1. Hmmm . . .
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    20 Jun '07 06:25
    Something that Blakbuzzard said about truth versus facticity triggered this—

    I am somewhat skeptical about applying the word “truth” to religious/spiritual propositions, at least in terms of a truth that one can epistemologically confirm.

    By this statement, I am really not talking about violating the logical rule that A and ~A cannot both be true at the same time. Dualism and non-dualism cannot both be propositionally true, as propositions. However—

    If I say that Beethoven’s Ninth symphony is “true,” I do not mean that it somehow contains or expresses a propositional truth claim. I am saying that it exhibits a certain kind of harmony and coherence that I might call “trueness.” As in the “trueness” of the grain of wood; or “true-ing up” the corners of a house; or sighting down a piece of lumber to see if it’s “true” or warped.

    In this sense, to say that if a Bach fugue is “true,” then a Ravi Shankar raga must be “false” is nonsensical. To say that if a shade of blue in the visible spectrum is true, then the color yellow must be false is nonsensical (I may be experiencing blue; you may be experiencing yellow). A certain wavelength range cannot exhibit both blueness and yellowness at the same time, but light contains those and other wavelengths (some invisible to humans) as well.

    I really think that, at its best, religious experience/expression is more like Beethoven (or Ravi Shankar) than like propositional logic—or empirical science.

    All spiritual (for lack of a better word) experience is, I believe, participatory. “I” am never separate from that experience, any more than “I” am separate from my experience of music—and what I ultimately know of music (as opposed to knowing things about it—composition and the like) is known in that experience. That is also true, I think, for the writers of various religious texts—as well as for readers of such texts. That is why I adhere to the rabbinical dictum (I forget where I first came across it) that one must bring one’s own torah to the torah-text—and out of that hermeneutical engagement, new Torah may be generated. I adhere to that principle in reading, say, the Upanishads as well.

    Of course, there is in all that, some propositional content—i.e., statements about the nature of religion at its “truest.” I am only proposing that we can push the propositional (truth-claim) content of religions too far. The mystics seem to have little trouble communicating beyond the barriers of particular truth-claims, in order to share the “trueness” that lies behind them.
  2. Cape Town
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    20 Jun '07 06:57
    Originally posted by vistesd
    In this sense, to say that if a Bach fugue is “true,” then a Ravi Shankar raga must be “false” is nonsensical. To say that if a shade of blue in the visible spectrum is true, then the color yellow must be false is nonsensical.
    That is because you are using the word true in one of its alternative meanings. But it is also nonsensical to state that if a Bach fugue is “true” the the Bach fugue is "the truth" as that would be a misinterpretation of the word 'true' as used.
    The use of the word 'true' as you are using it is closer to 'equals' or 'uniform' than it is to 'logically correct'. I guess it could be thought of as 'internally logically consistent.' For example the grain of wood is true if it is straight or logically consistent with the desired straight line. A shade of blue would be 'true' if it is the exact shade desired. A Bach fugue is “true” if it is consistent with the definition of a fugue (or possibly a good fugue) keeping in mind that the definition in question might be an experience we have when listening to it rather than an mathematical definition.
    One can have a 'true religious experience' even if the experience was one of a non-existent entity ie not the truth.
  3. Hmmm . . .
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    20 Jun '07 07:42
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    That is because you are using the word true in one of its alternative meanings. But it is also nonsensical to state that if a Bach fugue is “true” the the Bach fugue is "the truth" as that would be a misinterpretation of the word 'true' as used.
    The use of the word 'true' as you are using it is closer to 'equals' or 'uniform' than it is to 'logically cor ...[text shortened]... nce' even if the experience was one of a non-existent entity ie not the truth.
    That is because you are using the word true in one of its alternative meanings.

    Granted. I am proposing that, by and large, the “alternative” is more reasonable in religious/spiritual contexts.

    But it is also nonsensical to state that if a Bach fugue is “true” the Bach fugue is "the truth" as that would be a misinterpretation of the word 'true' as used.

    This is my point. And I think that one can speak of (again, for lack of a better word) spiritual “truth” in the alternative sense of my suggested “trueness,” rather than in the propositional sense.

    Of course, one must try to be clear about what one means. In the alternative sense, the opposite of true is not false. It might be inconsistent (as in an oak tree exhibiting grain particular to a pine tree), or discordant or “out of line” (as in a crooked house).

    One can have a 'true religious experience' even if the experience was one of a non-existent entity ie not the truth.

    Or, one can have a “true religious experience” even if one confuses the immediate conceptual “translation” of the experience into particular content, with the experience itself—and takes the “translated” mental content as expressive of “the truth.” (Which, from my non-dualist position, may be pretty much what you’ve said here.)

    An analogy I have used: My brain translates certain visual stimuli into a picture in my head of a tree. An animal with a different neuro-physiology may have an entirely different picture. Both may be “true”—neither may be “the truth.” (A direct realist would have to assert that one was the actual “truth”; a representational realist would not—she would simply be able to say that both pictures are “true,” each in relation to the perspective of the viewing agent. The underlying reality may not be accurately described by either picture, although both may be—and probably are—pragmatically sufficient to allow that creature to navigate in the real world.)

    I might drop the notion of “trueness” in a spiritual context altogether, if that were not taken to imply falsity.

    A shade of blue would be 'true' if it is the exact shade desired. A Bach fugue is “true” if it is consistent with the definition of a fugue (or possibly a good fugue) keeping in mind that the definition in question might be an experience we have when listening to it rather than an mathematical definition.

    Agreed. Translated into a spiritual context, however, the first example would imply that one had a desire for a predetermined experience—Krishna or nothing.

