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Old 03-13-2010, 04:03 AM   #326
Ruv Draba
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Originally Posted by AMCrenshaw View Post
It's fiction. And "the point of it" exists in the realm of metaphor, in the question of whether a dog can be a cat. And it seems that in some places outside of poetry, it's allowed. Well-researched?
AMC, our subtopic is gradually creeping from whether empiricism can ever yield mysticism (an idea introduced by Di and indirectly by Aruna) to what science means in mysticism. We can see the terms are swapping from scientific meanings toward poetical meanings. which is relocating the centre.

But as you might guess, I have no great interest in what science means to mysticism, because in my experience myticism can make whatever meaning it likes of anything.

I acknowledge that poetry can draw on a palette of images from multiple domains, and use them in different ways, and connect them in different ways. I also acknowledge (in fact I asserted) that poetical aesthetics are not normally scientific discipline -- which is one reason that science is no more mystical today than it was four centuries ago. I've also suggested (and now I'll assert) that beauty isn't truth, and coming up with a nice poetical aesthetic in our minds is no guarantee that reality will oblige by following it.

If you want to explore what science means to mysticism I bet there are several people here who'd jump on it. Alas though, I'm not one of them, because 'mysticism' and 'truth' don't appear together in my sentences. [Except that last one, maybe. ]

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Old 03-13-2010, 04:42 AM   #327
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Yes, because for you there is only one kind of truth. I split "truth" up into facts and meaning, which shouldn't be crossed. Part of my verging on asking, what does science mean to mysticism? is the idea that mystics can be fair to science, that is, they can present facts as facts.

What talk is there of meaning within empiricism?



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Old 03-13-2010, 05:14 AM   #328
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Originally Posted by AMCrenshaw View Post
What talk is there of meaning within empiricism?
I don't know if you want to call it meaning or not... but in empirical study, terms are used as referents for objects and operations. So a term 'means' the object or operation it points to. We're allowed a term or two for things that may not exist, but only if our operations are testing for their existence. All our other terms need to be specific, tangible, repeatable and unambiguous.

But perhaps you're talking about 'significance', which I would describe as that object's material influence on our decision-making about the physical world. E.g. we can define a fire as a rapid exothermic oxidation, but its significance to us includes illumination, warmth, property damage and threat to life.

But a mystic would probably describe 'significance' of fire as more than that -- as in an object's symbolic influence on our decision-making (e.g. as an omen), or even an object's symbolic influence on our perception of self (e.g. as a dream-symbol).

Again, to my mind that can be anything so rationally I have no use for it, except perhaps when we're trying to map a mind itself.

The problem for me is this... there is a whole class of minds who play with words as though they are tangible objects. I can appreciate that aesthetically and enjoy word-games myself, but I see a tangle of semantic silliness when we start pretending that those word-games apply to the physicality we share. Calling a cat a dog may make us treat it more like a dog, may even induce some dog-like behaviours in it, but we know that its descendants won't care. We haven't changed its species -- only its transient use. So saying it's 'true' that this cat is a dog -- or worse, that we've magically transformed the cat into a dog -- just debases a core virtue of truth: that it's independent of observer.

That's sort-of what I thought was happening in the latest exchanges -- I sensed a shell-and-pea game being played with definition, which I thought would make the discussion more rhetorical than constructive.

That 'other truth' you're talking about... I'd call it conviction. It includes objective, shareable truth (if we believe in it), but also stuff we believe seriously and are willing to act on, whether others can verify it or not. It may be that for some people, emotional conviction is indistinguishable from shareable truth (in fact, I'm pretty sure that it is); it's also true that for some folk, it's not. So conviction may equal truth for you, but for me they sit in different places and I do different things with them. They're functionally disjunct in the way my mind works and it's simply not possible for argument to rejoin them.

