Epistemology vs. Atheism

Epistemologist
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Epistemology vs. Atheism

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. Epistemology divides knowledge into three categories: 1) Rationalism, 2) Empiricism, 3) Intuitionism.

 

From the perspective of rationalism, empiricism and intuitionism are rejected because they are irrational. Empiricism rejects rationalism and intuitionism because they are unempirical. And thirdly, intuitionism rejects rationalism and empiricism because they are unintuitive e.g. intuitionist mathematics considers itself epistemologically superior to rationalist mathematics.

 

Atheists, for some strange reason, usually take the side of rationalism, and therefore reject empiricism and intuitionism without even thinking about them. For example, atheists say that they reject intuitionism (including mysticism), simply because it is irrational. See this list of irrational precepts rejected by atheists: http://www.rationalresponders.com/hamurookis_irrational_precepts

 

In that list, atheists reject mystical knowledge (intuitionism) simply because it is irrational. Atheists therefore reject a huge swath of mathematics, which is intuitionism. This article introduces intuitionism: http://www.philosophyprofessor.com/philosophies/intuitionism.php

 

Of course intuitionism is irrational. That’s why it’s called ‘intuitionism’ and not ‘rationalism’. And of course empiricism is irrational, simply because empiricism is the opposite of rationalism.

 

In summary, atheists usually say that they reject ideas simply on the basis of whether or not they are rational. But by doing that, atheists are rejecting empiricism and intuitionism without even thinking i.e. atheism actually discourages thinking in this respect. Atheists are therefore not the ‘deeper thinkers’ that they claim to be. Atheists therefore actually think less about the boundary between knowledge and belief than do epistemologists.

 

To help clarify my position, I am neither an atheist, nor a theist. I am an epistemologist. I am therefore open to all three categories of knowledge – rationalism, empiricism, and intuitionism.


nigelTheBold
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This is a fallacy of

This is a fallacy of composition. Not all atheists are rationalists, and so it is illogical to ascribe rationalism to all atheists.

As for the rationalist atheists, many of us accept a combination of rationalism and empiricism. Science itself is an epistemology that relies on both rationalism and empiricism. It assumes that we can objectively observe reality (empiricism), and that reality is consistent and coherent (rationality).

I would certainly disregard "intuitionism" (especially mysticism) as a way of obtaining knowledge of objective reality. However, intuitionism might certainly allow a person to gain subjective knowledge of themself. The fact that "intuitionism" leads to different conclusions (and all those conclusions are generally considered equal) indicates it is not a source of objective knowledge.

As for rejecting epistemologies without thinking about them: how would you know? You have no clue what an individual does or does not do, or which subjects they have or have not thought deeply.

I reject intuitionism as a path for objective knowledge for the simple fact that it is a very unreliable process. It does not consistently produce practical results.

I do not reject the utility of intuitionism. My wife relies on her intuition when dealing with people, and I have never met someone better at judging personal situations and arriving at a good (and often strangely logical) solution. In fact, when it comes to analyzing interpersonal situations, my wife is so far better than I (and pretty much everyone I've had the pleasure of meeting), it's scary.

That skill does not translate to discovering truths about reality outside of interpersonal interactions, though. And she would be the first to admit it.

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Epistemologist wrote:

Epistemologist wrote:

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. Epistemology divides knowledge into three categories: 1) Rationalism, 2) Empiricism, 3) Intuitionism.

False Choice. These are not the only kinds of epistemology. For example, I'm an epistemological pragmatist.

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From the perspective of rationalism, empiricism and intuitionism are rejected because they are irrational. Empiricism rejects rationalism and intuitionism because they are unempirical. And thirdly, intuitionism rejects rationalism and empiricism because they are unintuitive e.g. intuitionist mathematics considers itself epistemologically superior to rationalist mathematics.

Pragmatism incorporates rationalism if and when it is useful.  Pragmatism incorporates empiricism if and when it is useful. Pragmatism incorporates intuitionism if and when it is useful.

It just so happens that when rationalism or empiricism apply, they are almost always more useful than intuition alone. Even intuitionist mathematicians would admit this.

By the way, you are conflating different philosophies based on intuition with a single category of 'intuitionism'. *Modern* intuitionist mathematics has almost zero connection with mysticism. To bait-and-switch one for the other is a kind of fallacy of equivocation.

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Atheists, for some strange reason, usually take the side of rationalism, and therefore reject empiricism and intuitionism without even thinking about them. For example, atheists say that they reject intuitionism (including mysticism), simply because it is irrational.

I'm an atheist. I'm a pragmatist, and a rationalist. And I also see the value in intuition. So, your argument falls apart (ironically, by examining the evidence a la empiricism).

Intuition is very often useful. However, strong intuitionists, such as mystics, usually do not understand or acknowledge the serious limitations of intuition. It is this failure which causes the conflict between rationalism and intuitionism.

Intuition can be nicely defined as our brain's natural ability to make pretty good guesses. The problem arises because our brains are the product of evolution. Evolution is notorious for finding 'pretty good' solutions to problems, without finding 'perfect' solutions. Our brains are perfect (irony) examples of this. Intuition is plagued with systemic, and systematic flaws, derived from our evolved biases.

One simple example of such a systemic flaw of intuition is our natural tendency to accept things as true based on what the majority believes, or based on what an authority believes. These flawed, biased tendencies are called 'fallacies'. In this case, the two fallacies mentioned are argumentum ad populum and argumentum ad verecundiam, or in English, argument from the people and argument from authority.

Rational thought is a culturally learned system of thinking which attempts to correct such systematic errors of intuition. It is built on top of intuition, but it is not strictly intuitionist because it requires that intuition conform to an often counter-intuitive system. However counter-intuitive, the system corrects real flaws of intuition. As a result, you get better answers when you follow a rational system than when you follow intuition alone. Hence, rationalism is also useful.

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In that list, atheists reject mystical knowledge (intuitionism) simply because it is irrational.

I don't, and I'm an atheist. I reject most mystical 'knowledge' because it is *not* knowledge, because it is not useful. See my article on pragmatism and prediction for how I determine what is useful or not.

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Atheists therefore reject a huge swath of mathematics, which is intuitionism.

You're overstating the importance of intuitionism. Intuitionists tend to think it's very important, but most mathematicians don't pay it much attention. I've never heard of a significant mathematical result derived strictly from intuitionism.

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And of course empiricism is irrational, simply because empiricism is the opposite of rationalism.

Where do you get that from? They are not opposites. At worst, they are complementary. At best, they can be considered similar in that they are both systematic extensions and corrections of our natural intuition. More so, one can be used to defend the other: Rationalism is empirical because the evidence shows that rationalism works; empiricism is rational if you understand the mathematical basis of probability, statistics, and Bayes' theorem. Science, the ultimate application of pragmatism, utilizes both empiricism and rationalism.

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In summary, atheists usually say that they reject ideas simply on the basis of whether or not they are rational.

I think you need to spend a bit more time practicing empiricism. This statement is plainly false, as any examination of the evidence will reveal.

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But by doing that, atheists are rejecting empiricism and intuitionism without even thinking i.e. atheism actually discourages thinking in this respect.

This is retarded.

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Atheists are therefore not the ‘deeper thinkers’ that they claim to be.

Well, I know *someone* who's not the deep thinker they think they are.

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Atheists therefore actually think less about the boundary between knowledge and belief than do epistemologists.

And what about those atheists who are also epistemologists?

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To help clarify my position, I am neither an atheist, nor a theist.

Then you don't exist: Am I agnostic or atheist?

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I am an epistemologist. I am therefore open to all three categories of knowledge – rationalism, empiricism, and intuitionism.

Here's a question for you, as an 'epistemologist': What is *not* knowledge, and how would you know?

Example: You overhear two intuitionists arguing. One claims, "I know A is true because of my intuition!" The other claims, "I know Not A is true because of *my* intuition!" If you are, as you claim, "open" to all three categories, including intuitionism, then how could you know which is true, A or Not A?

Follow up: Let's say that you *can* determine A or Not A. Perhaps you determine that A is true after all. Are you then willing to tell the other intuitionist, "Hey, you're wrong, A is true, not Not A." If you are willing to tell him this, then how can you maintain your claim that you are "open" to all categories of knowledge? You certainly wouldn't be open to the knowledge claim of Not A. On the other hand, if you are not willing to tell him that he's wrong, presumably because you think he has a valid claim to 'knowledge', then I return you to my original question: What is *not* knowledge, and how would you know? It seems to me that if you are "open" to conflicting claims of knowledge, then 'knowledge' becomes a meaningless word.

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Welcome to the

Welcome to the forum.

Epistemologist wrote:
Atheists, for some strange reason, usually take the side of rationalism, and therefore reject empiricism and intuitionism without even thinking about them.

The vast majority of atheists do NOT reject empiricism. I don't know the statistics, but I would bet that many, if not most, atheists do reject intuition as a reliable source of knowledge. Ditto, this is why you only cited an example of atheists rejecting intuition. I do not reject empiricism. Science is largely based on empiricism. I do, however, reject intuition.

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In that list, atheists reject mystical knowledge (intuitionism) simply because it is irrational. Atheists therefore reject a huge swath of mathematics, which is intuitionism. This article introduces intuitionism: http://www.philosophyprofessor.com/philosophies/intuitionism.php

I do not reject any mathematics. All of mathematics can be established using rationalism and empiricism. You definitely don't need intuition. The fact that some random person with crackpot ideas asserted it doesn't make it so.

In fact, if you had higher education in any relevant field, you would know that higher level mathematics and science are often counter-intuitive. To learn something like Quantum Mechanics or Functions of a Complex Variable, you have to throw intuition out the window.

