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


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. [Science is not mrerely a tool for quantification. It is princially a method applied to phemomena ("things which are appearing") that seeks to describe the material/processes involved in those phenomena, nothing more. You're getting dangerously close to setting up a straw man.]

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. ["If I bend the blade of my plow, this is what I do". You have to remember that "truth" is just a word.] 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. [No, you are mistaken here. In the same way I cannot point to "truth", I cannot point to "consciousness" or any of these other terms. They are just terms. Also, I've pointed out the problems in "common sense" in previous posts.] 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. [You assume the existence of "information": perhaps you should question that belief? Also, as I pointed out before, we are using different definitions of "meaning": I mean by "meaning" what a proposition refers to ("A barn means a building in which grain is stored"), whereas you mean "that Teddy Bear means something to me". These are different meanings of "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. [Not true. Whether I am sitting in a room or not, the objects in that room *are*. Again, you are presuming the existence of "information" or "data", which you should not do.]

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. [You are following in a long line of failures and misrepresentations here--the argument for the existence of a "private" (internal) langauge is tenuous at best. I wrote of this to Willbulow in a previous post.] It's just a basic fundamental of mysticism. [And therefore, why it is wrong.] Part of this whole experience involves a shedding of understanding "reality" as that which exists in a material world. [As opposed to what?]

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). [Why should they not? Would you propose the other alternative? In that case, I refer you to the writings of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger and any number of other charlatans who proposed such nonsense.] This is like (metaphor here, don't freak out) chopping your legs off so that you can run a race [That's a rather vulgar image, don't you think? I would more liken it to an evolutionary progression in our understanding of the relation between ideas and the world which they represent.]. You seem very frustrated because we cannot communicate mysticism in the manner you prefer, but you are the one closing the door [No, I am merely asking what any sensical person would of you: rational argument. If you cannot offer this then I see no reason in debating with you, as you are unwilling to escape the tower of dogmatics]. You can only enter this particular facet of religious experience by suspending your confident reliance on the rules of material reality [I prefer those rules.] This is called, commonly, faith [One should never believe anything merely on the basis of faith: see Pascal's horrendous example.]. Without taking some things on faith, you can't 'get it.' [Perhaps there is nothing to 'get'?] I would invite you to try this "faith," but I know you get livid when people "push their religion on you." [No, it upsets me, though, when individuals who I am criticising refer to dogmatics in order to refute my criticism. That's sloth.]

Jerome: Though poetic in nature, your observation [the mermaid metaphor] doesn't wash [was that a pun? I like it :)] [I thought it appropriate : ) --JW]: 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) [I can do that: the problem with that metaphor (as with most allegorical thinking) is that it entails certain pretensions, such as the idea of a fundamental "difference" in the way you and I perceive the world, which I find irrational and unfounded, and furthermore misleading. The same argument was used by the priestly classes in former societies to propo up their hold on political power--that they had a "special" access to language that the lay individual did not. This is the false dichotomy I refer to. (see here)]--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 [THe problem with what you have just said is that it is entirely superfluous: we already *have* agreed upon meanings of these words, and therefore I'm not sure what exactly you mean by "your" and "my" definition. Again, there are simple rules which are established in the grammar of language, accessible to anyone.]. 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. [Please! You're sounding more the Sartrean every day!]

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 [not universal, just existent]; but language is dependent upon the meanings ascribed to concepts described through words, which hinges on individual and unverifiable thought. [Again, you have a confused, idealistic understanding of language. See the above link.] 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. ["Universal Meaning"? Please!]

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 [which are arguably not the place of philosophy in the first place!]--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 utter ridiculousness of what you have said is immediately apparant: the rules or logic are not prone to "empowerment"--they are merely a forumla by which to understand and interpret, compare and analyze anything. I don't understand how the law of identity or a logical proposition "do" anything more than articulate a statement in the most clear and rational sense. I think you have a skewed perspective of logic.]]. The philosophical dilemma of Aristotle and Plato has not been resolved, only dodged, [evidence?] and not very successfully,[evidence?] though you can still ridicule their theories. Some of them are rather cute. [No, on the contrary: Wittgenstein and others like hiim have shown that the so-called "probelms of philosophy" are nothing more than the end result of centuries of misuse of language. I would hardly see how this is "doging" anything!]

"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 [Metaphysical propositions are neither provable nor refutable by logic, which renders them useless or nonsensical.]. 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 ["God" is a term like any other. The problem with it is, though, that I cannot qualify it without immediately resorting to a priori, metaphysical propositions. As I have pointed out elsewhere, it is therefore meaningless.]; your materialistic criteria for truth is a sound criteria for most categories, but is insufficient for all categories [No, you've got the tables turned--it is not logic that is wrong, but you.]. Frankly I find it hard to understand, given these two statements, why there's really any conflict at all. [Well then, you obviously don't see the problem with what you've said.]

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. [How clever, pointing fingers now, are we?]

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? [I think you've completely misunderstood me, otherwise you wouldn't appear so smug.]

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. [No evidence thus far, sorry.]


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 [But why do we need it when we can do this without reliance on dogmatics?]. 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. [Again, I refer you to Ayer's quote above. Who is so pretentious as to arrogate themselves above the simple demands of logic (soundness and validity)? Seems rather childish to me.]

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." [I think, rather, it is a tool to justify the current system of social relations, as Marx has pointed out, nothing 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. [I was referring to the distinction between "private" (internal) and "social" (external) language. What you do in the privacy of your own home is your business.]

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). [But, again, you're assuming a state "beyond language", when, as far as we know language is "hard wired" into our brain (is something we physically cannot be without)].

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.{You're looking in the wrong scientific circles then.]

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 :)

[As do I :).]

" alterius non sit qui suus esse potest "