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Old 03-13-2010, 05:30 AM   #329
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Originally Posted by Ruv Draba View Post
I don't know if you want to call it meaning or not... but in empirical study, terms are used as referents for objects and operations. So a term 'means' the object or operation it points to. We're allowed a term or two for things that may not exist, but only if our operations are testing for their existence. All our other terms and operations need to be specific, tangible, repeatable and unambiguous.
Yes that is meaning, "reference" really, but not what I was talking about.

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But perhaps you're talking about 'significance', which I would describe as that object's material influence on our decision-making about the physical world.
What object are you talking about here? i.e., what's considered an object?


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But a mystic would probably describe 'significance' as more than that -- as in an object's symbolic influence on our decision-making, or even an object's symbolic influence on our perception of self.
And what is a "symbolic influence" when it comes to actual decision-making? Or do you mean indirect influence?




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Old 03-13-2010, 05:46 AM   #330
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What object are you talking about here?
Objects are items we can collect and put in cases, or behaviours we can observe. Operations are recipes we can reproduce faithfully.

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And what is a "symbolic influence" when it comes to actual decision-making? Or do you mean indirect influence?
Superstition is full of objects having symbolic influence... for example, we may believe that if we walk under a ladder, badness will happen. This may lead us to act more cautiously for the rest of the day and that may change our expected outcomes. But if I don't believe that walking under ladders is bad luck then I won't change my behaviour and clinically there is no difference to if I hadn't walked under it. We can perform double-blind clinical trials to demonstrate this.

By contrast, fires have tangible influence. It's the behaviour of the fire which burns us, regardless of what the fire signifies to us. So we can flee it, or dash through it quickly, or insulate ourselves, depending on what we know about its behaviour. And it's repeatable, independent of observer or the observer's thoughts.
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Old 03-13-2010, 05:55 AM   #331
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Originally Posted by Ruv Draba View Post
That 'other truth' you're talking about... I'd call it conviction. It includes objective, shareable truth (if we believe in it), but also stuff we believe seriously and are willing to act on, whether others can verify it or not. It may be that for some people, emotional conviction is indistinguishable from shareable truth (in fact, I'm pretty sure that it is); it's also true that for some folk, it's not. So conviction may equal truth for you, but for me they sit in different places and I do different things with them. They're functionally disjunct in the way my mind works and it's simply not possible for argument to rejoin them.
I can understand that and agree to a large extent. But I'd add I don't think any of us knows 'the truth' so all we're left with is 'convictions.' The verity of a fact-statement depends mostly on its coherence within a constructed system, that is, whether or not a certain fact-statement agrees or disagrees with that system. These systems are our own constructions; our senses construct reality, they do not yield it!



I also wanted to ask, on what basis do you assert that meaning can't be shared?



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Old 03-13-2010, 06:01 AM   #332
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Superstition is full of objects having symbolic influence... for example, we may believe that if we walk under a ladder, badness will happen. This may lead us to act more cautiously for the rest of the day and that may change our expected outcomes. But if I don't believe that walking under ladders is bad luck then I won't change my behaviour and clinically there is no difference to if I hadn't walked under it. We can perform double-blind clinical trials to demonstrate this.
Well could you start again assuming the mystic isn't four years old? (That is, concerning something other than superstition, which - between you and me - is a straw man I'm tired of having to dump in the garbage every time you and the word mysticism cross paths).



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It's the behaviour of the fire which burns us, regardless of what the fire signifies to us.
But where do you think "what the fire signifies to us" comes from or is built upon if not sensory experience, emotion, intuition, reason, experience, observation, desire, memory...? Doesn't the expression of these things build a picture?


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Old 03-13-2010, 06:19 AM   #333
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I can understand that and agree to a large extent. But I'd add I don't think any of us knows 'the truth' so all we're left with is 'convictions.'
I think I smell the primrose scent of idealism in the air, so let me add the phenol stench of pragmatism.

We have shareable empirical experience that we both can't fly. So compelling is that experience that neither of us jumps off tall buildings. Yes, it's conviction, but it's shared, pragmatic and exhaustively derived. Probably (possibly) both of us had an idealistic time in our young lives when we thought that we could if we just had a big enough cape, and the empirical reality of the world beat that belief out of us.