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Of course intuitionism is irrational. That’s why it’s called ‘intuitionism’ and not ‘rationalism’. And of course empiricism is irrational, simply because empiricism is the opposite of rationalism.

You have a woefully lame understanding of these terms; you won't find your implied definitions any dictionary. Empiricism is not "irrational." What is rational is what is based on reason or agreeable to reason.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rational

Using empirical evidence to discuss claims and ideas is certainly agreeable to reason. "Mystical" "knowledge" (basically an oxymoron), on the other hand, by its very definition, is not agreeable to reason.  

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To help clarify my position, I am neither an atheist, nor a theist. I am an epistemologist. I am therefore open to all three categories of knowledge – rationalism, empiricism, and intuitionism.

Wow.

Please refer to Merriam-Webster again. 

A theist is a person that that believes in god(s). An atheist is someone that disbelieves in god(s).

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theist 

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism

An epistemologist is someone who studies the nature and grounds of knowledge, especially with regard to its limits and validity.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epistemologist

How is this a position with regard to God's existence?

If you had at least went with the "I'm only an agnostic" route, I would understand where you're coming from and hold a lot of respect for you. Now, I just think you're ignorant.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Epistemologist wrote:  To

Epistemologist wrote:

 

To help clarify my position, I am neither an atheist, nor a theist.

 

Impossible.

Well, maybe Bob can come on and tell me about a quantum foam manyworlds singularity bosun thingy that makes it possible Sticking out tongue

 

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Oh, natural:  By saying you

Oh, natural:  By saying you are epistemological pragmatist, do you just mean you use what works?

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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mellestad wrote:Oh, natural:

mellestad wrote:

Oh, natural:  By saying you are epistemological pragmatist, do you just mean you use what works?

Ah-ha. But that would make him an empiricist, as you need to have evidence to be able to decide what works!

Empiricist bastards. I feel in my soul that your false epistemology shall fall before the might of my rationalism! You shall be turned back at the gates. Your weakness will be revealed before all the world to see. Our rationalist warriors will feast on your livers this day!

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nigelTheBold wrote:mellestad

nigelTheBold wrote:

mellestad wrote:

Oh, natural:  By saying you are epistemological pragmatist, do you just mean you use what works?

Ah-ha. But that would make him an empiricist, as you need to have evidence to be able to decide what works!

Pragmatism relies on all experience, not only explicit sense experience. I trust my senses because trusting my senses works (usually). I know it works by intuition, which is not strictly 'sensory'. Empiricism is justified by pragmatism, not the other way around.

Empiricism is stymied by the brain-in-a-vat problem, whereas pragmatism isn't.

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nigelTheBold
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natural wrote:nigelTheBold

natural wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:

mellestad wrote:

Oh, natural:  By saying you are epistemological pragmatist, do you just mean you use what works?

Ah-ha. But that would make him an empiricist, as you need to have evidence to be able to decide what works!

Pragmatism relies on all experience, not only explicit sense experience. I trust my senses because trusting my senses works (usually). I know it works by intuition, which is not strictly 'sensory'. Empiricism is justified by pragmatism, not the other way around.

Empiricism is stymied by the brain-in-a-vat problem, whereas pragmatism isn't.

I know. I was actually jealous that you called yourself a "pragmatist." That's what I was trying to get at, by saying all three work, under certain circumstances. And science relies very much on both rationalism and empiricism, with the occasional intuitional shortcut. (Though the "Eureka!" experience is rare.)

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Epistemology vs. Atheism

 Thanks to all for your responses.

 

natural said: “Example: You overhear two intuitionists arguing. One claims, "I know A is true because of my intuition!" The other claims, "I know Not A is true because of *my* intuition!" If you are, as you claim, "open" to all three categories, including intuitionism, then how could you know which is true, A or Not A?”

 

The introduction to this forum says: “Irrational Precepts . . . Beliefs that are so irrational they need to be eradicated off the Earth.” Under the list of ‘Irrational Precepts’ linked to by this forum, it includes, “The claim that mystical experiences can give us knowledge.”

 

So the atheists running this website think that the claim that mystical experiences can give us knowledge is 1) a belief, 2) irrational and, 3) ‘needs to be eradicated off the earth’ because it’s irrational.

 

In response to these points:

 

1) Mystical experiences are not ‘belief’. They are knowledge.

 

2) Of course mystical experiences are irrational. They are intuition, which is a different category of knowledge to reason. So just because a type of knowledge is irrational does not mean it is not knowledge.

 

3) It is irrational for atheists to eradicate mysticism from the earth just because it is irrational.

 

Intuitive knowledge (particularly the apophatic mystical experience – via negativa) can neither be falsified nor confirmed using reason.

 

Intuitive knowledge is subjective. And knowledge derived by reason is objective.

 

Just because an experience is subjective (e.g. the soul of a mystic travelling from Hell to Heaven) does not mean that it is not knowledge.

 

By subjective, I mean an experience an individual has that no one else has. By objective, I mean an experience shared by more than one person.

 

Mysticism can be objective. For example, mystics are in agreement that sin takes the soul to hell, and virtue takes the soul to heaven. Mystics have defined hell as suffering that increases exponentially over infinite time, and heaven as the symmetrical opposite – happiness that increases exponentially over infinite time.

 

If the warning by these mystics is not headed, the consequence is infinitely serious. Putting it bluntly, if atheists succeed in eradicating mysticism off the earth, then there will be no guidance left to lead people away from Hell and into Heaven. So atheists, ultimately, could be leading people to hell – suffering that increases exponentially over infinite time. That makes atheism (the type promoted by this website) the most dangerous and harmful philosophy on the earth. Therefore, that type of atheism must be eradicated off the earth.


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Epistemologist wrote:1)

Epistemologist wrote:
1) Mystical experiences are not ‘belief’. They are knowledge.

There is knowledge of the experience. The conclusions derived from mystical experiences are usually unsupported beliefs. It depends on whether the conclusions are justified. 

A patient that goes into cardiac arrest has knowledge that he had some interesting experience with bright lights. The patient has faith that it was Jesus giving him a sign.

 

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2) Of course mystical experiences are irrational. They are intuition, which is a different category of knowledge to reason. So just because a type of knowledge is irrational does not mean it is not knowledge.

Yes, it does. Opinions aren't necessarily knowledge. Asserting knowledge doesn't make knowledge. To know something, you have to have actual reason supporting it. Knowledge that never refers to reason is not knowledge at all. 

Experiences aren't irrational, and they're not intuition; the terms don't even apply to the word experience. It's like a category error. They would apply to your belief that the experience occurred and the conclusions derived from that experience.

In fact, you have reason to believe that the experience occurred because you experienced it. You're certainly not using your intuition to conclude that the experience occurred; that's just silly.

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3) It is irrational for atheists to eradicate mysticism from the earth just because it is irrational.

Great. Do you have an argument?

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Intuitive knowledge (particularly the apophatic mystical experience – via negativa) can neither be falsified nor confirmed using reason.

Some claims based on intuition can be confirmed or falsified by reason and evidence. Some cannot.

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Just because an experience is subjective (e.g. the soul of a mystic travelling from Hell to Heaven) does not mean that it is not knowledge.

The experience would be knowledge for the person that has the experience, but not for anyone else.

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By objective, I mean an experience shared by more than one person.

That's not quite right.

Objective knowledge/evidence must, at least in principle, be universal. That means virtually anyone could have access to it if they really wanted to. If the souls of two mystics traveled together from hell to heaven (more than one!), it still wouldn't be objective knowledge. Nor the souls of three mystics. Nor 4. If there was a video of their souls traveling from hell to heaven, then it's potentially objective knowledge.

 

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Mysticism can be objective. For example, mystics are in agreement that sin takes the soul to hell, and virtue takes the soul to heaven. Mystics have defined hell as suffering that increases exponentially over infinite time, and heaven as the symmetrical opposite – happiness that increases exponentially over infinite time.

Wtf?

So, you really do think that objectivity is based on how many people are in agreement? This would mean that if two mystics claimed that sin takes the soul to heaven, then we would have objective knowledge that sin takes the soul to hell, and objective knowledge that sin take the soul to heaven? That's just stupid.

Please refer to the dictionary again.

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If the warning by these mystics is not headed, the consequence is infinitely serious. Putting it bluntly, if atheists succeed in eradicating mysticism off the earth, then there will be no guidance left to lead people away from Hell and into Heaven. So atheists, ultimately, could be leading people to hell – suffering that increases exponentially over infinite time. That makes atheism (the type promoted by this website) the most dangerous and harmful philosophy on the earth. Therefore, that type of atheism must be eradicated off the earth.

What's this? Another implied, ignorant recycling of Pascal's Wager?  

The Flying Spaghetti Monster says that if you do not believe in him, everyone will be sent to hell, where all the beer is stale and all the prostitutes have STD's. Therefore, people like you, unbelievers in his Noodliness, are the most dangerous people on the Earth. You should be eradicated.  

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Epistemologist wrote:If the

Epistemologist wrote:
If the warning by these mystics is not headed, the consequence is infinitely serious. Putting it bluntly, if atheists succeed in eradicating mysticism off the earth, then there will be no guidance left to lead people away from Hell and into Heaven.

Oh noes! Not that! No guidance in protecting people from figments of the imagination! Help! Help!


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Epistemologist

Epistemologist wrote:

 Thanks to all for your responses.

 

natural said: “Example: You overhear two intuitionists arguing. One claims, "I know A is true because of my intuition!" The other claims, "I know Not A is true because of *my* intuition!" If you are, as you claim, "open" to all three categories, including intuitionism, then how could you know which is true, A or Not A?”

