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The Truth Value of Mystical Experience

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Abstract:

Can mystics intuit something of what modern physicists calculate? And if so, how? The question of the relation between the classical mysticisms and modern science is approached in Part I in terms of the multiple forms and definitions of 'truth value'. Intuition/epiphany, pragmatism, coherence, and correspondence are considered as forms of truth that have also been proposed for unitive mystical experience. Since 'correspondence' or 'representation' has been the definition at the core of modern science, it in particular is approached by combining Lakoff and Johnson on the roots of all abstract knowledge in physical metaphor and Gibson on the ecological array of perception as the template from which such metaphors must be drawn. A series of similarities between the maximally inclusive metaphors underlying unitive mystical experience and cosmological physics, as abstracted from an ecological array already resonant with multiple levels of physical reality, suggests a basis for the correspondence between these otherwise distinct cognitive domains. Part II extends this approach to widely posited cross cultural values of spiritual or mystical realization, in terms of gratitude, compassion, faith, and inner freedom. When fully embodied as forms of personal conduct, these are also ultimately derivable from the openness and flow patternings of the ecological array itself. The possibility that the more abstract spiritual values of the major world mysticisms exemplify not only revelatory and pragmatic forms of truth, but are also broadly correspondent with both the principles of immediate concrete perception and modern physics, may eventually allow a contemporary re- formulation of the microcosm-macrocosm unities basic to traditional cultures.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, L2S 3A1., Email: hhunt@brocku.ca

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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