So strong is that conviction now that should a mutual friend be about to jump off a tall building, I expect that we'd act as one to stop him -- idealist and pragmatist alike. But it would be pragmatism and exhaustive testing creating our shared conviction and making us impose our collective beliefs on some fellow who didn't agree with us. Because empirically we don't know for darn-tootin sure that this particular dude can't fly.

You might not want to call that 'truth', but it's more than mere idealistic conviction. I'm going to call it 'truth', but I don't claim that it's eternal or complete. But it is reliably actionable, independently confirmable and beyond reasonable dispute. So that's what truth is to me: propositions that work regardless of your level of conviction.
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our senses construct reality, they do not yield it!
Feel free to prove me wrong by leaping off a tall building if you feel so sure of that.

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I also wanted to ask, on what basis do you assert that meaning can't be shared?
I assume you mean 'symbolic or psychological significance'. It can, but not reliably. Material significance can be shared very reliably though. Fire burns us all.
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Old 03-13-2010, 06:24 AM   #334
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Just as you say, "just because it's beautiful doesn't mean it's true" I say, "just because it's useful doesn't mean it's true".



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Old 03-13-2010, 09:01 AM   #335
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Originally Posted by AMCrenshaw View Post
"just because it's useful doesn't mean it's true".
Both beauty and utility can be proven false.

But science never supplants with a less useful proposition and calls it more true. While mysticism does it can never intersect with science, though mystics who ignore utility and favour aesthetics will happily convince themselves that it can.
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:43 AM   #336
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Well could you start again assuming the mystic isn't four years old?
Er.. sorry. I didn't know what your question meant, so I just answered it as fully as I could. And please bear in mind that our readership here is broad.

But in a sense, mysticism is four years old. That's about the time when our brains begin making intuitive-feely leaps about consequence. When we think we can wish things into existence -- or out of it. It's also when a bunch of other cognitive faculties start to form, like morality. Our feeling-intuitions assist us enormously with questions of compassion and empathy and sympathy. But they make a hash of explaining the physical world, which is partly why toddlers up to middle childhood are so cute.

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But where do you think "what the fire signifies to us" comes from or is built upon if not sensory experience, emotion, intuition, reason, experience, observation, desire, memory...? Doesn't the expression of these things build a picture?
I don't know where it comes from. The question is only meaningful to me if I knew what I was going to do with the answer.

Let me guess and say that it's endemic to how we process and recall information. Let me speculate that we form associations with external objects to assist long-term memory and to help process our inner reflections. I don't need to prove that correct; it's just an answer. But the truth is 'I don't know'.

What I do know is that symbolic stories about the world are unreliable, and the less grounded they are in practical examples, the less reliable they are. I've also seen that those who consider them highly reliable are themselves subject to confirmation bias, rewriting experiments and tricks that kids in middle childhood are quite deft at to keep their fantasies alive. Here's a real-world example.

My friend and I were about seven. He had taken some darts from his father's dartboard and we were playing in some scrub in our neighbourhood. Darts are a fun outdoor toy -- you can throw them at trees, try to spear ants with them... But inevitably he lost one.

After ten minutes or so of hunting for it, my friend resorted to magic. He took one of his other darts and told it to find its friend. Then he tossed it up into the air and went where it fell.

I'd like to tell you that he found the missing dart, but he didn't. After a couple of goes, he lost the second dart too. This was a pretty miserable outcome for him, because he'd taken the darts without permission in the first place.

'At least they're together', he said.

But what I saw is that if you throw darts into long grass and fallen branches, you lose them -- almost anywhere you throw them. My friend wanted to believe the magic worked -- it just didn't get him what he wanted. I was pretty convinced that the magic didn't.

That was one of the earliest times at which I decided I would never credit mysticism for an account of how things work.
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Old 03-13-2010, 10:26 AM   #337
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Both beauty and utility can be proven false.