 

The introduction to this forum says: “Irrational Precepts . . . Beliefs that are so irrational they need to be eradicated off the Earth.” Under the list of ‘Irrational Precepts’ linked to by this forum, it includes, “The claim that mystical experiences can give us knowledge.”

blah blah blah....

Why did you quote me if you don't actually answer my question?

I'll repeat: What is *not* knowledge, and how would you know?

Notice the emphasis on the word 'not'. Please answer this question. Because otherwise, I'll have to judge your position based on what you actually wrote in your reply -- and that's not looking very pretty.

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1) Mystical experiences are not ‘belief’. They are knowledge.

You're begging the question. First you must be able to distinguish between 'knowledge' and 'not knowledge'. So, I ask again, what is *not* knowledge?

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Intuitive knowledge (particularly the apophatic mystical experience – via negativa) can neither be falsified nor confirmed using reason.

This is a deepity. To the extent that it's true, it is trivial. To the extent that it is profound, it is false.

 

Unfalsifiable claims are inherently useless. They are precisely as useless as self-contradictory claims. So, to the extent that claims are unfalsifiable, they are trivially immune to reason, because they have no practical consequences.

However, knowledge implies access to truth. The only way to evaluate truth is by testing it. If you can't test it, you can't justifiably claim to know it is true. You could, after all, simply be self-deluded. So, to the extent that intuitive claims are unfalsifiable, they are *not* knowledge.

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Intuitive knowledge is subjective. And knowledge derived by reason is objective.

How do you know that?

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Just because an experience is subjective (e.g. the soul of a mystic travelling from Hell to Heaven) does not mean that it is not knowledge.

But again, this begs the question. How do you know what is knowledge and what is *not*?

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By subjective, I mean an experience an individual has that no one else has. By objective, I mean an experience shared by more than one person.

You're confusing objective with inter-subjective.

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Mysticism can be objective. For example, mystics are in agreement that sin takes the soul to hell, and virtue takes the soul to heaven. Mystics have defined hell as suffering that increases exponentially over infinite time, and heaven as the symmetrical opposite – happiness that increases exponentially over infinite time.

Well, see, *my* intuition tells me that sin takes me to heaven and virtue takes me to hell. How can you distinguish between my 'knowledge' and these other mystics' 'knowledge'?

By the way, I doubt you'd be able to get a consensus agreement by mystics about your definitions of soul, hell, heaven, sin, virtue, suffering, happiness, or infinite time. You're basically asserting your *own* intuition as truth, again, begging the question.

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If the warning by these mystics is not headed, the consequence is infinitely serious.

How do you know that? You're the 'Epistemologist', right? It should be easy for you to explain how you know things.

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Putting it bluntly, if atheists succeed in eradicating mysticism off the earth, then there will be no guidance left to lead people away from Hell and into Heaven.

I'd trust a neuroscientist over a mystic any day. See, the mystics can't explain how they know anything, and they all disagree with one another. And you, the so-called Epistemologist can't tell us how to distinguish between the knowledgeable mystics and the ignorant ones. Neuroscientists, on the other hand, have testable and falsifiable theories, evidence to explain how they know their theories are true, and are able to tell the difference between a true theory and a false one.

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So atheists, ultimately, could be leading people to hell – suffering that increases exponentially over infinite time.

Or, they could be leading people to heaven. I know a mystic down the road who claims (by his intuition) that the only path to heaven (exponential happiness) is through atheism. Who are you to deny his 'knowledge'?

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That makes atheism (the type promoted by this website) the most dangerous and harmful philosophy on the earth.

No, it makes it the most exalted source of good on the earth. According to my mystic. Who are you to disagree?

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Mysticism and intuition are

Mysticism and intuition are definitely not knowledge, or sources of knowledge, apart from the personal knowledge of what the experiences and intuitions feel like subjectively.

Empiricism is the only approach which can actually achieve some actual, if to some extent tentative, knowledge of reality beyond what it feels like to be you.

At best, mysticism and intuition are sources of speculative ideas, which require some kind of external testing against reality, usually employing empiricism and rationalism, which is the only way of gaining some sort of actual approximation to the truth.

Atheism is usually a consequence of a rational, empirical approach to knowledge and understanding, not a cause or prerequisite.

The 'soul', in the mystical and/or religious sense, has zero standing as knowledge - it is very much purely a belief, based on intuitions and introspection, which tell us nothing about external reality, although they may suggest possible ideas which can be followed up.

Mathematics is largely a deductive process, and therefore ultimately a tautology, only 'proving' the direct logical implications of the assumed axioms. The axioms are the only aspects of mathematics which are to any extent intuitive. I say largely deductive, because as we pursue mathematics into ever more complex directions, we are getting beyond what we can readily prove, it is becoming almost an empirical science, using computers to further our investigations, precisely because we have gone way beyond what our intuitions can handle.

In short, the OP displays so many fallacies, false assumptions, and outright errors, that I find it difficult to treat it as more than a joke.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Intuition

nigelTheBold wrote:

My wife relies on her intuition when dealing with people, and I have never met someone better at judging personal situations and arriving at a good (and often strangely logical) solution. In fact, when it comes to analyzing interpersonal situations, my wife is so far better than I (and pretty much everyone I've had the pleasure of meeting), it's scary.

That skill does not translate to discovering truths about reality outside of interpersonal interactions, though. And she would be the first to admit it.

I have to call intuitive knowledge when it comes to people. Things that are intuitive may not involve our conscious executive management functions but that does not mean they aren't rational at another level. I think it's possible to assess a person using what we might call instinct but what is, in fact, a sub conscious process of rational assessment. A person is shifty, odd, threatening, worried, responds weirdly to normal communication, says inappropriate things, seems loose or unstable on a general scale of our social mores. I was bullied as a kid at primary school and I have a thing for thugs. I don't believe it's woo. My sub conscious is picking up on cues. I avoided being mugged/robbed in Rome recently because I know how people look at you when they're about to roll you. There were 3 people involved. I picked the leader. Then the first guy and after that I looked for and found the second guy. But first I picked the fact the waitress could see what was happening and while concerned for me either could not or would not warn me. Though thinking about it again, perhaps she did warn me subconsciously. In any case it wasn't magic, it was just experience and being receptive to subtle cues. Your wife must be using such cues, surely. Women are generally way better at that stuff than men are.  

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Relativism vs. Atheism

Thanks to all for highlighting my fallacies and ignorance. Smiling

 

natural said: “I'll repeat: What is *not* knowledge, and how would you know?”

 

Through pleasure and pain. For example, if you spill boiling water on your hand, you know it’s real because you cannot doubt the pain. The more you can doubt something, the less likely it is to be knowledge.

 

Likewise, if the soul of a mystic descends into Hell, as a consequence of sin, the mystic perceives the pain of Hell. They therefore know that sin leads to Hell.

 

natural said: “ . . . that's not looking very pretty”

 

Orchids are pretty. Maybe I should have included a picture of one.

 

natural said: “I know a mystic down the road who claims (by his intuition) that the only path to heaven (exponential happiness) is through atheism. Who are you to deny his 'knowledge'?”

 

When one mystic contradicts another, it allows for relativism in mysticism. For example, apophatic mystics are atheists, and kataphatic mystics are theists.

 

This website maintains that mysticism should be eradicated from the earth because it is irrational. So the type of atheism promoted by this website is hostile to epistemological relativism – such relativism being that truth can be different for different people.

 

The rejection of mysticism is the rejection of relativism. But atheism, to be atheism, doesn’t need to reject relativism. If atheism did not reject relativism, I would become an atheist.

 

It is irrational for atheism to reject relativism. A rational atheist should not reject relativism, and therefore should not reject mysticism.

 


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The 'truth' is NOT different

The 'truth' is NOT different for different people - their internal experiences are different, that is a truth.

Those internal experiences are internal to them, and do not represent actual realities, such as their 'soul' actually descending to 'Hell' - that has no more external reality than a vivid dream, so of course there is no need to invoke 'relative' truths for different people, that is an abuse of the word 'truth'. 

You presupposing without justification that the experiences of mystics are more than just mental experiences, waking dreams.

We do not demand that mysticism be eradicated. 

We just would like people to be able to distinguish real truth from imaginative myth and story. We need our dreams, our stories, but ultimately it is folly to lose sight of the fact that they are dreams.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:

My wife relies on her intuition when dealing with people, and I have never met someone better at judging personal situations and arriving at a good (and often strangely logical) solution. In fact, when it comes to analyzing interpersonal situations, my wife is so far better than I (and pretty much everyone I've had the pleasure of meeting), it's scary.

That skill does not translate to discovering truths about reality outside of interpersonal interactions, though. And she would be the first to admit it.

I have to call intuitive knowledge when it comes to people. Things that are intuitive may not involve our conscious executive management functions but that does not mean they aren't rational at another level. I think it's possible to assess a person using what we might call instinct but what is, in fact, a sub conscious process of rational assessment. A person is shifty, odd, threatening, worried, responds weirdly to normal communication, says inappropriate things, seems loose or unstable on a general scale of our social mores. I was bullied as a kid at primary school and I have a thing for thugs. I don't believe it's woo. My sub conscious is picking up on cues. I avoided being mugged/robbed in Rome recently because I know how people look at you when they're about to roll you. There were 3 people involved. I picked the leader. Then the first guy and after that I looked for and found the second guy. But first I picked the fact the waitress could see what was happening and while concerned for me either could not or would not warn me. Though thinking about it again, perhaps she did warn me subconsciously. In any case it wasn't magic, it was just experience and being receptive to subtle cues. Your wife must be using such cues, surely. Women are generally way better at that stuff than men are.  

