1. London
    Joined
    02 Mar '04
    Moves
    36061
    28 Nov '05 12:591 edit
    This analogy has been used quite a few times on this thread (most notably in discussions between vistesd and myself), so I thought it might be worthwhile just to flesh it out a little so we can compare the basic positions of different religions.

    The 'Map' and the 'Territory'

    To me, the 'territory' represents the range of spiritual paths a person can take and the landmarks he will encounter on his journey. The territory has a 'destination' - a final point in the person's journey. This destination is God (with the theistic faiths) or Ultimate Being, Ground-of-Being etc. (with the the monistic faiths). Each religion or philosophical spiritual system represents a 'map' of the territory; i.e. a description of the territory, the key landmarks and a description of the destination. Obviously, the map is not the territory, and even the most exceedingly accurate map is useless unless the person actually makes the journey for himself - and the reality of the territory will always be greater than what is described in the map.

    (Contd.)
  2. London
    Joined
    02 Mar '04
    Moves
    36061
    28 Nov '05 13:101 edit
    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 the territory.

    2. Objectivism: Every human being has to traverse the same territory, but could start off at different points and, hence, will travel different paths to arrive at the same destination.

    Given the objectivist position, there are four views one can take on maps:

    a. Exclusivism: Only one map is valid or accurate vis-a-vis the territory, and anyone who does not use this map will not arrive at the destination.

    b. Inclusivism: All maps are more or less valid or accurate; you will arrive at the destination no matter which map you use.

    c. Pluralism: Some maps are valid/accurate while others are not. If one uses one of the valid maps, one will arrive at the destination.

    d. Universalism*: Only one map is accurate or valid vis-a-vis the territory; most other maps will present some aspects of the territory accurately and not others. Sticking to the accurate map will get you to the destination regardless of your starting point; but you could arrive at the destination anyway depending on which other map you're using and what your starting point is.

    ---
    * My term - essentially the Catholic (Gk. 'Universal'😉 position.
  3. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    28 Nov '05 13:531 edit
    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]
    In what sense are you using the term Objectivism? Are you referring to the "philosophy" of Ayn Rand? Or is no.2 merely referring to Absolutism?
  4. London
    Joined
    02 Mar '04
    Moves
    36061
    28 Nov '05 14:291 edit
    Originally posted by rwingett
    In what sense are you using the term Objectivism? Are you referring to the "philosophy" of Ayn Rand? Or is no.2 merely referring to Absolutism?
    The term '[moral] objectivism' is, in discussions of ethics (which I've extended to religious and spiritual philosophy here), the opposite of 'relativism':

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/ethics.htm
    http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~alatus/phil1200/RelativismObjectivism.html
    http://academics.vmi.edu/PSY_dr/relativism.htm
    etc.

    It appears to be synonymous with '[ethical] absolutism' - though the former term seems to be more common in technical literature.
  5. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    28 Nov '05 15:521 edit
    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.
    __________________________

    Some proposals—

    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.
  6. Standard memberBosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    Spiel des Lebens
    Joined
    27 Jan '05
    Moves
    83887
    28 Nov '05 15:53
    This is the kind of discussion I was hoping for with my thread on moral relativism. Carry on, chaps...
  7. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    28 Nov '05 16:00
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    This is the kind of discussion I was hoping for with my thread on moral relativism. Carry on, chaps...
    That is/was a good thread. I think this one just broadens it a bit...
  8. London
    Joined
    02 Mar '04
    Moves
    36061
    28 Nov '05 16:41
    Originally posted by vistesd
    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 perspe ...[text shortened]... d does not necessarily have anything “supernatural” about it; it is not restricted to religion.
    One quick point - I don't think you can contrast Perspectivism with Objectivism and Relativism as described above. The reason being that perspectivism is an epistemic position, whereas objectivism and relativism are metaphysical viewpoints. So, really, we can talk about perspectivist relativism (which seems a bit redundant) and, more interestingly, perspectivist objectivism.
  9. Standard memberPalynka
    Upward Spiral
    Halfway
    Joined
    02 Aug '04
    Moves
    8702
    29 Nov '05 11:01
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    One quick point - I don't think you can contrast Perspectivism with Objectivism and Relativism as described above. The reason being that perspectivism is an epistemic position, whereas objectivism and relativism are metaphysical viewpoints. So, really, we can talk about perspectivist relativism (which seems a bit redundant) and, more interestingly, perspectivist objectivism.
    LH, by your definition, is it possible for the territory to be the same, but the destinations different? I interpret it as it being impossible, so what I'll write is conditioned by this.