But science never supplants with a less useful proposition and calls it more true.
Useful is a relative term. Some people do their jobs because they want money; others, because they love their jobs. There are crooked scientists, but you prefer to distinguish them from science. I don't mind that. There are crooked mystics, but you cannot distinguish them from mysticism.

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While mysticism does it can never intersect with science, though mystics who ignore utility and favour aesthetics will happily convince themselves that it can.
I see an indirect use for aesthetics like Indra's Net or Dependent Origination, say, but that doesn't mean it's necessary to believe in them to come to the same conclusions (on an ethical basis, for example) as someone who does. In fact since many of the religious people I know are humanists first and foremost, it would seem the cognate in mystic language is really a deja vu of an opinion they've already formed somehow (that is, through observation, experience, memory, etc).

To be clear, that's not the same thing as someone who's raised to believe certain facts about the world which amount nothing more than a motley of fairy tales (before you start thinking I mean the Bible, stop to consider maybe I mean HS texts on US History - besides the dates mostly bullshit written in Plain, Easy-to-Understand English - or TV advertisements).

As I'd said, though, I think poetry's strength is also what you think is its weakness, that it doesn't limit itself to one mode of knowing and can express more angles than can an empirical view alone (this is true by nature of poetry to be able to include scientific/descriptive/empirical discourse, fairly & accurately, if it so chooses).



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Old 03-13-2010, 10:32 AM   #338
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So in other words, poetry isn't limited to uses, functions, and hows, but can include these things if it wishes. And I think the same is true of mysticism.
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Old 03-13-2010, 03:29 PM   #339
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Useful is a relative term. Some people do their jobs because they want money; others, because they love their jobs.
The essential scientific question is 'How does it work?' This question lends itself to many uses: how to enhance it, how to benefit from it, how to stop it, how to avoid harm from it, how to live with it. It's largely a values-free question that allows nearly anyone to play. But it happily admits a values-based frame in which to pursue common good, and can easily support that frame by telling us what is feasible and what is not.

Contrast with mysticism which attempts to tell us who we are and what we should want. A reason I take issue with that is that I feel thought should be materially useful before it's ever prescriptive. I'm fine if individuals want to live individual lives according to an aesthetic, and even make up a personal story about why... I object strongly when such people begin to offer advice, counselling and make judgements about others through that aesthetic before they've independently demonstrated its competence and utility.

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There are crooked mystics, but you cannot distinguish them from mysticism.
Actually, I'd be happy to distinguish them, but what I really need is for mystics to self-distinguish incompetence.

Science is very good at self-managing incompetence. I feel that mysticism is hopeless at that. In fact, I don't think it even has objective criteria for incompetence. That's what comes from each advocate setting his own bar on what evidence should look like, and being accountable to nobody else, and popular opinion deciding who's good and who's not.

What keeps science honest about incompetence is that one's most competent, worst enemy gets to set the bar for evidence. Since they can do that, they can also do it for crookedness. Mystics often won't let anyone else play unless they're sympathetic and pre-indoctrinated (please see some of the discussion upthread to that effect). So the quality assurance (whatever quality might mean to mysticism) is either based on doctrinal adherence (which raises the doctrines themselves into question) or who gets on well together, or it's non-existent.

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I see an indirect use for aesthetics like Indra's Net or Dependent Origination, say, but that doesn't mean it's necessary to believe in them to come to the same conclusions (on an ethical basis, for example) as someone who does.
But the parallel fails here, AMC. Science is about quality of model, not correctness of a single answer. A single failed prediction challenges a whole model. So under scientific scrutiny, a mystic getting a single prediction right and twenty wrong has scored effectively -19, not +1.

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In fact since many of the religious people I know are humanists first and foremost, it would seem the cognate in mystic language is really a deja vu of an opinion they've already formed somehow (that is, through observation, experience, memory, etc).
I have a bunch of humanist mystic friends and love them dearly. But since humanism doesn't require mysticism (and neither do related questions like morality, sympathy, compassion), I still ask the question: outside a personal aesthetic, what's its use?