I agree with both of you when it comes to intuition.  Intuition really isn't a way to gain knowledge, it is a way to relate different things that someone knows from past gained knowledge.  Intuition is what we use when troubleshooting a problem or assessing a situation or a problem.  Intuition keeps be from going down rabbit holes when trying to troubleshoot a network.  Intuition may allow me to quickly assess a situation similar to what AE has experienced and assessed.  Intuition allows me to recognize if a person is someone I want to have a business/personal relationship.  As we gain more knowledge and experiences, we use intuition as a relational database.

For example, let's say that in 1975 something bad happens that involves x, y, and z.  Then in 1978 something bad happens that involves x, y, z, a, and b.  Then in 1983 something bad happens that involves y, z, and a.  The brain isn't trying to remember the *exact* experiences...it would take too long to process.  But if the brain sees x and a occurring, the brain just says "Watch out! Something bad about to happen!"  So you don't necessarily need to remember the events of 1975, 1978 and 1983.  You just see x and a and think "This can't be good".  That is the essence of intuition.  Nothing mystic, nothing involving heaven or hell.  Just a SQL event of the mind.

In the case of troubleshooting, you see that something is occurring.  You have seen this before.  You don't remember the exact times and places, but you remember that when this occurs, it is possible that it is a or b or c causing the issue.  So, you now go into a testing phase.  You gather evidence to see if any of these situations are occurring.  You are now using empiricism.  You find through evidence gathering that the most likely cause is a, so you go to remedy the problem.  Intuition is preventing you from simply going through a massive checklist for troubleshooting and narrowing the scope.  Nothing mystical is happening.  No sin is occurring. 

Intuition, in both cases, is being used rationally.

Dolt:"Evolution is just a theory."
Me:"Yes, so is light and gravity. Pardon me while I flash this strobe while dropping a bowling ball on your head. This shouldn't bother you; after all, these are just theories."


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kidvelvet wrote:Intuition,

kidvelvet wrote:


Intuition, in both cases, is being used rationally.

Absolutely. In most cases, "intuition" is really just our brain taking shortcuts with logic, based on past experience.

There are other "intuitions" that are false, though. Consider the "intuition" that the sun went about the earth. Intuition said it was true. Science showed it was false.

There are other intuitions. For instance, you "know" you have good vision (assuming you have good vision). But, there's a huge blind spot right in the middle of each eye. Your intuition is you have pure uninterrupted vision. In truth, you do not. Same with color vision. You actually only see color for about 20 degrees of your field of view.

There are other, more subtle intuitions we have, which are at the heart of the debate P and I are having.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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natural wrote:I'll repeat:

natural wrote:
I'll repeat: What is *not* knowledge, and how would you know?

Epistemologist wrote:
Through pleasure and pain. For example, if you spill boiling water on your hand, you know it’s real because you cannot doubt the pain. The more you can doubt something, the less likely it is to be knowledge.

Likewise, if the soul of a mystic descends into Hell, as a consequence of sin, the mystic perceives the pain of Hell. They therefore know that sin leads to Hell.

............You're getting kind of funny.

Okay, so "the more you can doubt something, the less likely it is to be knowledge." The more pleasure and pain something gives you, the less you can doubt it. So, it follows that something that doesn't give you pleasure or pain at all is definitely not knowledge, whereas something that puts you in ecstasy or agony is definitely knowledge.

So, mystics have knowledge that they were in hell and heaven because they felt agony in hell and ecstasy in heaven! Hey, I went on a trip to Pastafarian heaven, that makes Pastafarian heaven knowledge too! The law of gravity is definitely not knowledge, unless you've fallen off a ladder and broken your leg before (or experienced some excruciating injury due to gravity). On the other hand, maybe you went bungee jumping; that could make gravity knowledge too (as well as bungee jumping)? Uh, so the theory of evolution is not knowledge, unless you can make the argument that the genes you inherited from your parents have given you pleasure and/or pain, but I don't think that would make the actual theory knowledge. Coldstone Creamers ice cream is knowledge. Catholic preacher molesters have knowledge of raping little boys. 

Quote:
When one mystic contradicts another, it allows for relativism in mysticism. For example, apophatic mystics are atheists, and kataphatic mystics are theists.

This website maintains that mysticism should be eradicated from the earth because it is irrational. So the type of atheism promoted by this website is hostile to epistemological relativism – such relativism being that truth can be different for different people.

The rejection of mysticism is the rejection of relativism. But atheism, to be atheism, doesn’t need to reject relativism. If atheism did not reject relativism, I would become an atheist.

It is irrational for atheism to reject relativism. A rational atheist should not reject relativism, and therefore should not reject mysticism. 

Many atheists are moral relativists, not epistemological (total) relativists i.e. relativism with regard to truth/facts. It is not irrational for any atheist to reject total relativism. Total relativism is irrational. It violates the principle of contradiction. Of course, it's always possible that we're wrong about something, but that's irrelevant regardless; either the Earth orbits around the sun or it doesn't (ignoring special relativity for the moment). If one person believes that the sun orbits around the Earth and one person believes that the Earth orbits around the sun, it doesn't mean that both beliefs are "true" for them; that's retarded. It can only be true in the sense that that is what they believe.

Also, you wrote, "If atheism did not reject relativism, I would become an atheist." You're really confused, aren't you?

First of all, atheism doesn't reject relativism. Atheism doesn't necessarily reject anything. Go back and read the definition I posted. Being an atheist means that you don't believe in any god(s). Atheists may reject various forms of relativism, but, semantically, this has nothing to do with them being an atheist.

Second, you would choose to be atheist? Nobody chooses to become an atheist; it's not something you get to pick. You're an atheist if you don't believe in God, by definition. You're not an atheist if you believe in God. Wtf does this have to do with relativism? 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Just thought I'd point out

Just thought I'd point out that intuition is basically a subconscious application of empiricism.

 

Building one's intuition involves gaining experience which is used to better one's ability to make predictions.  The fact that these predictions aren't made consciously doesn't mean it's not based on experimentation.

 

The problem with intuition-based epistemologies is that they don't work in areas where you have no experience.  Basically, intuition can only be used after sufficient application of emperical methods, though the use of these emperical methods may not be consciously recognized.  After sufficient application of emperical methods intuitionism becomes subconscious empiricism.

 

Think of it this way.  You (probably) can't use your intuition to solve quantum mechanics problems.  However, a quantum physicist will, after sufficient experience, have worked with quantum mechanics enough to use his/her intuition to help solve those problems.  What he/she is really doing, though, is using their prior experience and subconsciously making predictions, which he/she later tests through conscious methods and then experiments.

 

Also, relative is not the same as subjective.

The theory of relativity is both relative and objective.  Saying something is relative doesn't mean that it's not objective.

Unfortunately, many people (even philosophers) use the word relative to mean the same thing as subjective, which makes it difficult for me to even explain my stance on the nature of truth, much less support it.  As a physicist, it's always bugged me.  I keep pointing out that the theory of relativity is objective but no one seems to notice.

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http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

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Eradicating Mysticism

 BobSpence1 said: “We do not demand that mysticism be eradicated.”

 

Yes you do. Smiling

 

The intro to this forum says: ‘Irrational Precepts . . . Beliefs that are so irrational they need to be eradicated off the Earth.’ The list of irrational precepts includes, ‘The claim that mystical experiences can give us knowledge.’ http://www.rationalresponders.com/hamurookis_irrational_precepts


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Intuition vs. Reason

butterbattle said: “You're getting kind of funny.”

 

That’s good. I don’t want to be too serious.

 

butterbattle said: “The more pleasure and pain something gives you, the less you can doubt it. So, it follows that something that doesn't give you pleasure or pain at all is definitely not knowledge, whereas something that puts you in ecstasy or agony is definitely knowledge.”

 

I refine that to the following. Something that does not cause you pleasure or pain may be knowledge. But you only know with absolute certainty that something is knowledge when it causes you pleasure or pain.

 

More specifically, the only things you know that exist, with absolute certainty, are pleasure and pain. Therefore the mystical experience of Heaven (exponentially increasing ecstasy) and Hell (exponentially increasing agony) are certainly knowledge.

 

Further, the knowledge of pleasure or pain doesn’t require reason to verify its existence. It is purely intuitive knowledge. It is non-rational.

 

butterbattle said: “Wtf does this have to do with relativism?”

 

I don’t know. I’m going to have a kebab with big fat pickled green chillies. Then I’ll have a cup of tea. You will notice I change the subject when I’m cornered by someone more intelligent than me. Smiling


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Trusting a neuroscientist or a mystic

 natural said: “I'd trust a neuroscientist over a mystic any day.”

 

Really? What if a neuroscientist told you that you should jump in front of a moving train, and a mystic told you that you shouldn’t?


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Epistemologist

Epistemologist wrote:

 natural said: “I'd trust a neuroscientist over a mystic any day.”

 

Really? What if a neuroscientist told you that you should jump in front of a moving train, and a mystic told you that you shouldn’t?

 

He means in regards to understanding how experience works.  A neuroscientist telling you to do something is outside of that context.


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Epistemologist

Epistemologist wrote:

 BobSpence1 said: “We do not demand that mysticism be eradicated.”

