Mysticism Examined: Philosophical Inquiries into Mysticism by Richard H. Jones

By Richard H. Jones

In this choice of revised released articles, Richard Jones examines a number of subject matters on the topic of the philosophy of mysticism: 

  • experience and conceptualization in mystical knowledge, 
  • knowledge and unknowing within the Isa Upanishad, 
  • rationality and mysticism, 
  • the nature of the Buddhist Nagarjuna's arguments, 
  • mystical makes use of of language,
  • a critique of Joseph Needham's writings on Taoism, 
  • the spiritual irrelevance of the Ontological Argument, 
  • a critique of Carl Jung's writings on Asian non secular traditions, 
  • mysticism and morality,
  • Theravada Buddhism and morality. 

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Common featuresovercoming a sense of duality and of selfmay appear similar in isolation but not in their total contexts. Many of Eckhart's remarks sound like translations of Samkara's: such phrases as ''the essence of ignorance is to superimpose finiteness upon God and divinity upon the finite,'' "the all-inclusive One without a second, without distinction, not this, not that," and "isness-in-itself is identically unrestricted knowledge" < previous page page_37 If you like this book, buy it! next page > < previous page page_38 next page > Page 38 have very similar counterparts in Samkara's commentaries.

Next page > < previous page page_32 next page > Page 32 dom do they introduce new terms as Eckhart did; more usually, the concepts behind old terms are altered. In science there are strands of continuity with the past in radical instances of originality, since new theories arise from reflection on the current state of knowledge and its anomalies. If the history of ideas can be likened to evolution, as is often done for science, 31 still it is a form of Lamarckian, not Mendelian, evolution, since the development is not random but involves the inheritance of evolutionally valuable traits each generation acquires in adapting to its cultural environment.

Within this framework, usually mystics discuss their way of life, its values, its goal, and the reality involved. Construals of the mystical are in terms of the reality involved: mystics usually talk about God, ultimate realities, the self, and so on, rather than their own firsthand experiences of them, just as we normally talk about tables and chairs rather than our experiences of them. Mystical statements are no more about experiences than scientific statements are about sense experiences instead of planets and gravity.

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