Mystical claims and embodied knowledge in a post-metaphysical age

I referenced this paper in the Murray thread with a link to the paper here. My initial comments from the other thread:

Murray is critical of the metaphysical claims and language used by kennilinguists. And that such claims and language do not take account of the indeterministic factors he discusses. And he states that "in the postmetaphysical milieu we can no longer allow for the possibility of direct contact with 'reality' or 'true knowledge' by some privileged few" (18).

Yet we must nonetheless allow for the validity of one's feelings and perceptions of mystical states, which may not be amenable to rational or scientific analysis. While he argues for postmetaphysical notions of fallibility of belief on the one hand he seems to want to allow it on the other, with no way to adjudicate false from valid claims. And that is the postmetaphysical project, to indeed judge claims to direct experience to ultimate reality as metaphysical and thereby false. We need better ways to discern what exactly these mystical experiences are as yes, fallible best guesses for now open to revision. But they are better guesses than the metaphysical claims in a progression of worldview development.

Along that line see the thread on states, whichs attempt such a postmetaphysical recontexualization that honors the experiences but not the metaphysical interpretations. Also my thread on states and stages is another such attempt.

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On p. 2 Murray said of Wilber's and Cohen's mystical claims: "They invite forms of 'magical thinking' and 'misplaced concreteness,' even if those offering the claims do not succumb to them." But succumb to them they do indeed. See e.g. this thread. Murray wonders how we can honor such experiences yet contextualize them postmetaphysically. I again refer those interested to the links in the first post.

P. 11 notes that in postmetaphysics foundationalism is replaced with fallibilism. He points out though that while Wilber agrees he nonetheless wants to include both, using direct, privileged access to reality per se. (Again, see my criticisms in the links above.) On 12 he starts a discussion of L&J's Philosophy in the Flesh, which I've also used to ground (embody) metaphysical claims. E.g.:

"The mind [...] has a tendency to treat conceptual boundaries and black-and-white, as well defined boxes that things either fall within or outside of--but this is almost never the case" (14).

On p. 19 and following he offers "meaning generativity" as a validity criteria for spiritual pursuits. As long as mystical experiences provide meaning that is justification enough, with apparently no means to evaluate the meanings given to the experiences. One can't 'prove' which meanings are better than others, for that's a scientific validity criteria. It sounds like the non-overlapping magisteria argument. This is where I have to disagree and side more with a meta-theory like onto-cartography, since one can indeed evaluate a domain's validity by juxtaposing and comparing it with other domain validity criteria. The domains check and balance each other, since they not only overlap a bit but also all of them have need of a central universal/particular like differance to connect/separate them.

I posted a link to this thread on FB.  Here is one of the responses (the only substantial one so far):

Tom Huston:  A great paper, though I disagree with a few of Tom's premises, such as the presumed "need" to justify metaphysical truth-claims in a context of seemingly contradictory a priori metaphysical truth-claims (namely, secularism or scientific materialism). The other appropriate response to scientistic interlocutors is to deconstruct their own metaphysical ideology before their eyes, since most naively assume they aren't operating within one. Unfortunately, Tom seems to support this belief: "In a sense the history of metaphysical thought can be told in terms a succession of scientific understandings replacing metaphysical concepts..." He makes a strong distinction throughout the paper on science being a valid process of inquiry, even if it reifies some of its own knowledge gaps into conceptual abstractions (dark matter, dark energy, etc.), while positing metaphysics as mere "revealed" phallogocentrism. Wilber, from "Eye to Eye" through "Marriage of Sense and Soul," makes strong cases to the contrary. And the history of successive "understandings" within any longstanding metaphysical or mystical tradition also support the idea that mysticism is a valid means of knowledge, subject to revision and consensual falsification or verification over time, just as science is (cf. Sam Harris's support for this as well in "The End of Faith").
This is also why I don't subscribe to the idea of "postmetaphysics," as if Kant's discovery of con- and per-ceptual relativity was itself an absolute to be prostrated before. And it's why Rajiv Malhotra's work, respecting Indic philosophical perspectives and truth claims as being at least on par with "Western" ones, is so important...especially his deconstructions of traditional-modern-postmodern development schemas as universals. His work offers a lens through which many integral arguments and claims of "post-ness" completely fall apart, or at least have their essentialism dropped down a notch or two.

As I recall from another thread Huston was very much under a metaphysics of presence and essentialism,* both refuted by postmetaphysics. And no, postmetaphysics doesn't subscribe to either and are just unconscious of it.

* Like in this thread.

" From everything that i've experienced in life, and everything that i've studied, at this time, i believe that the best explanation to explain existence is atheism (non-dual mysticism, that Jesus is God, that post-metaphysics means traditional metaphysics is in error, etc….etc…) but i should humbly concede that there is an element of fallibility in any knowing that i have."

This is what i've long suggested as the most pragmatic path to extremely complex issues. The talking monkey is 150 years past the plough and although in that time, the talking monkey has made many advances, it has also brought every living system to near dying status with it's technology without compassion or wisdom. 10,000 years of archaic religion without technology would not have done this.

My recent response to Tom:  Tom, I'd be interested to hear what you also found "great" about Murray's paper (to contextualize your criticisms of it).  I finally finished reading it and do notice a cautious agnosticism in it, but I wouldn't go so far as to say Murray is acting as an apologist for materialism or secularism.  (Whenever there is mention of 'secularism,' particularly in a critical light, I like to bring in Fr. Raimon Panikkar, who sees in 'secularism' an important and to-be-welcomed valuation of time, becoming, and immanence...i.e., as powerfully contributory to -- and complementary with -- nondual, perichoretic, and 'radically relational' forms of emergent spirituality).  Murray's reflections *may* be interpreted as a self-contradictory call to justify mystical metaphysical truth claims in the context of un-justified materialist metaphysics, but concluding that would seem to lead us to a non-generative stand-off, or to the conclusion that his arguments can and should therefore be ignored.  But more than the themes of secularism or materialism, I hear in his paper a concern with epistemological responsibility (and reflexivity), the philosophical and ethical challenges of translating insights across knowledge domains or disciplinary boundaries, and with taking seriously the insights (and possible contributions of) cognitive science, linguistics, hermeneutics, critical thought, etc, to modern spiritual/mystical discourse.  We can choose simply to ignore these things, but taking them seriously does *not* necessarily entail absolutizing them or bowing to them; it means, minimally, that we at least enter into generative dialogue with them.  I prefer this to the defensive move to deconstruct the naive materialist metaphysics of our interlocutors (something I don't think Murray embraces) in order to protect our own preferred mystical views from 'materialist' criticism.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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