mysterianism

25 Nov 2023 05:50 - 26 Nov 2023 07:57
Open in Logseq
    • The position that some things are simply inherently unknowable. The word seems mostly to be used in descriptions of certain varieties of philosophy of mind that hold that the nature of consciousness simply can't be grasped, that it is beyond the human mind to understand itself. I'm extending it to cover the idea of Weird Studies/Radical Mystery, an important aspect of the WS worldview.
    • My own training is rather anti-mysterian, especially about the mind. The MIT AI view of the mind is that it is perfectly explicable in theory, even if we don't have the right concepts and abstractions for it yet. I have my doubts about that, but I do have to say that it is a fresher and more interesting stance. The older view is shot through with the bad aspects of religion, it replaces inquiry with holy dread. The enlightened computational view is that we may not ever be able to know ourselves in some absolute sense, but we certainly have a lot of new ideas for how to know ourselves and we should keep trying.
    • Descriptive mysterianism

      • cognitive mysteriamism: if only because of the physical limits of our means of knowing (brains, etc), some aspects of the universe will always be unknowable. This seems uncontroversially true to me. I suppose some science types or positivists might disagree.
      • metaphysical mysterianism: Mystery is not merely an annoying gap in our knowledge, it is a fundamental fact of reality, baked into the foundations of Being.
        • Cognitive mysterianism is weaksauce in comparison, it implies there are always some fact of the matter, even if our puny brains can't know it. Under metaphysical mysterianism, not really. Hm, yes, this is actually more nihilistic and less theistic than the cognitive kind, surprisingly.
        • Chapman's nebulosity seems similar, he would not want to be accused of doing metaphysics but he is saying essentially this, that nebulosity is an inescapable fact of experience.
    • Normative mysterianism

      • sacral mysterianism: there is something sacred about mystery. Trying to explain mysteries is somehow immoral or at least rude and crude, independent of whether it is possible or not.
      • romantic mysterianism: this is very common in the WS-sphere. It stems from a feeling that the modern world is thoroughly disenchanted, by science, capitalism, rationalism, and a host of related trends; that this is terrible, soul-crushing and life-killing. Mystery represents a cure for this, it defies the machine by stating that some things (the most important things) will always exceed its grasp.
      • art mysterianism: Not just that there is mystery, but that the job of the artist is to explore the mystery, to act as a kind of guide to it for the good of all. Or something like that. It's a kind of shamanic thing. Includes sacrality, but focused more on the role of spiritual professionals.
    • Poets weigh in

    • Mysteries, Yes

    • by Mary Oliver (via WS)
    • Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood.
    • How grass can be nourishing in the mouths of the lambs. How rivers and stones are forever in allegiance with gravity while we ourselves dream of rising. How two hands touch and the bonds will never be broken. How people come, from delight or the scars of damage, to the comfort of a poem.
    • Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers.
    • Let me keep company always with those who say “Look!” and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads.
    • The Human Abstract

    • by William Blake
      I've wondered why the WS guys don't talk about Blake much, given that he's one of the loudest champions of Imagination in English literature. Maybe this is why? Blake is anticlerical and JFM is a weird kind of Catholic.
    • Pity would be no more, If we did not make somebody Poor: And Mercy no more could be, If all were as happy as we;
    • And mutual fear brings peace; Till the selfish loves increase. Then Cruelty knits a snare, And spreads his baits with care.
    • He sits down with holy fears, And waters the ground with tears: Then Humility takes its root Underneath his foot.
    • Soon spreads the dismal shade Of Mystery over his head; And the Caterpillar and Fly, Feed on the Mystery.
    • And it bears the fruit of Deceit, Ruddy and sweet to eat; And the Raven his nest has made In its thickest shade.
    • The Gods of the earth and sea, Sought thro' Nature to find this Tree But their search was all in vain: There grows one in the Human Brain