November 16, 2012

McTaggart: atheistic mysticism; Nussbaum: philosophical humanism

Although McTaggart was an atheist from a very early age, he was certainly a religious person, at least on his own definition of “religion”. In chapter 1 of Some Dogmas of Religion, McTaggart defined “religion” as “an emotion that rests on a conviction of harmony between ourselves and the universe at large.” According to McTaggart, a necessary condition on judging that there is harmony between the universe at large and ourselves is that one judge that the universe is good on the whole (Some Dogmas of Religion, section 11)…
McTaggart was a mystic. McTaggart held that there are two essential characteristics of mysticism. (These two characteristics are articulated in his article “Mysticism”, which is reprinted in Philosophical Studies.) First, mysticism requires the recognition of a unity of the universe that is greater than that recognized by ordinary experience or by science. The universe might be highly unified without it being the case that the apparently numerically distinct parts of the universe are actually identical. According to McTaggart, Hegel believed in a mystic unity although he did not believe that this unity amounted to numerical identity. On McTaggart's interpretation, Hegel identified God as a community of finite spirits. McTaggart's own view was substantially the same, although he did not label the community of spirits “God”.
A second essential characteristic of mysticism is the view that it is possible to be conscious of this unity in a way different from that of ordinary discursive thought. We can be conscious of abstract truths or of spiritual reality directly in a matter akin to sense perception. McTaggart calls this consciousness “mystic intuition”, and that of which it is a recognition “mystic unity”. Mystic unity is more fundamental than mystic intuition. The existence of mystic intuition implies the existence of mystic unity, but the clearly the converse does not hold. The universe might be highly unified without anyone recognizing that it is so.
From a very early age, McTaggart had what he took to be mystical experiences. These experiences presented the world as being fundamentally unified by the relation of love. Reality as it appeared to him in these experiences consisted fundamentally of immaterial spirits who stand in the relation of love to one another. These experiences provided him with great comfort, but he believed that the fact that he had them did not provide others with a reason to believe in the unity he took them to reveal.[13] Philosophical argument was needed to supply others with a reason. Copyright © 2009 

In McTaggart's philosophy we find that a serious attempt is made to demonstrate the synthetic character of space and time as both subjective and objective. He calls them phenomena bene fundata in as much as they are not mere phenomena in Kant's sense of the term, but are such phenomena as correspond to some indisputable features of ultimate reality. Space is characterised by co-existence of a plurality of reciprocally exclusive parts and by infinite divisibility of these parts. Now, the features of co-existence, reciprocal exclusion, and infinite divisibility are ultimately real, because according to McTaggart reality consists of an impersonal unity of a plurality self-subsistent spiritual substances or selves, which are mutually exclusive in respect of their existence. The nature of each of these self-subsistent selves is infinitely divisible, the terms in the process of such division being perceptions of other selves and their perceptions. What is erroneous or illusory about space is its appearance as an attribute of matter or as locus of the existence of matter. McTaggart advances an array of close-knit arguments to demonstrate the unreality of matter...
It should be abundantly clear from the foregoing discussion that according to the Integral Idealism of Sri Aurobindo the fundamental reality of space-time is spiritual self-extension of ultimate reality. Reality is, in its original status and intrinsic nature, the spaceless and timeless Spirit. Space and time are the same Reality self-extended to contain the deployment of what is within it. Now, the self-extension of the infinite and eternal Spirit must be infinite and eternal too. So it may be said that the fundamental truth of space is the infinity of the Infinite, whereas the fundamental truth of time is the eternity of the Eternal…
While Bradley's conception of eternity as the transmuted essence of time is true of the Spirit in its self-absorption, Royce's view of eternity as a totum simul or as the whole-consciousness of an infinite succession is true of the Spirit in its cosmic universality or dynamic creativity, and the ordinary view of eternity as an endless march of time is true of the Spirit in its individual entanglement in the creative flux. 10:19 AM

Against Natural Theology by cjsmith Indistinct Union These are some scattered thoughts arising in relation to a paper I’m working on for a class in Process Theology.
Alfred North Whitehead godfather of Process Thought argued for a God within his overall cosmological system. Fairly unique contribution relative to modern era philosophers in that regard. So Process Thought is deeply imbued with a Natural Theological strain. 4:38 AM

Grundlegung A philosophy blog Philosophy as Bildung October 21, 2008
Nussbaum undertakes a forensic analysis of the details of Greek philosophy and tragedy which she brings to bear upon questions of moral luck, tragic conflict and practical deliberation. What makes the book so great as philosophy, rather than simply historical scholarship, is how it manages to draw so much sustenance from the literature it considers whilst putting its ideas to work in providing vivid ‘reminders’ and ‘objects of comparison’ (to resort to Wittgesteinian terminology) with which to illuminate our ethical lives. Its approach to literature is deeply philosophical; and conversely too, with its philosophical proclivities being similarly literary. This is another example of what I have been calling philosophical humanism: a confidence in the narratives we tell about ourselves and what matters to us.  5:09 PM 

No comments:

Post a Comment