 

Yes you do. Smiling

 

The intro to this forum says: ‘Irrational Precepts . . . Beliefs that are so irrational they need to be eradicated off the Earth.’ The list of irrational precepts includes, ‘The claim that mystical experiences can give us knowledge.’ http://www.rationalresponders.com/hamurookis_irrational_precepts

Sloppy reasoning there (dare I say 'irrational'? )

We wish that irrational conclusions or beliefs about what mystical experiences actually signify, beyond being a particular state of mind, be eradicated, not that the practices that lead to such experiences be eradicated. Sam Harris is very keen for science to study the practices of mystics to see what may be of value there in inducing the more positive benefits to our state of mind, without being dependent on adopting specific irrational beliefs.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Epistemologist wrote:

Epistemologist wrote:

butterbattle said: “You're getting kind of funny.”

 

That’s good. I don’t want to be too serious.

 

butterbattle said: “The more pleasure and pain something gives you, the less you can doubt it. So, it follows that something that doesn't give you pleasure or pain at all is definitely not knowledge, whereas something that puts you in ecstasy or agony is definitely knowledge.”

 

I refine that to the following. Something that does not cause you pleasure or pain may be knowledge. But you only know with absolute certainty that something is knowledge when it causes you pleasure or pain.

 

More specifically, the only things you know that exist, with absolute certainty, are pleasure and pain. Therefore the mystical experience of Heaven (exponentially increasing ecstasy) and Hell (exponentially increasing agony) are certainly knowledge.

 

Further, the knowledge of pleasure or pain doesn’t require reason to verify its existence. It is purely intuitive knowledge. It is non-rational.

You don't need to restrict it to 'pleasure or pain'.

Knowledge of our what we feel at any instant is certain knowledge, yes, but is incomplete - there is much about the overall state of our own mind which is totally inaccessible to our conscious mind.

It is also rational - such sensations are defined by how we perceive them, as pleasureable or painful, so it is entirely rational to accept that definition. Yes, indeed, they are non-rational, in the sense that they are not contrary to rational reasoning (irrational), but are also not rational conclusions, they are direct experiences. We have no problem whatever with such experiences, which are an essential part of being alive, and do not involve rationality or reasoning aspects of our minds. It would indeed be 'irrational' to deny that.

It also is irrelevant to knowledge about external reality. And it is NOT really 'intuitive' knowledge. It is raw data. 

"That object appears red to me" is a statement of fact. The object may not actually have a pattern of light reflectance which corresponds to what 'normal' eyes and brains would identify as 'red', so it cannot be said to contain certain knowledge about the object. You may be color-blind or misunderstand what color the word 'red' is normally meant to apply to, and so on.

It really amounts to a version of "I think therefore I am", which is both true and trivial. The guy who originated that phrase proceeded to develop a philosophy which was largely nonsense, at least IMHO.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Mystical experiences

BobSpence1 said: “Sloppy reasoning there (dare I say 'irrational'? ) . . . We wish that irrational conclusions or beliefs about what mystical experiences actually signify, beyond being a particular state of mind, be eradicated, not that the practices that lead to such experiences be eradicated. Sam Harris is very keen for science to study the practices of mystics to see what may be of value there in inducing the more positive benefits to our state of mind, without being dependent on adopting specific irrational beliefs.”

 

The problem here is that the conclusion that mystical experiences are not knowledge is an irrational belief. You don’t know what they signify. The only person who knows whether or not a particular mystical experience is knowledge is the mystic having, or who has had, that experience.

 

The soul of a mystic may travel outside time and space, into Heaven, and there consort with angels or other spiritual beings. The mystic’s soul may then return to their body. The mystic actually knows that they had that experience. That is rational.

 


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Epistemologist

Epistemologist wrote:

BobSpence1 said: “Sloppy reasoning there (dare I say 'irrational'? ) . . . We wish that irrational conclusions or beliefs about what mystical experiences actually signify, beyond being a particular state of mind, be eradicated, not that the practices that lead to such experiences be eradicated. Sam Harris is very keen for science to study the practices of mystics to see what may be of value there in inducing the more positive benefits to our state of mind, without being dependent on adopting specific irrational beliefs.”

 

The problem here is that the conclusion that mystical experiences are not knowledge is an irrational belief. You don’t know what they signify. The only person who knows whether or not a particular mystical experience is knowledge is the mystic having, or who has had, that experience.

 

The soul of a mystic may travel outside time and space, into Heaven, and there consort with angels or other spiritual beings. The mystic’s soul may then return to their body. The mystic actually knows that they had that experience. That is rational.

 

No , it is a reasonable, rational conclusion. We know there is no evidence that they do signify an actual real process matching what the person imagines they represent.

Unless there is some independant, external, empirical corroboration, internal convictions of what something actually signifies are without epistemological significance, as other than internal states of mind.

We have no good evidence that what you describe in the last paragraph refers to something that actually happens. The mystic only has knowledge of having had an experience that felt like it was actually happening, but has no way to distinguish it from the equivalent of a vivid dream, in the absence of external empirical evidence.

An intense conviction that is was 'real' is not sufficient of itself to justify a knowledge claim - we have endless counter-examples where people have become totally convinced of the reality of some more mundane type of experience, which has been accessible to empirical disproof, so how can you justify affirming the 'truth' of an experience based purely on it being in some other realm which we cannot directly disprove? I myself have had a memory of some relatively ordinary experience which subsequent checking showed could only have been a dream. 

We know the brain can do this - we rehearse some imagined scenario during dream states, and if we wake or are disturbed within a critical period, the dream becomes embedded in our memories. This is a well-established process. Our internal intuitions are a very unreliable indication of truth, especially about more unusual 'events'.

When someone engages in more unusual mental disciplines to enhance the likelihood of such 'experiences', that rationally should reduce the credence we give to their reports.

If someone in ordinary life, who did not have strong beliefs in the soul, heaven, and hell reported such an experience, that would be stronger evidence for its reality, but still quite inadequate to take the specifics of the experience as more than just elaborations or confabulations of the brain attempting to fit a narrative to what is typically an inchoate set of memories of some unusual disturbance of their normal brain function.

Such experiences do regularly occur to individuals, but the specifics, such as heaven and hell, or imagined meetings with specific persons or gods, are automatically attached from their belief system. The 'soul' is the natural description of their personal perspective of not being aware of their physical body during such brain events, and has no significance as to the actual reality of a truly disembodied essence. Those concepts all ultimately derive from various cultures attempts to make sense of such raw experiences, and are almost certainly the inspiration for much of religion.

It is irrational to ignore this counter evidence.

EDIT: Experiences of this general nature can be invoked 'on cue' in individuals already primed by their beliefs, by stimulating specific parts of their brains, or administering certain 'psycho-active' substances.

If you study epistemology without also studying current scientific data and theories on the functioning of the brain, you are likely to come to some seriously incorrect conclusions, especially if your ideas about the mind are based largely on introspection and intuition.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Mystical knowledge

 BobSpence1 said: “If you study epistemology without also studying current scientific data and theories on the functioning of the brain, you are likely to come to some seriously incorrect conclusions.”

 

Thanks for your fast response. I’m not going to quote everything you said, but I’ll try to address your main points. Let me know I’ve missed anything.

 

A key problem here is that training in mysticism, and the study of the brain, are two different epistemologies. So the soul cannot be understood by studying the brain, and vice versa.

 

I will take Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism as an example of esoteric mysticism. In Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism, there are several initiatory degrees of soul cultivation.

 

The soul is something outside time and space. It is not subject to the laws of physics. But the brain is inside time and space, and subject to the laws of physics.

 

Each degree of soul cultivation in esoteric mysticism is achieved by transmuting the carnal passions (e.g. hatred and anger) into virtues (e.g. love and patience). This requires a huge amount of work, and in Freemasonry, the work of transmutation is symbolized by Mason’s tools. After several years or decades of training, this enables the mystic practitioners to liberate their souls from immanent reality (the physical universe), and ascend into transcendent reality (Heaven). In Heaven, the mystics can actually communicate with angels and other spiritual beings. Mystics report that it is another world, absolutely different to the physical universe that our bodies inhabit. It can only be accessed through mystical training. It could never be verified or demonstrated through natural science, because it is outside time and space. So it is completely beyond the boundaries of natural science.

 

Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, recognize Seven Heavens. The Mystic, Theresa of Avila, explains how these Seven Heavens are passed through in her book ‘The Interior Castle’. Theresa of Avila communicated with an angel in the seventh vault of Heaven.

 

Mystics have reported that when their souls are in Heaven, the experience of Heaven is actually more real than the physical universe i.e. it is actually the physical universe studied by natural science (including the brain), which is the dream, and the mystical experience is the reality.

 

BobSpence1 said: “imagined meetings with specific persons or gods, are automatically attached from their belief system”

 

You are assuming that mysticism is a belief system, and imagined. It’s not. Esoteric mysticism is actually a knowledge system. The reports by mystics of the Seven Heavens, and the different experiences in each Heavenly vault (e.g. the different spiritual beings they meet), are reports and observations of actual reality.


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Jesus fucking christ.

Jesus fucking christ. Repeating the same nonsense over and over does not make it true.


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Epistemologist

Epistemologist wrote:

 BobSpence1 said: “If you study epistemology without also studying current scientific data and theories on the functioning of the brain, you are likely to come to some seriously incorrect conclusions.”

 

Thanks for your fast response. I’m not going to quote everything you said, but I’ll try to address your main points. Let me know I’ve missed anything.

 

A key problem here is that training in mysticism, and the study of the brain, are two different epistemologies. So the soul cannot be understood by studying the brain, and vice versa.

 

I will take Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism as an example of esoteric mysticism. In Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism, there are several initiatory degrees of soul cultivation.

 

The soul is something outside time and space. It is not subject to the laws of physics. But the brain is inside time and space, and subject to the laws of physics.