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As I'd said, though, I think poetry's strength is also what you think is its weakness, that it doesn't limit itself to one mode of knowing and can express more angles than can an empirical view alone
All of which is wonderful! (As I mentioned, I'm a big fan of poetry). But what should be the role of poetry in decision-making about the material world? And why is it well-suited to occupy that role, and what material evidence have we that it does/doesn't do a good job?

[That's not a rhetorical question -- I'm really seeking an answer.]

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Old 03-13-2010, 04:55 PM   #340
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Old 03-13-2010, 07:17 PM   #341
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Originally Posted by Al Ross View Post
Evidence of God? Should we not first agree with what God is?
We seem to be doing kinda okay without it, Al... We've been ranging over evidence of supernatural, mysticism, magic, divinity, origin, metaphysics, the need for evidence at all, what acceptable evidence might look like, and why, why evidence isn't proof, how it relates to proof, what it should be instead, how evidence should be supplied, who gets to judge it... There are multiple themes and subthemes rattling around.

If there's a piece you'd like to carve off, feel free to take a slice.
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:25 PM   #342
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Old 03-13-2010, 11:13 PM   #343
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Originally Posted by Ruv Draba View Post

I have a bunch of humanist mystic friends and love them dearly. But since humanism doesn't require mysticism (and neither do related questions like morality, sympathy, compassion), I still ask the question: outside a personal aesthetic, what's its use?
Because I think poetry can often describe objects and events more truthfully (from more angles, thus producing a fuller model) than can other kinds of statements, it's useful for communication. The war poetry coming out of this country the last 10 years has been very excellent at communicating the reality of the wars in the Middle East, where popular news outlets have failed. So any time a decision depends on the truth, poetry is useful. You think poetry is less shareable than empiricism, and I think that's basically a crock of shit because I know poetry can contain an empirical view.

Even when poetry is about a thing's use, it still goes beyond that. Whatever the empirical view can express, the poetic one can as well.

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But what should be the role of poetry in decision-making about the material world?
To me poetry has no role in decision-making for most people. And it might help people's lives if it did.

Quote:
And why is it well-suited to occupy that role, and what material evidence have we that it does/doesn't do a good job?
Because poetry has the potential to reach many parts of a person's ability to understand. It's hard to say whether or not poetry "does or doesn't" do a good job, because I have to say that relative to the goodness of decision-making that occurs now (which, if you don't mind, I can't quantify). I'd have to decide what's good about decision-making. And would I record that description of goodness poetically or empirically?

But, speaking of war poetry again, when the American poets against the War organized - with Laura Bush - a reading at the White House, and she'd heard the content of the poetry, she canceled the reading immediately. I never thought of her as an overly smart or stupid woman. But why would she have canceled the reading?

Foreseeing that you might be arguing that there is evidence poetry should not be used for decision-making, one has to distinguish dogma and doctrine from poetry. You would prefer, in mysticism, dogma and doctrine (which are, often, as clear-cut-and-dry as shackles) since at least their statements are clear, while I prefer poetry and parable, which allow room to get up and walk around and engage the texts.



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Old 03-14-2010, 01:20 AM   #344
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Originally Posted by AMCrenshaw View Post
Because I think poetry can often describe objects and events more truthfully (from more angles, thus producing a fuller model) than can other kinds of statements, it's useful for communication.
Agreed. Poets write poetry for others to read. Like you, I read poetry to see what others might think and feel. Poetry is very concise and rich communication, and the utilitarian in me delights in its concentration. Well-executed, it provides a delightful map of someone else's perceptions and feelings, and occasionally, inspiration for my own thoughts.

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You think poetry is less shareable than empiricism, and I think that's basically a crock of shit because I know poetry can contain an empirical view.
We could be tripping over the word 'shareable' here. Here's what I mean by it...

