Originally posted by lucifershammer
[b]Basic 'Cartographic' Positions
Given the description of map and territory above, there are two basic positions one can assume about them:
1. Relativism: Each person has a fundamentally different territory from every other person's; each person has a different destination and, hence, each person will need his own map to traverse ...[text shortened]... ur starting point is.
* My term - essentially the Catholic (Gk. 'Universal' position.[/b]
I’d like to add a third alternative to just relativism and objectivism: perspectivism.
From wikipedia: “Perspectivism is the philosophical view that all perception takes place from a specific perspective. It is sometimes contrasted with objectivism
On this epsiemtic view, there is no way to gain a knowledge that transcends all perspectives (knowledge from the “God’s eye” viewpoint). Reality is essentially relational—everything is seen as it stands in relation to something else (e.g., the figure and the ground; think of those puzzle-pictures that change depending on what you focus on: what becomes figure, what becomes ground); all of the relations cannot be considered from a single point; adopting multiple viewpoints (multiple maps) permits one to have a more comprehensive understanding of various relations. Knowledge is possible; total knowledge is not. Perspectivism is not relativism in that it does not hold that any one
is as good as any other, nor that there cannot be totally inaccurate maps; it does hold that no single
map can capture more than a limited portion of the territory (think topographical maps versus street maps, etc.), nor articulate all the possible paths for getting there.
The perspectivist viewpoint rules out exclusivism. All maps are limited and to that extent provisional. Once again, the “gem” metaphor:
A priest I knew once said it is as if God were an immense, many-faceted gem—so immense that no one can see all the facets (even from the inside). The facets refract the (internal) light in many colors. Why should anyone of us assume that our perspective captures the whole of it; or that because another’s description from their perspective does not conform to ours, that their view is necessarily invalid; or that our perspective presents the best viewpoint for everyone? What we cannot see, we call mystery; sometimes the perspective from where someone else stands can shed some light on the mystery. (This is a statement of perspectivism, not relativism, as I understand the terms.)
Re relativism: I take the view that the territory is the same; each persons experience of the territory will be unique; each person will likely need to make their own marginal notes on whatever map(s) they use.
Re inclusivism: I think there are undoubtely some phony maps (I’m limiting myself for this discussion to finding the territory in this life, not after death).
Re pluralism: I pretty much stand here, with the perspectivist twist that studying multiple maps may be more helpful.
Re universalism: This seems to me to be a subset of pluralism. It does not seem to be consistent with perspectivism.
When I think of the territory, I think of it largely in the sense of the definition I offered in another thread:
Let me define “mystical” experience broadly here, in terms that I think bbarr, for instance, might agree with: “the direct (unmediated by discursive thought) experience of the ineffable real ground of our being.”* This ineffable real ground might be called God, or Tao, or Brahman, or just “the ground.” It could also be (in whole or in part) the “unconscious.”
Maps are understandings and practices that get you there. One can read a map and understand the map, but never set out on the journey. For me, the “accuracy” of any map means its efficacy in guiding you along the journey.
Since all maps are drawn from individuals’ experiences of the territory—i.e., the experience translated into effable terms, and from memory—all maps are subject to perspectivism. There are many paths to the territory; the territory itself is described in a variety of ways.
Reports from the mystics of all traditions—theist and nontheist—speak of occasions where someone found themselves in the territory with no (conscious, at least) effort at map reading or making a journey. In western traditions, that might be called grace.
* Mystical in this sense has nothing to with the occult and does not necessarily have anything “supernatural” about it; it is not restricted to religion.