 

Each degree of soul cultivation in esoteric mysticism is achieved by transmuting the carnal passions (e.g. hatred and anger) into virtues (e.g. love and patience). This requires a huge amount of work, and in Freemasonry, the work of transmutation is symbolized by Mason’s tools. After several years or decades of training, this enables the mystic practitioners to liberate their souls from immanent reality (the physical universe), and ascend into transcendent reality (Heaven). In Heaven, the mystics can actually communicate with angels and other spiritual beings. Mystics report that it is another world, absolutely different to the physical universe that our bodies inhabit. It can only be accessed through mystical training. It could never be verified or demonstrated through natural science, because it is outside time and space. So it is completely beyond the boundaries of natural science.

 

Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, recognize Seven Heavens. The Mystic, Theresa of Avila, explains how these Seven Heavens are passed through in her book ‘The Interior Castle’. Theresa of Avila communicated with an angel in the seventh vault of Heaven.

 

Mystics have reported that when their souls are in Heaven, the experience of Heaven is actually more real than the physical universe i.e. it is actually the physical universe studied by natural science (including the brain), which is the dream, and the mystical experience is the reality.

 

BobSpence1 said: “imagined meetings with specific persons or gods, are automatically attached from their belief system”

 

You are assuming that mysticism is a belief system, and imagined. It’s not. Esoteric mysticism is actually a knowledge system. The reports by mystics of the Seven Heavens, and the different experiences in each Heavenly vault (e.g. the different spiritual beings they meet), are reports and observations of actual reality.

Just a quick response here - I do not assume mysticism is a belief system, I was just saying that when someone has one of these experiences, the entities that may be 'perceived' within the experience will tend to be identified with figures from whatever belief system they may have. If they don't happen to hold a belief system which provides suitable archetypes, they will probably match them against the closest equivalents that they can quickly (and sub-consciously) retrieve from memory. It is well known that people having religiously inspired visions will 'see' a figure from their particular religion. I doubt you will hear many Hindu mystics reporting a vision of Jesus.

Actually the problem in this discussion is the slippery definition of 'knowledge'. The word presumes a 'true' belief, but that begs the question, since most of the time the contents of what is felt to be 'true' knowledge is not demonstrably provable with 100% confidence, and what may be generally considered deserving of treating as 'knowledge' will change over time, as understanding of various things about 'Life, the Universe, and Everything' progresses.

So if you mean by 'knowledge' those beliefs which are regarded by the individual as beyond question, then what you say could apply.

But that does not make those beliefs necessarily 'true', and we may well have good evidence, either not available or not accepted by the individual, that their beliefs are probably not true. Which could be treated as a separate topic.

They way you discuss this seems to conflate the idea of 'knowledge', with what is the best current assessment of  what is actually demonstrably true. Of course much current 'knowledge' is strongly contested.

Your assertion that these visions "are reports and observations of actual reality" is, to say the least, not necessarily so. It would need to be independently demonstrable to be justifiably so regarded.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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 Thanks for your thoughtful responses.

 

BobSpence1 said: “But that does not make those beliefs necessarily 'true', and we may well have good evidence, either not available or not accepted by the individual, that their beliefs are probably not true. Which could be treated as a separate topic.”

 

I would take it further than that. We could have excellent evidence that the journeys by the souls of mystics into other worlds, outside time and space, definitely do not occur. But the worlds to which the mystic’s soul travels are not governed by the laws of this world or universe, so the mystic’s journeys cannot be understood in terms of knowledge of this universe.

 

BobSpence1 said: “They way you discuss this seems to conflate the idea of 'knowledge', with what is the best current assessment of  what is actually demonstrably true. Of course much current 'knowledge' is strongly contested.”

 

It’s difficult to untangle that difference, but thanks for doing that. Knowledge is arguably context dependent. You are right that much current ‘knowledge’ is strongly contested. What constitutes the ‘best current assessment’ of what is demonstrably true is also context dependent.

 

BobSpence1 said: “Your assertion that these visions "are reports and observations of actual reality" is, to say the least, not necessarily so. It would need to be independently demonstrable to be justifiably so regarded.”

 

In addition to visions, mystical experiences have been and are journeys of the soul into other worlds beyond the physical universe. These experiences are indeed independently demonstrable, though not with natural science or mathematics. If you undergo mystical training with Sufis, Kabbalists, Rosicrucians, Freemasons, or other esoteric mystics, they will show you how to undertake these journeys of the soul into other worlds, or Heavens.

 

There is only one way to know whether the claims by mystics that their souls travel outside time and space into other worlds is true. That is to undertake mystical training one’s self to replicate the journey.


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Epistemologist wrote:In

Epistemologist wrote:
In addition to visions, mystical experiences have been and are journeys of the soul into other worlds beyond the physical universe. These experiences are indeed independently demonstrable, though not with natural science or mathematics. If you undergo mystical training with Sufis, Kabbalists, Rosicrucians, Freemasons, or other esoteric mystics, they will show you how to undertake these journeys of the soul into other worlds, or Heavens.

There is only one way to know whether the claims by mystics that their souls travel outside time and space into other worlds is true. That is to undertake mystical training one’s self to replicate the journey.

Even if you have many individuals engaging in such "travels," there is simply no way to determine if they are simply hallucinations or actual journeys taken by the "soul."

You would need some reliable method of analyzing or comparing the experiences of these mystics. The corroboration of concepts like heaven and hell are too vague and could simply be a reflection of their religious beliefs. If they are intentionally traveling to real, supernatural locations, then surely, after a trip, it should be possible for them to provide detailed descriptions of what they see. If multiple mystics could essentially match their descriptions of a supernatural location without consulting each other, then that could be interesting evidence. 

Also, that anyone could take "mystical training" does not suffice unless it could be impatial and objective. What I mean is that, to be a sound method of acquiring knowledge, mystical training cannot require some form of question begging or making a "leap of faith." Otherwise, it is just intellectually dishonest. 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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 Thanks for your response.

 

butterbattle said: “Even if you have many individuals engaging in such "travels," there is simply no way to determine if they are simply hallucinations or actual journeys taken by the "soul."”

 

Exactly. So it is irrational to conclude that mystical journeys outside time and space into other worlds definitely do not occur.

 

butterbattle said: “If they are intentionally travelling to real, supernatural locations, then surely, after a trip, it should be possible for them to provide detailed descriptions of what they see.”

 

The problem is that mystics say the other worlds, outside time and space, through which their souls journey, are ineffable. They cannot be described in terms of this universe. The apophatics maintain that you can only say what the mystical journey is not. You cannot say what it is.

 

butterbattle said: “Also, that anyone could take "mystical training" does not suffice unless it could be impatial and objective. What I mean is that, to be a sound method of acquiring knowledge, mystical training cannot require some form of question begging or making a "leap of faith." Otherwise, it is just intellectually dishonest.”

 

A key difference between mysticism and religion, particularly apophatic mysticism, is that mysticism doesn’t require faith. The training is simply an asceticism, through which bodily desires are tamed.


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Epistemologist

Epistemologist wrote:

BobSpence1 said: “Your assertion that these visions "are reports and observations of actual reality" is, to say the least, not necessarily so. It would need to be independently demonstrable to be justifiably so regarded.”

In addition to visions, mystical experiences have been and are journeys of the soul into other worlds beyond the physical universe. These experiences are indeed independently demonstrable, though not with natural science or mathematics. If you undergo mystical training with Sufis, Kabbalists, Rosicrucians, Freemasons, or other esoteric mystics, they will show you how to undertake these journeys of the soul into other worlds, or Heavens.

There is only one way to know whether the claims by mystics that their souls travel outside time and space into other worlds is true. That is to undertake mystical training one’s self to replicate the journey.

But that can only verify that they really do have experiences that seem to be of such a nature, it cannot verify that these other worlds, heavens, etc, actually exist in any real sense.

If it requires training, that reduces the likelihood that they are real, since the training itself will most likely prime them to have such experiences, and tend to make them report similar experiences which will reinforce the belief that they are real. A better test would be if people completely untrained, proven to be unaware of what to expect, independently reported very similar details, which went beyond the general aspects of such experiences, which will tend to be in common because they originate in similar brain mechanisms.

What aspects of these experiences convinces you that they really are visiting some other reality, and not just sharing a common fantasy world?

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Epistemologist said: “There is only one way to know whether the claims by mystics that their souls travel outside time and space into other worlds is true. That is to undertake mystical training one’s self to replicate the journey.”

 

BobSpence1 replied: “But that can only verify that they really do have experiences that seem to be of such a nature, it cannot verify that these other worlds, heavens, etc, actually exist in any real sense.”

 

It depends what you accept as evidence. You could undergo mystical training for several decades. Then your soul could travel outside time and space into other worlds. If you actually did that, you would know that the mystical journey is real.

 

You can argue that it could be imagination or hallucination. But mystics have said that the worlds outside time and space, to which their souls journey, are more vivid and more real than the physical universe i.e. they have maintained that it is actually the physical universe which is the hallucination, and not vice versa.

 

BobSpence1 said: “If it requires training, that reduces the likelihood that they are real, since the training itself will most likely prime them to have such experiences, and tend to make them report similar experiences which will reinforce the belief that they are real. A better test would be if people completely untrained, proven to be unaware of what to expect, independently reported very similar details, which went beyond the general aspects of such experiences, which will tend to be in common because they originate in similar brain mechanisms.”

 

Mystical training is asceticism. The test you recommend would be that someone discover asceticism by accident, or through their own independent research e.g. isolate a person from all writings on mysticism for the whole of their lives. Then see if they discover asceticism and the resulting experience of the soul travelling outside time and space into other worlds. It would be an expensive experiment.