    Perspectivism, as I interpret vistesd's post, would be a subset of objectivism.

    It sounds contradictory at first, since the idea of perspectivism as a relativist aspect, but this aspect is concerned only with the validity of each map and not with different territories (relative to each person).

    In a perspectivist's view, the territory would be the same and unique, but impossible to charter in one single map. This impossibility makes it fundamentally different from the four other views on maps and should be added to them, or at least specified.

    I believe Pluralism contains the cases of Universalism and Perspectivism, but a little more specification doesn't necessarily imply a loss of generality. Pluralism may exclude perspectivism on the grounds of the second statement contained in its definition (If one uses one of the valid maps, one will arrive at the destination.
    ), but we would enter considerations about what is a "valid map" (is it one that allows one to reach the destination or one that has a positive truth value associated with the whole of it)

    If we look at both Universalism and Perspectivism, they are fundamentally different, although being sub-sets of a very large group. In my view, it makes sense to specify them as such or redefine Pluralism in order to exclude them.
  10. London
    Joined
    02 Mar '04
    Moves
    36061
    29 Nov '05 16:091 edit
    Originally posted by Palynka
    LH, by your definition, is it possible for the territory to be the same, but the destinations different? I interpret it as it being impossible, so what I'll write is conditioned by this.

    Perspectivism, as I interpret vistesd's post, would be a subset of objectivism.

    It sounds contradictory at first, since the idea of perspectivism as a relativist asp ...[text shortened]... my view, it makes sense to specify them as such or redefine Pluralism in order to exclude them.
    Re: Pluralism

    Your critique is, of course, correct, so I'll need to revise my definition of pluralism:

    Pluralism: Some maps (more than one, but not all) are valid/accurate while others are not. If one uses one of the valid maps, one will arrive at the destination.

    Re: "Validity"

    I'm using 'validity' and 'accuracy' of maps almost synonymously; but distinct from 'effectiveness'. A valid/accurate map is one that captures all the essential or basic elements or landmarks of the territory - it does not claim a territorial feature or landmark exists where none does; nor does it claim that none exists where one does. So, the idea of truth value corresponds to validity/accuracy.

    Effectiveness, on the other hand, is whether the map allows you to get to your destination. For instance, depending on where one starts off and thinks he is on the map, it might be possible to reach St. Paul's in London using a map of Beunos Aires.

    Naturally, a valid map will also be effective; but the converse is not necessarily true.
  11. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    29 Nov '05 16:251 edit
    Originally posted by Palynka
    LH, by your definition, is it possible for the territory to be the same, but the destinations different? I interpret it as it being impossible, so what I'll write is conditioned by this.

    Perspectivism, as I interpret vistesd's post, would be a subset of objectivism.

    It sounds contradictory at first, since the idea of perspectivism as a relativist asp ...[text shortened]... my view, it makes sense to specify them as such or redefine Pluralism in order to exclude them.
    I think we are not talking about different territories—but, experiences of it, and thus descriptions (“maps” ), may be particular.

    In a perspectivist's view, the territory would be the same and unique, but impossible to charter in one single map. This impossibility makes it fundamentally different from the four other views on maps and should be added to them, or at least specified.

    I think that’s it. Form the perspectivist viewpoint: (1) the only wholly accurate map of the territory would be the territory; (2) the more maps from the greater range of perspectives, the greater the potential understanding of the territory (e.g., road maps, topographical maps, geological maps, weather maps&hellip😉.

    …considerations about what is a "valid map" (is it one that allows one to reach the destination or one that has a positive truth value associated with the whole of it)

    Can these two be collapsed for the sake of simplicity in discussion? Maybe not. Actually, this may describe one aspect of past discussions LH and I have had on this: My main interest in maps is their efficacy in allowing me to reach the destination (the experience of the ineffable real, that I described above). I have a hypothesis that, in any such experience, the brain immediately is trying to “translate” the ineffable into effable categories (hence, images, auditions, etc.), and that the subsequent maps reflect this translation. Hence I am rejecting the idea of a (divine?) revelation that is simply received as such, and can then be accurately articulated. In terms of perspectivism, this means that any description from a given perspective includes as an element the translation of the perceiver.