Poetry requires a competent writer and an astute reader, and the truth it communicates is a personal, transient truth, a postcard or a snapshot if you will, of the thoughts and feelings of the poet at the time the poem was penned.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Windhover, Gerard Manley Hopkins
I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, - the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
In fact, poetry is equally capable of creating 'fictitious truths' -- compelling, moving fantasies that have no grounding in any objective experience a reader might encounter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by La Belle Dame Sans Merci, John Keats
I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful - a faery's child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.
And equally, what we get from a poem and what the poet pens could be very different, and time and distance and experience may devalue a poem.
Quote:
Originally Posted by T.S Eliot
No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written: He may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing.
So from this I conclude that poetry conveys an experience that is not necessarily shareable, that is not necessarily objective truth, that is not necessarily objectively reliable, and that depends very much on the qualities that poet and reader bring to the communication.

That doesn't make it unimportant -- I think that psychologically and socially it is important. But I think that poetry can conflate inner, transient, subjective perception with that big, reliable beast of a reality in which we all dwell.

When it comes to expressing personal opinion and perception, I like poetry as well as I like any other medium, and better than most. But when it comes to finding truth that anyone can share, that will outlast the poet's experiences, that reach beyond the poet's biases... poetry is not the medium I would choose for the same reason Eliot had reservations.

And for that reason, I'm concerned that mysticism doesn't translate well between people. One's God of humility, sacrifice and compassion can be another's God of arrogance, selfishness and narcissism -- the same mystical process and even the same inspirational poem producing two very different perceptions. Indeed, I think we have evidence that this is exactly what occurs.

For example, ask two Christians what the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers might mean... One might tell you that the battle is struggle against one's inner sin; another that it's a struggle against attacks on the Church; another that it's a triumphant Christian empire covering the land. Probably its author, Sabine Baring-Gould, had very particular thoughts in mind when he penned it in 1865. Given his nationality, class, era, and the comments he made when he penned it, we might guess what he intended, but what it means to Christians now could be very different.

I love poetry, but don't trust poets alone to get anything reliably right. In fact, while T.S. Eliot seemed to be aware of the limits of the 'competence of poetry (and poets)', I don't trust most poets to know even that. The very medium in which they write, and the verve and zeal with which they must pen, almost demands that they over-stretch. And that's what I see in Newton, Goedel and Einstein too. They were genius when they let their poetry inspire their empirical investigations, but flipped into crackpots the moment they were unable to test their thoughts against nature, or reconcile nature telling them NO.
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Old 03-14-2010, 01:43 AM   #345
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Although I'm not an unqualified believer in reader response theory, I think poetry offers the clearest example of its central premise: the poem is written as much by the reader, as he reads it, as by the poet. A lot of what Stanley Fish has written lately (like in the past 20 years) is silly, but I think his early study of Milton, Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost, shows how that can happen.
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Old 03-14-2010, 03:15 AM   #346
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I have some inner conflict on this, CG. I think the reader writes the poem he reads far more than he writes prose (allowing for fairly fuzzy definitions of both). But I can't entirely explain why I think that, or how it might work.
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Old 03-14-2010, 04:35 AM   #347
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Originally Posted by Ruv Draba View Post

Poetry requires a competent writer and an astute reader, and the truth it communicates is a personal, transient truth, a postcard or a snapshot if you will, of the thoughts and feelings of the poet at the time the poem was penned.
Not just thoughts and feelings. But observations. Science isn't different in the respect that the truths communicated are transient. The reasons for that transience are different, though. Kind of.


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In fact, poetry is equally capable of creating 'fictitious truths' -- compelling, moving fantasies that have no grounding in any objective experience a reader might encounter.
This depends on how you define objective, which is an ideal form of knowledge I don't believe we're privy to.

Quote:
When it comes to expressing personal opinion and perception, I like poetry as well as I like any other medium, and better than most. But when it comes to finding truth that anyone can share, that will outlast the poet's experiences, that reach beyond the poet's biases... poetry is not the medium I would choose for the same reason Eliot had reservations.
Fair point. But don't think poor ole Eliot trusted his or anyone else's senses, either.