 

If this approach is required to verify the truth of mystical journeys, then the same should be required of scientific discoveries e.g. would Einstein have ‘discovered’ the theories of special and general relativity if he had had no scientific and mathematical training?

 

So if you argue that ascetical training reduces the likelihood that mystical journeys are real, then scientific training reduces the likelihood that resulting scientific discoveries represent reality.

 

BobSpence1 said: “What aspects of these experiences convinces you that they really are visiting some other reality, and not just sharing a common fantasy world?”

 

Ineffability.

 


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Epistemologist wrote:

Epistemologist wrote:

Ineffability.

 

If you can't communicate something, how you claim to understand it fully?


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Epistemologist wrote:

Epistemologist said: “There is only one way to know whether the claims by mystics that their souls travel outside time and space into other worlds is true. That is to undertake mystical training one’s self to replicate the journey.”

BobSpence1 replied: “But that can only verify that they really do have experiences that seem to be of such a nature, it cannot verify that these other worlds, heavens, etc, actually exist in any real sense.”

It depends what you accept as evidence. You could undergo mystical training for several decades. Then your soul could travel outside time and space into other worlds. If you actually did that, you would know that the mystical journey is real.

You can argue that it could be imagination or hallucination. But mystics have said that the worlds outside time and space, to which their souls journey, are more vivid and more real than the physical universe i.e. they have maintained that it is actually the physical universe which is the hallucination, and not vice versa.

BobSpence1 said: “If it requires training, that reduces the likelihood that they are real, since the training itself will most likely prime them to have such experiences, and tend to make them report similar experiences which will reinforce the belief that they are real. A better test would be if people completely untrained, proven to be unaware of what to expect, independently reported very similar details, which went beyond the general aspects of such experiences, which will tend to be in common because they originate in similar brain mechanisms.”

Mystical training is asceticism. The test you recommend would be that someone discover asceticism by accident, or through their own independent research e.g. isolate a person from all writings on mysticism for the whole of their lives. Then see if they discover asceticism and the resulting experience of the soul travelling outside time and space into other worlds. It would be an expensive experiment.

If this approach is required to verify the truth of mystical journeys, then the same should be required of scientific discoveries e.g. would Einstein have ‘discovered’ the theories of special and general relativity if he had had no scientific and mathematical training?

So if you argue that ascetical training reduces the likelihood that mystical journeys are real, then scientific training reduces the likelihood that resulting scientific discoveries represent reality.

BobSpence1 said: “What aspects of these experiences convinces you that they really are visiting some other reality, and not just sharing a common fantasy world?”

Ineffability.

To be fair, I will acknowledge the difficulty that without the training which I presume is intended to teach them how to attain that state, it would be difficult to find someone able to do it by themselves, although it must be possible, since otherwise there never would have been a first mystic.

If it were possible to train them without describing too much of the specifics of what they may experience, it would be interesting if they reported details consistent with other independently trained mystics, but only if the details were not closely connected with the nature of the experience. It would be like if there were various possible destinations, with different incidental characteristics, so that their reports could be compared. 

It would as if we had several people claiming to have visited some distant actual planet not yet explored physically by space-craft, we could compare their accounts for consistency, but only if we were sure they hadn't had a chance to compare notes, or access to some common third party account.

For example, there was a guy named George Adamski, back in the 1950's, who claimed to have been befriended by aliens in UFOs, from the planet Venus, and been taken to visit that planet.  He had a wide following in the US

Now that we have far more detailed direct knowledge of conditions on the surface of Venus than was available back then, we can be pretty sure he was either a conscious hoaxer or deluded.

Your last comment would only apply if scientific theories were based purely on the thought processes and mental experiences of scientists. That would apply to philosophers, rather than scientists.

The important feature of Science is the scientific method, which is based on empirical, non-subjective results, including independent replication. 

Interestingly, if some new results were only reported by scientists with some particular training, or only from one University, or with some common cultural background,  and could not be replicated by equally competent and reputable scientists with a different background, that would indeed reduce their credibility. It should not lead to automatic rejection, rather careful investigation to see why that might be happening, because they may be performing the experiment in some particular way, or even just employing some slightly different equipment, which happens to be the critical difference.

As to your last comment, that does not resolve the issue, because that is still just a subjective feeling or reaction to an experience, and has zero true epistemological significance, whatever you may think. It could equally well describe an LSD or other drug induced experience.

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Mystical Journeys

 Epistemologist said: “Ineffability.”

 

v4ultingbassist responded: “If you can't communicate something, how you claim to understand it fully?”

 

The apophatic mystic response to that question is that the genuine mystical experience cannot be communicated or understood e.g. John of the Cross described his soul journeys outside time and space as ‘unknowing’.


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 Thanks again for your thoughtful responses.

 

BobSpence1 said: “For example, there was a guy named George Adamski, back in the 1950's, who claimed to have been befriended by aliens in UFOs, from the planet Venus, and been taken to visit that planet.  He had a wide following in the US . . . Now that we have far more detailed direct knowledge of conditions on the surface of Venus than was available back then, we can be pretty sure he was either a conscious hoaxer or deluded. . . . As to your last comment, that does not resolve the issue, because that is still just a subjective feeling or reaction to an experience, and has zero true epistemological significance, whatever you may think. It could equally well describe an LSD or other drug induced experience.”

 

I am going to narrow down my response a bit.

 

The mystical journey of the soul outside time and space to other worlds, to an external observer (e.g. a neuroscientist), may have identical characteristics to a delusion e.g. an LSD experience.

 

If that is the case, which it could be, then the only person who knows whether a mystical experience is genuine is the person who has the experience.

 

A parallel problem is consciousness. A person may know that they possess consciousness, but they cannot demonstrate to anyone else that they possess it. It is an experience so personal that it can only be known by the self. That doesn’t mean it is not real. And it doesn’t mean that it is irrational to believe that one possesses consciousness. Likewise, if one has a genuine mystical experience that cannot be demonstrated to anyone else, it is not irrational to believe that one has had that experience.


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Epistemologist wrote: The

Epistemologist wrote:

 The apophatic mystic response to that question is that the genuine mystical experience cannot be communicated or understood e.g. John of the Cross described his soul journeys outside time and space as ‘unknowing’.

 

Isn't 'unknowing' in direct contradiction with knowledge?  This is why I completely write this off as nonsense.  It is entirely illogical.


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Epistemologist wrote: “The apophatic mystic response to that question is that the genuine mystical experience cannot be communicated or understood e.g. John of the Cross described his soul journeys outside time and space as ‘unknowing’.”

 

v4ultingbassist replied: “Isn't 'unknowing' in direct contradiction with knowledge?  This is why I completely write this off as nonsense.  It is entirely illogical.”

 

Yes it can be viewed as nonsensical and illogical. For example, in Zen Buddhism, apophatic mystics have expressed ultimate reality (experienced by mystics), through Koans. A Koan is a nonsensical statement, the meaning of which defies logic, and can only be understood intuitively. Its purpose is to express a world so different to the physical universe we inhabit that it cannot be conceived or communicated in terms of this universe. A Koan is rational in the sense that the world it expresses can only be known intuitively, or experientially, and not rationally. And just because a Koan is irrational doesn’t mean that it is not communicating a truth.

 

You can read some Koans here: http://www.ibiblio.org/zen/cgi-bin/koan-index.pl

 


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Epistemologist wrote:

 Thanks again for your thoughtful responses.

 

BobSpence1 said: “For example, there was a guy named George Adamski, back in the 1950's, who claimed to have been befriended by aliens in UFOs, from the planet Venus, and been taken to visit that planet.  He had a wide following in the US . . . Now that we have far more detailed direct knowledge of conditions on the surface of Venus than was available back then, we can be pretty sure he was either a conscious hoaxer or deluded. . . . As to your last comment, that does not resolve the issue, because that is still just a subjective feeling or reaction to an experience, and has zero true epistemological significance, whatever you may think. It could equally well describe an LSD or other drug induced experience.”

 

I am going to narrow down my response a bit.

 

The mystical journey of the soul outside time and space to other worlds, to an external observer (e.g. a neuroscientist), may have identical characteristics to a delusion e.g. an LSD experience.

 

If that is the case, which it could be, then the only person who knows whether a mystical experience is genuine is the person who has the experience.

 

A parallel problem is consciousness. A person may know that they possess consciousness, but they cannot demonstrate to anyone else that they possess it. It is an experience so personal that it can only be known by the self. That doesn’t mean it is not real. And it doesn’t mean that it is irrational to believe that one possesses consciousness. Likewise, if one has a genuine mystical experience that cannot be demonstrated to anyone else, it is not irrational to believe that one has had that experience.

He would certainly be justified in claiming that he had such a subjective experienced, but NOT in 'knowing' with any certainty that it was the result of an actual experience with independent entities and realities, ie outside the domain of his own internal mental picture of external reality, and not some kind of waking dream or simple delusion or odd brain state. If it was an experience which matched closely ordinary life which can, at least in principle, be confirmed by multiple observers and physical evidence, it would be more acceptable, but still not distinguishable from a waking or remembered dream, as I can personally attest.