    This may be one reason why Zen Buddhist “maps” often take the form of paradoxical puzzles (koans) aimed at short-circuiting the discursive mind, and “bootstrap” you into the territory. All maps are “fingers pointing at the moon.” This is the position that I take.

    If we look at both Universalism and Perspectivism, they are fundamentally different, although being sub-sets of a very large group. In my view, it makes sense to specify them as such or redefine Pluralism in order to exclude them.

    Yes, I agree.

    All we all agreed that we are talking about an objectivist position, as LH has defined it? And that universalism and perspectivism are epistemic approaches to that metaphysical position, as per LH’s corrective post to me?

    BTW, Palynka, have you read Ortega y Gasset?
  12. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    20 Dec '05 16:19
    Bump
  13. London
    Joined
    02 Mar '04
    Moves
    36061
    20 Dec '05 16:261 edit
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Bump
    I have an article sitting on my home PC somewhere that is unfinished*, but I might as well ask a key question here:

    Your view seems to be that all "maps" are man-made and, hence, cannot represent a comprehensive and accurate view of the territory. Correct?

    Do you discount the possibility that God (whatever form the religion takes - except pantheism) can Himself draw a map for humans to use? Would that suffer the perspectivist limitation?

    ---
    * Not unsurprising since I haven't had a Net connection at home for two weeks!
  14. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    20 Dec '05 17:032 edits
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    I have an article sitting on my home PC somewhere that is unfinished*, but I might as well ask a key question here:

    Your view seems to be that all "maps" are man-made and, hence, cannot represent a comprehensive and accurate view of the territory. Correct?

    Do you discount the possibility that God (whatever form the religion takes - except pant ...[text shortened]... itation?

    ---
    * Not unsurprising since I haven't had a Net connection at home for two weeks!
    Yes, you asked that in another thread, so I’ll just patch in my answer here, with a small addendum—

    This is really a tough question for me. On the one hand, I take the natural cosmos, including humanity as part of it, as itself a “map.” I also think that maps come out of bona fide mystical experiences, although I believe that all such maps are in a sense “provisional,” since I do not think that such experiences are one-way experiences of “revelation,” but are immediately subject to “translation” by the human brain/mind into terms and content that it/we can deal with. I think that a great part of the religious maps (including scriptural ones) come out of that. In both cases, I have to say that the “divine” for me is not supernatural (“extra-natural”?), but natural—the ineffable ground of being; whether that entails the pronoun “it” or can be subject to (or, more precisely, the subject of) more personal terms, I am uncertain. If you will recall our brief discussion of Advaita Vedanta versus Kashmiri Shaivism, that seemed to be one of the differences between them.

    Addendum: Even assuming an “extra-natural” God who communicates to humanity, my statement of such revelations being provisional because of what I call “immediate translation” into terms that the human mind can deal with, would still hold. (How many discussions have there been on here about the limitations on understanding God from the scriptures because they are written in human terms?)

    Therefore, I would still hold that to the “perspectivist principle.”

    LATE EDIT: With regard to mystical experiences, I think we always need to keep in mind psychological (which is not to say psycho-pathological) explanations—the unconscious, if you will. I had a friend who had an experience that he described as so powerful, blowing away all his religious preconceptions, that it must have originated from some source outside his own mind. My response, without denying his experience (I’m leaving out a lot of details here) was that perhaps he had too paltry a view of the power of our minds. Again, my argument was that all such things need to be “kept open,” if that is a better phrase than “provisional.”
  15. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    12 Sep '06 22:131 edit
    Bump.

    Way back when, this thread seemed to promise some good discussion, but seemed to “die on the vine” as we were sorting out terms, etc. So I thought I’d see if I could resurrect/reincarnate it.

    While I wait to see if there’s any further interest, I will revisit my own position—to see if it’s changed (I suspect it has, though marginally).

    EDIT: Can I make a plea that this discussion not "devolve," as so many on here seem to do, into a debate purely over morality? Anyway, I am making that plea. When the discussion just becomes one of competing moral views, and their justification, etc., then I'm not interested. It would be refreshing to avoid that...
Back to Top