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

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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.

Cleaning up the mess

My job is just to clean up the mess.

I asked how we should eliminate the false and retain the true, and your answer was 'scientists determine that.' You also say I don't understand science, because you think I don't know science only describes what is. But I know this is false--science does not describe what is; science describes what science can perceive. There are things not quantifiable by science which exist.

Take truth, for example--you are certain truth exists, because you said you would prefer truth over falsehood--by which you meant, apparently, you will only believe in what is verifiable by scientific criteria. You define reality by the same criteria, and dismiss things like "being" and "consciousness" and "experience," which is laughable and defies common sense, precisely because these things are not scientifically verifiable. Your demand for truth over falsehood is a demand for accurate information, but information is processed only by consciousness, by a sentient, self-aware being, which must sort out and make sense of that information and give it meaning. Without individuals to ascribe meaning to information, truth does not exist as you define it, and yet you confidently say that you know what is true because it corresponds to the reality which you have perceived by your own Wittgenstienian criteria.

Justin: That's tantamount to saying something is true if it is true.

Jerome: No, that would be tautologous.

Jerome, that was exactly my point. The criteria you establish through Wittgenstein holds true on the material plane, where consciousness is unrecognized as a source of authority and scientific criteria alone determines what reality IS. But when it comes to mysticism, which is founded on the assumption that the private individual, the singular being, can encounter a plane of reality science cannot touch, defining true propositions as that which corresponds with reality IS tautologous--what is perceived in the mystical experience is what corresponds with mystically perceived reality. It's just a basic fundamental of mysticism. Part of this whole experience involves a shedding of understanding "reality" as that which exists in a material world.

So you can "list the "private/social" distinction as a derivative of idealistic forms of thinking, and therefore as misleading and false," but what you are essentially doing, then, is approaching mysticism with the assumption that idealistic forms of thinking should be subject to your materialistic standards (by which those forms subsequently fail). This is like (metaphor here, don't freak out) chopping your legs off so that you can run a race. You seem very frustrated because we cannot communicate mysticism in the manner you prefer, but you are the one closing the door. You can only enter this particular facet of religious experience by suspending your confident reliance on the rules of material reality. This is called, commonly, faith. Without taking some things on faith, you can't 'get it.' I would invite you to try this "faith," but I know you get livid when people "push their religion on you."

Jerome: Though poetic in nature, your observation [the mermaid metaphor] doesn't wash [was that a pun? I like it :)]: 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!

Look at the terms you're using--"false," "reality." We are both speaking English, true, but we are both saying very different things about concepts denoted by the same words. You say my metaphor creates dichotomies that don't pertain to reality (which I would've liked you to expand on)--the dichotomy is between your definition of "false" and my definition of "false," your definition of "reality" and my definition of "reality." My definition cannot sustain your definition, and yours cannot sustain mine. Thus the "realities" we hold to ARE two different environs, and what is "true" and what is "false" are not the same from place to place.

Justin: And what is necessary to survive in one is fatal in the other.

Jerome: Again, I haven't moved!

I know--your "reality" is constituted in part, it seems, by your understanding that language provides a universal context which should bring us to common ground; but language is dependent upon the meanings ascribed to concepts described through words, which hinges on individual and unverifiable thought. My "reality," in simple contrast to yours, includes the assumption that language alone is insufficient to describe reality, and that Universal Meaning lies beyond the stretch of language.

You chastise Philosophy in general for wrestling with these questions and going in circles for centuries. But the materialistic push of the past centuries has not circumvented the philosophical difficulties presented in the existential questions of being--it has simply ignored them. Pretending that "a true proposition one that corresponds with what exists in reality" is an argument attempting to empower those who define reality a particular way, and override those who don't by proving their propositions to be false--it is not a definition of a true proposition at all, but an attempt at defining reality through degrees of verifiability. The philosophical dilemma of Aristotle and Plato has not been resolved, only dodged, and not very successfully, though you can still ridicule their theories. Some of them are rather cute.

"You're confusing logic with metaphysics."
"..."God" is at root a metaphysical category."

I'm glad you agree that "God" is a term not approachable through logic. It resolves a lot of the tension between our two perspectives, because you can see that logic does not apply to the category in which God exists or is true; your materialistic criteria for truth is a sound criteria for most categories, but is insufficient for all categories. Frankly I find it hard to understand, given these two statements, why there's really any conflict at all.

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

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

I read it carefully. I think you misunderstood my own point. I showed that by your FIRST statement, your SECOND statement carried little weight. You say you 'put aside that [first] argument,' but you only deemphasized it; you claimed that while it was a problem which needed addressing it was not the part of the problem we should focus on. Your claim that "God" was an empty abuse of language was your main claim, and my point was that by your FIRST point, your SECOND point seems... ill put; perhaps, by your FIRST claim and Wittgenstein's criteria, it is YOUR statement that is the abuse of language.

Justin: ...Your claim that "God" is meaningless is only partially true from one singular perspective

Jerome: 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."

("You're confusing logic with metaphysics."
"..."God" is at root a metaphysical category.")

You would try to judge with mathematics that which you would not subject to logic?

Justin: Your final conclusion, that the failure to understand and embrace [your] 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.

Jerome: How so? Provide evidence.

Justin: See above.


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

Jerome: Finally, some confession: this I like!

It was all confession, not just the juicy, "liberal" bits. I'm not embarrassed to say that conceptions of God form an integral part of human society, and that many of those conceptions are inadequate and do not correspond to reality. All of those conceptions are inadequate, actually. Which is why I appreciate mysticism, which is an attempt to get beyond conceptions. The incorrect use of "God" does not preclude the existence of a "God" which DOES correspond with reality. Is that God a concept? An experience? A reality? Mysticism proposes certain answers, which are not subject to logical criteria for reasons I will not presently continue to hammer.

Jerome: If it is, as you say, a human construction then why is it necessary?

Ask the humans who constructed it. Perhaps they are attempting to convey, express, protect something beyond words, through the only means available--words. For all the social theory that should put religion to bed, I know of no human society that has existed without supernatural beliefs of some kind (can you think of any? I can't off the top of my head). Modern societies enamored with materialism are moving in that direction, but even then the transformation is very far from complete; the atheist experiment of the USSR failed miserably, and in China religion quietly hums along. Religion flourishes exponentially in the face of resistance. Why? Because, I think, faith, a "God" concept, even when inadequate or inaccurate, is a stab in the right direction, an expression of the conviction that there is... more. I don't have the words to describe this "more."

Jerome: And furthermore, why can religion not be seen as an exclusively private venture, not prone to the concommitants of politics and theory?

Remember what you wrote earlier? "I list the "private/social" distinction as a derivative of idealistic forms of thinking, and therefore as misleading and false." To the extent that you are correct in this statement, you have answered your own question.

Justin: 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.

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

I think, rather, I'm attributing severe limitation to the human capacity for language [I did look at the link, btw; its very interesting stuff).

Jerome: 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 misconception of science, I think.

I would say that I understand it as you have put it, that the "facts science describes simply ARE what they are." But I don't labor under the illusion that scientific facts are synonymous with truth and reality, and am very much aware that people who ascribe to scientific process as a way of life have turned a process into a belief system, a way of building reality, and they can get very dogmatic when you challenge the notion that science should have that kind of authority. This is, in particular circles, scientific dogmatism.

Justin: How do we eliminate the false and retain the true?

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

And I hope that you succeed :)

Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life;
And these are they which bear witness of me;
And ye will not come to me, that ye may have life. (John 5:39-40)