.

"(how do we know that our confusion of terms, and not the errors of a particular party, are the real problem?)"

Because "God" is at root a metaphysical category, and empty of meaning, like "consciousness", "being" and a whole number of other metaphysical concepts which are groundless.

"and without a priori reasoning is but your own personal opinion, borrowed perhaps from one of the greats, or a conclusion reached on your own merit."

Or the end result of a simple process of modal logic? Are we unwilling to take our own medicine?

"Yet your claim that "God" is a nonsensical term is just but one claim among many--to insist that this opinion prevail as the answer to our real trouble in discourse, the hindrance to our own limited understandings of the way the world actually works, is to insist that your understanding corresponds with reality ("God is X/God is False") and that all other understanding is incorrect ("God is not X/God is not False"), when you know very well that while "God" or "the good" might be scientifically meaningless, science is not the realm of morality in the first place."

I am not speaking here of morality, however. As far as the other is concerned, I am stating neither that "God" is 'true' nor 'false', but pointing out that it is a meaningless term, empty of reference. Therefore, it can neither be 'true' nor 'false'.

" "God is False/God is X," as you claim scientifically--or rationally, or materialistically, whichever paradigm we ascribe the claim to--but "God is True," under a different paradigm--morally, ethically, spiritually, philosophically--is as equally valid a claim as "God is False." "

Again, see the above.

"A shape may be both a square and a rectangle, and likewise your claim that "God" is meaningless is only partially true from one singular perspective."

I suppose if you call logic a "singular perspective", then yes, this would be the case. I, however, would side with A.J. Ayer on this, who writes that "if a philosophical viewpoint I devised contradicted the findings of mathematics, I would abandon it rather than mathematics as false". But, again, I'm sure your answer to this will be rather cogent.

"Your final conclusion, that the failure to understand and embrace this conception of "God" has resulted in centuries of philosophical or societal abuse, seems then to leap bounds over the own rational criteria you have established."

How so? Provide evidence.

" "God" is a human construction of morality but is also an essential part of human living and society, "

Finally, some confession: this I like! If it is, as you say, a human construction then why is it necessary? And furthermore, why can religion not be seen as an exclusively private venture, not prone to the concommitants of politics and theory. I see no harm in your believing this or the other (that the moon is made of green cheese, for instance), as long as those views do not impinge on others' rights to community ahnd diversity of opinion. I cite the axample of Roy Moore, the "Ten Commandments Judge" (of my own home state of Alabama nonetheless), who was asked by the United States Supreme Court to remove the monument to the Decalogue (which he had erected at his own expense) in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery. Apparantly (according to the U.S. Supreme Court) religion is *not* an essential feature of *public* (civil) life.

"an integral part of what I will call finite existence (because it's faster than getting into a debate about quantitative conceptualization), and that "God" is part of a reality that science does not correspond with at all."

That might be your opinion, but I prefer truth over dishonesty.

"Mysticism recognizes both the scientific and the spiritual, even when by their own rules they stand opposed to one another."

I, from my experience, am doubtful of this.

"At the higher levels of mysticism--I'm told--even the facade of language is stripped away from the individual, an experience that breaks (to wax poetic) the fetters of dogmatisms, be they religious or scientific,"

There are numerous deep-seeded issues in this statement that I simply cannot ignore:

You are attributing properties to the human capacity for language that are arguably not possible [see here ].

Additionally, science (at least its most significant and noteworthy contributions) are devoid of dogmatics. The facts science describes simply *are* what they are, in other words. You have a misconception of science, I think.

"Shall we let the scientific paradigm of rational proof decide the reality of God's existence?"

I certainly think that's wiser than spinning a roullette wheel!

"Shall we ignore the scientific paradigm altogether and cling to dogmatic notions about reality that are not born out?"


"How do we eliminate the false and retain the true?"

That's for scientists to determine. My job is just to clean up the mess.

" alterius non sit qui suus esse potest "