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Philosophy of Mysticism: Raids on the Ineffable

Philosophy of Mysticism: Raids on the Ineffable

by Richard H. Jones

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Overview

A comprehensive exploration of the philosophical issues raised by mysticism.

This work is a comprehensive study of the philosophical issues raised by mysticism. Mystics claim to experience reality in a way not available in normal life, a claim which makes this phenomenon interesting from a philosophical perspective. Richard H. Jones’s inquiry focuses on the skeleton of beliefs and values of mysticism: knowledge claims made about the nature of reality and of human beings; value claims about what is significant and what is ethical; and mystical goals and ways of life. Jones engages language, epistemology, metaphysics, science, and the philosophy of mind. Methodological issues in the study of mysticism are also addressed. Examples of mystical experience are drawn chiefly from Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, but also from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Daoism.

Richard H. Jones is the author of several books, including Mysticism Examined: Philosophical Inquiries into Mysticism, also published by SUNY Press.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781438461205
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Publication date: 03/23/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 438
File size: 749 KB

About the Author

Richard H. Jones is the author of several books, including Mysticism Examined: Philosophical Inquiries into Mysticism, also published by SUNY Press.

Table of Contents

Preface
Postmodernist Concerns
Methodological Issues
The Analytical Philosophical Approach

1. Mysticism and Mystical Experiences
Mystical Experiences
Mystical Paths
Extrovertive Mystical Experiences
Mindfulness
Introvertive Mystical Experiences
Depth-Mystical Experiences
Mystical Enlightenment
A Typology of Mystical Experiences
Weighting Mystical Experiences

2. Mystical Knowledge and Religious Ways of Life
Experience and Knowledge
Are There Genuine Mystical Experiences?
Attribution Theory
The Depth-Mystical Experience and Its Conceptualizations
Mystical Experiences and Mystical Ways of Life
Constructivism
Nonconstructivism
Constructivism and the Depth-Mystical Experience
Can the Constructivism Dispute be Resolved?
The Possibility of Mystical Insight

3. Are Mystical Experiences Cognitive?
Can Nonmystics Judge the Veridicality of Mystical Experiences?
What Can Mystics Claim to Know?
Mysticism and Empiricism
The Principle of Credulity
The Analogy to Sense-Perception
Problems of Justifying Specific Doctrinal Claims
The Limitation of Any Mystical Claim to Knowledge
Can Mystical Knowledge-Claims Be Compared?
Do Mystical Knowledge-Claims Genuinely Conflict?
Can One Mystical System Be Established as Best?
Is It Rational to Accept Mystical Knowledge-Claims?
“Properly Basic Beliefs”
Ultimate Decisions

4. The Scientific Study of Mystics and Meditators
Scientific Study Versus Mystical Practices
Are New Theories of the Mind Needed?
Can Mystical Experiences Be Studied Scientifically?
Scientific Explanations of Mystical Experiences
Sociocultural Explanations of Mystical Experiences
Explaining Away Mystical Experiences
Problems with Sociocultural Explanations
Problems with Physiological Explanations
Do Natural Triggers Produce Mystical Experiences?
Natural Phenomena and Mystical Insights
The Compatibility Problem
Applying Occam’s Razor
Our Epistemic Situation
Is Naturalism or a Transcendent Alternative More Plausible?
The Neutrality of Science

5. Mysticism and Metaphysics
Mystical Metaphysics
The Status of the World
The Nature of Transcendent Realities
Consciousness
The Self
The Question of Mystical Union
Mysticism and the Closure of Mystery

6. Mysticism and Language
Ineffability
The Mirror Theory of Language
And Yet Mystics Continue to Talk
An Analogy
Silence
Positive Characterizations of Transcendent Realities
Mystical Utterances and Knowledge
Negation
Defending Mystical Discourse

7. Mysticism and Rationality
Rationality and Styles of Reasoning
Paradox
Resolving Paradoxes
Understanding the Paradoxical
Nagarjuna’s Reasoning
Mysticism and the Question of Universal Reason

8. Mysticism and Science
Scientific and Mystical Approaches to Reality
An Analogy
Beingness and Science
Mystical Experience Versus Scientific Measurement and Theorizing
Indirect Avenues of Aid
Science, Mysticism, and the Natural World
The Difference in Content
Science and Mystical Metaphysics
Complementarity
Reconciling Mysticism and Science

9. Mysticism and Morality
The Basic Question of Compatibility
Are Mystics Necessarily Moral?
Mystical Selflessness and the Presuppositions of Morality
Emotions, Values, and Beliefs
“You Are That”
A Metaphysics of Wholeness and Morality
Factual Beliefs, Values, and Mystical Experiences
“Beyond Good and Evil”
Will Any Actions Do?
Mystical Decision-Making
Mystical Selflessness and Morality

Epilogue: The Demise of Mysticism Today
The Antimystical Climate Today
Accepting Mysticism Today
A Mystical Revolution?
A Thirst for Transcendence

Notes
References and Further Reading
Index

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