Quote:
One's God of humility, sacrifice and compassion can be another's God of arrogance, selfishness and narcissism -- the same mystical process and even the same inspirational poem producing two very different perceptions. Indeed, I think we have evidence that this is exactly what occurs.
Which to me says something of the people and not necessarily the "mystical process," whatever that is.

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They were genius when they let their poetry inspire their empirical investigations, but flipped into crackpots the moment they were unable to test their thoughts against nature, or reconcile nature telling them NO.
I'm not sure we ever really know the truth about this thing you call nature. We might have practical knowledge, or knowledge of beauty... but knowledge of 'nature'? It's the same, to me, as knowledge of 'god'.


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Old 03-14-2010, 04:41 AM   #348
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I've heard a lot of people on these Religion boards and elsewhere about the evidence for God. Most atheists and agnostics will claim that there is no evidence, while theists will claim that there is. That leads to a question that I don't think has been covered here: What constitutes evidence for God?

I don't think anyone doubts that there have been thousands, if not millions, of accounts of miraculous events throughout history, even up to the present day. On the other hand, I don't think anyone doubts that many of these have been hoaxes, hallucinations, or misunderstandings. For the sake of illustration, I have two friends that have told me of personally experiencing miraculous healings, which they were able to see happening directly, after being prayed over. While I didn't see either of these events with my own eyes, I have no independent reason for doubting their truthfulness, and they both mentioned multiple witnesses present.

So for the "non-believers": What would you accept as evidence for God? Does my account qualify, and if not, why not?

For the "believers": What evidence do you accept for the existence of God? How would you differentiate between possibly legitimate visions, miracles, etc., and hoaxes or misunderstandings?
believing the things I believe now; I would have to see god. By god, i'm thinking you mean an actual angel-like "thing".

to be convinced there are other levels/planes/frequencies we can tune into or operate on, nothing. i believe in those things now. miracles, spirits, energies and the like.

as far as being able to differentiate between things, that's not necessary for me.
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Old 03-14-2010, 04:56 AM   #349
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Not just thoughts and feelings. But observations. Science isn't different in the respect that the truths communicated are transient. The reasons for that transience are different, though. Kind of.
The problem with idealising truth is that we lose sight of the value of facts. This is as true for scientists as it is for poets and mystics.

We live in a very reliable world full of very reliable facts. We all act as though those facts are reliable (e.g. we'd both stop someone jumping from a tall building). So even if we might entertain the theoretical possibility that truth is other than facts would have it seem, we generally act as though truth is exactly as it seems.

And to me, this makes the idealisation of truth to some unattainable perfection look like sophistry and rhetoric -- debasing utility for no other reason than to elevate the significance of one's personal aesthetics. That's a comment about mysticism in particular, and idealism in general.
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This depends on how you define objective, which is an ideal form of knowledge I don't believe we're privy to.
'Objective' to me simply means repeatable, independently confirmable facts. It's pragmatic, not ideal.
Quote:
Which to me says something of the people and not necessarily the "mystical process," whatever that is.
In science, when good people execute bad process (like Newton playing with alchemy) we get bad results. Similarly, when bad people execute good process (like a tyro performing a titration) we get the same. For science to work we need good people executing good processes so science has to manage competence and repeatability and indeed it does. But as far as I can tell, mysticism generally manages neither. So how can we say that the problem with mysticism is one and not the other?
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I'm not sure we ever really know the truth about this thing you call nature. We might have practical knowledge, or knowledge of beauty... but knowledge of 'nature'? It's the same, to me, as knowledge of 'god'.
I'll say it again: one problem I have with mysticism is that it often debases fact to elevate aesthetics. I can live with a world where some let aesthetics lead -- but I don't think it's helpful to debase fact as part of one's fantasy.
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Old 03-14-2010, 05:54 AM   #350
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How again have I debased "facts" or "utility"? By saying they're not the whole picture...



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