    The second example I need to think about a bit. At the moment I’m thinking something like: one’s Christianity (Bach) is “true” if one’s understanding accords with, say, traditional interpretations of the Nicene Creed; one’s Vedanta (Shankar) may be “true” if it accords with the Upanishads. However, from a larger perspectivist point of view (ala the visual analogy above), the “trueness” of each does not necessitate the “falsity” of the other.

    Helpful comments, tw—thanks.
  4. Cape Town
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    20 Jun '07 08:151 edit
    If I say someone is a 'true' Christian then I mean that he is conforming to the definition of a Christian. One could not in this sense really label anyone a 'false' Christian but would rather say he is 'not a true Christian'. Also you could actually have two 'true Christians' who have quite different and conflicting beliefs. You could also have a 'true' Buddhist.
    On the other hand there have been threads previously where the discussion centered around who was a True Christian by which I think they meant who's beliefs were actually factual. Many Christians will also label some of the other denominations/sects as 'not Christian' by which they mean 'their beliefs are so different from mine that I do not want to be associated with them.' or possibly 'they are faking it' or 'they have been deceived by the devil' etc.
  5. Hmmm . . .
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    20 Jun '07 08:40
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    If I say someone is a 'true' Christian then I mean that he is conforming to the definition of a Christian. One could not in this sense really label anyone a 'false' Christian but would rather say he is 'not a true Christian'. Also you could actually have two 'true Christians' who have quite different and conflicting beliefs. You could also have a 'true' B ...[text shortened]... possibly 'they are faking it' or 'they have been deceived by the devil' etc.
    I might be a “true heretic” wherever I go...
  6. Cape Town
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    20 Jun '07 09:19
    Originally posted by vistesd
    I might be a “true heretic” wherever I go...
    That statement 'rings true'.
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    20 Jun '07 09:33
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Something that Blakbuzzard said about truth versus facticity triggered this—

    I am somewhat skeptical about applying the word “truth” to religious/spiritual propositions, at least in terms of a truth that one can epistemologically confirm.

    By this statement, I am really not talking about violating the logical rule that A and ~A cannot both be true at th ...[text shortened]... the barriers of particular truth-claims, in order to share the “trueness” that lies behind them.
    If all theists regarded their religions in this way there'd be no problem. Alas most of them want to reconcile your view of truthiness with factual or logical truths and that's where the problem is. I think a good dose of spiritualism needs to be injected back into religion to cancel out the materialist aspect it seems to have picked up.
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    20 Jun '07 11:31
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Something that Blakbuzzard said about truth versus facticity triggered this—

    I am somewhat skeptical about applying the word “truth” to religious/spiritual propositions, at least in terms of a truth that one can epistemologically confirm.

    By this statement, I am really not talking about violating the logical rule that A and ~A cannot both be true at th ...[text shortened]... the barriers of particular truth-claims, in order to share the “trueness” that lies behind them.
    All spiritual (for lack of a better word) experience is, I believe, participatory.

    All experience is participatory. If I see a person wearing a red shirt, my perception of the shirt's colour will surely have a lot to do with what frequencies of light my optical nerves can process, or if I am colour-blind etc. If there is any non-skeptical epistemology that allows us to know objective facts such as these, I do not see why we cannot also know spiritual "facts".
  9. London
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    20 Jun '07 11:33
    Originally posted by vistesd
    I might be a “true heretic” wherever I go...
    Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps there is a certain attractiveness to being a "true heretic" wherever you go, a perpetual state of rebellion against authority.
  10. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    20 Jun '07 12:36
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    If there is any non-skeptical epistemology that allows us to know objective facts such as these, I do not see why we cannot also know spiritual "facts".
    I'm having trouble following you--what objective facts did you mention?
  11. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    20 Jun '07 12:53
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps there is a certain attractiveness to being a "true heretic" wherever you go, a perpetual state of rebellion against authority.
    Interestingly enough, heretic stems from the Greek hairetikos--"able to choose".
  12. London
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    20 Jun '07 13:00
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    I'm having trouble following you--what objective facts did you mention?
    Perceiving that the man across the room is, indeed, wearing a red shirt.

    "An egg is an egg." -- Chesterton (paraphrasing Aquinas)
  13. Cape Town
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    20 Jun '07 13:02
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    If there is any non-skeptical epistemology that allows us to know objective facts such as these, I do not see why we cannot also know spiritual "facts".
    Why would spiritual 'facts' not be objective facts? Is it still right to call them 'facts' at all? Why would they require a unique method? Since you clearly differentiate them you can hardly use any knowledge of objective facts to make conclusions about how or whether you can know spiritual facts.
  14. London
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    20 Jun '07 13:021 edit
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Interestingly enough, heretic stems from the Greek hairetikos--"able to choose".
    heresy:

    ETYMOLOGY: Middle English heresie, from Old French, from Late Latin haeresis, from Late Greek hairesis, from Greek, a choosing, faction, from haireisthai, to choose, middle voice of hairein, to take.

    http://www.bartleby.com/61/18/H0161800.html
  15. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    20 Jun '07 13:05
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    heresy:

    ETYMOLOGY: Middle English heresie, from Old French, from Late Latin haeresis, from Late Greek hairesis, from Greek, a choosing, faction, from haireisthai, to choose, middle voice of hairein, to take.

    http://www.bartleby.com/61/18/H0161800.html
    Yes, LH...

    heretic /hertk/ n. & a. ME. [(O)Fr. heretique, f. eccl.L haereticus a. & n., f. eccl.Gk hairetikos heretical (Gk = able to choose) f. Gk haireomai: see prec.: see -IC.]

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