The subject of such an experience  is definitely not in a position to distinguish whether his mental experience really does refer to an actual non-delusional experience. In many ways, he is in a weaker position to that of a well-informed and equipped scientist, whether psychologist, neuroscientist, or other relevant discipline. There is much that happens in our own mind, whether directly measurable by brain-scanners, or indirectly by skilled questioning and behavioural observation, that is NOT accessible to our conscious observation. The process of 'confabulation', where our mind sub-consciously puts together a narrative to render some completely unfamiliar perceptions and sensations somewhat coherent is very well known. We already observe it doing the same thing with ordinary perceptions, bridging gaps in the raw sensation, so that we are not normally aware of our eye's blind-spot, or combining sufficiently rapid sequences of still pictures into the perception of motion, or 'translating' a sequence of momentary contacts on our skin distributed along a line into a sensation of a smooth moving touch.

In short, claiming valid, 'certified' knowledge based on pure experience, not independently, externally accessible is totally unwarranted.

'Consciousness' is not really a parallel problem, since what it refers to is experienced by everyone in a normal state of mental 'health'. There are people with brain pathologies who display symptoms which suggest that their personal awareness seems to lack something compared to 'normal' people. So we can have indirect indications of the state of consciousness of someone other than ourselves.

There is no argument that 'consciousness' does refer to some actual phenomena or process, the debate is about the 'nature' of consciousness, what if anything, physical or otherwise, generates it, etc. In that sense it is in fact similar to the question of the 'reality' of mystical experience. We don't deny the 'reality' of mystical experience as a mental experience, just that your interpretation of what it signifies is the only valid one, or even the most plausible.

'Consciousness' is also not a reference to the reality of some other-wordly analogue of our 'normal' external physical reality.

if your account is truly representative of how 'epistemology' approaches these topics, what modest respect I had for it as legitimate discipline is fading rapidly.

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Quote:just because a Koan is

Quote:

just because a Koan is irrational doesn’t mean that it is not communicating a truth.

 

For the concept of truth to have meaning, standards need to be placed on what is and isn't true.  Allowing nonsense and violations of logic to count as truth renders the word meaningless in the sense that ANYTHING can then be true.  This is why others questioned what would constitute non-truth.  If the violation of logic is allowed, then there is no distinction between truth and non-truth, so the concept is meaningless.


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Epistemologist wrote:

Epistemologist wrote:

Epistemologist wrote: “The apophatic mystic response to that question is that the genuine mystical experience cannot be communicated or understood e.g. John of the Cross described his soul journeys outside time and space as ‘unknowing’.”

 

v4ultingbassist replied: “Isn't 'unknowing' in direct contradiction with knowledge?  This is why I completely write this off as nonsense.  It is entirely illogical.”

 

Yes it can be viewed as nonsensical and illogical. For example, in Zen Buddhism, apophatic mystics have expressed ultimate reality (experienced by mystics), through Koans. A Koan is a nonsensical statement, the meaning of which defies logic, and can only be understood intuitively. Its purpose is to express a world so different to the physical universe we inhabit that it cannot be conceived or communicated in terms of this universe. A Koan is rational in the sense that the world it expresses can only be known intuitively, or experientially, and not rationally. And just because a Koan is irrational doesn’t mean that it is not communicating a truth.

 

You can read some Koans here: http://www.ibiblio.org/zen/cgi-bin/koan-index.pl

 

But it is not necessarily communicating a 'truth', and without comparing its assertions with our own experience and perceptions of reality, we have no way of judging it.

If, when we match some more or less cryptic statement against our experience, it triggers some insight that we had previously missed, then that is when we can acknowledge they can have value, and some measure of 'truth'. Until that happens, there is no way to distinguish a 'good' koan from a simply empty or actually erroneous one.

It is rational to accept an 'intuition' as possibly containing some relevant truth, since intuition encapsulates repeated past experience, plus some basic inherited mechanisms for assisting our decisions which worked adequately in our evolutionary past. But it would be irrational to accept them uncritically, especially in novel situations.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Epistemologist wrote:
Exactly. So it is irrational to conclude that mystical journeys outside time and space into other worlds definitely do not occur.

It is usually irrational, in general, to make any claim of absolute certainty. The rational position would be that these journeys probably do not occur 1) Because there is no good evidence and 2) Because it would contradict our knowledge of the brain. So, it would be irrational to hold that such trips do occur. 

natural wrote: "Unfalsifiable claims are inherently useless. They are precisely as useless as self-contradictory claims. So, to the extent that claims are unfalsifiable, they are trivially immune to reason, because they have no practical consequences.

However, knowledge implies access to truth. The only way to evaluate truth is by testing it. If you can't test it, you can't justifiably claim to know it is true. You could, after all, simply be self-deluded. So, to the extent that intuitive claims are unfalsifiable, they are *not* knowledge."

Quote:
The problem is that mystics say the other worlds, outside time and space, through which their souls journey, are ineffable. They cannot be described in terms of this universe. The apophatics maintain that you can only say what the mystical journey is not. You cannot say what it is.

Well then, they can corroborate each others' claims about what the mystical journey is not. If they can't even do that, then they have a claim that cannot be evaluated.

Also, I think you're being inconsistent. You've already written that the souls of mystics traveled from hell to heaven. They also know that atheism somehow leads people to hell. By making these statements, you're already describing what the journey was. 

Quote:
A key difference between mysticism and religion, particularly apophatic mysticism, is that mysticism doesn’t require faith. The training is simply an asceticism, through which bodily desires are tamed.

If this is the case, then there's no reason why I should have to pay a 'professional' mystic to train me. Someone could write a 'Mystical Journeys for Dummies,' that would allow pretty much any intelligent reader to go on a trip.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Mystical Journeys

 v4ultingbassist said: “For the concept of truth to have meaning, standards need to be placed on what is and isn't true.  Allowing nonsense and violations of logic to count as truth renders the word meaningless in the sense that ANYTHING can then be true.  This is why others questioned what would constitute non-truth.  If the violation of logic is allowed, then there is no distinction between truth and non-truth, so the concept is meaningless.”

 

Yes we do need standards to determine what is and what is not true, to help us get by in everyday life. Yes, without logical standards, anything could count as truth. However, that does not mean that there is nothing real or true outside the boundaries of logic. The idea that logic is the only route to truth is actually a faith. On the other hand, the apophatic mystical experience is direct perception, by the soul, of ultimate reality.


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So to get Koans, you have to

So to get Koans, you have to train your mind to have 'ah-hah!' moments for anything, even random phrases with no meaning?

That doesn't sound like truth to me, it sounds like warping your mind so your definition of truth is meaningless.

 

It might make you happy, but it isn't ever going to teach you anything new.

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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 BobSpence1 said: “But it (a Koan) is not necessarily communicating a 'truth', and without comparing its assertions with our own experience and perceptions of reality, we have no way of judging it.”

 

A Koan can be understood, but not rationally. It is understood when the soul attains mystical union with ultimate reality (the journey of the soul outside the boundaries of time and space). It is by that standard that a Koan is judged to be expressing truth. A Koan cannot be understood if one has not had such a mystical experience.


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Epistemologist wrote: “Exactly. So it is irrational to conclude that mystical journeys outside time and space into other worlds definitely do not occur.”

 

butterbattle replied: “It is usually irrational, in general, to make any claim of absolute certainty. The rational position would be that these journeys probably do not occur 1) Because there is no good evidence and 2) Because it would contradict our knowledge of the brain. So, it would be irrational to hold that such trips do occur.”

 

After mystical training, your soul could travel outside time and space into other worlds, which are non-physical. Because those worlds are infinitely different to the physical universe we inhabit, you would not be able to present any physical or rational evidence that you undertook the journey. In fact, all the physical and rational evidence would suggest that you did not undertake that journey, even if you did indeed undertake it.

 

butterbattle said: “However, knowledge implies access to truth. The only way to evaluate truth is by testing it. If you can't test it, you can't justifiably claim to know it is true. You could, after all, simply be self-deluded. So, to the extent that intuitive claims are unfalsifiable, they are *not* knowledge."

 

It can be tested. However, the only way to test it is to undertake ascetic mystical training, which then enables the soul to undertake mystical journeys outside time and space.

 

Epistemologist said: “The problem is that mystics say the other worlds, outside time and space, through which their souls journey, are ineffable. They cannot be described in terms of this universe. The apophatics maintain that you can only say what the mystical journey is not. You cannot say what it is.”

 

butterbattle replied: “Well then, they can corroborate each others' claims about what the mystical journey is not. If they can't even do that, then they have a claim that cannot be evaluated.”

 

Mystics, particularly apophatic, don’t use reason to evaluate the experiences of other mystics. People possess a spiritual sensory aura. When one attains mystical enlightenment, or arcane initiation (union of the soul with ultimate reality), one learns to feel other people’s feelings through the aura. A mystic can just feel if another person is enlightened or not (whether the soul of another person has journeyed outside time and space into the higher worlds). The feelings can only be known through feeling, so they are ineffable.

 

butterbattle said: “Also, I think you're being inconsistent. You've already written that the souls of mystics traveled from hell to heaven. They also know that atheism somehow leads people to hell. By making these statements, you're already describing what the journey was.”

 

‘Hell’ and ‘heaven’ are labels. Ultimately these experiences are ineffable, but they can be known through direct perception of the soul.

 

As far as I’m aware, atheism doesn’t have anything to do with the mystical journey. Apophatic mystics are atheists. The mystical journey is simply achieved by taming the desires of the body – asceticism.

 

Epistemologist wrote: “A key difference between mysticism and religion, particularly apophatic mysticism, is that mysticism doesn’t require faith. The training is simply an asceticism, through which bodily desires are tamed.”

 

butterbattle replied: “If this is the case, then there's no reason why I should have to pay a 'professional' mystic to train me. Someone could write a 'Mystical Journeys for Dummies,' that would allow pretty much any intelligent reader to go on a trip.”

 

That might be possible. It would be like the difference between studying a degree in a traditional university or by correspondence.