Mysticism & Symbolism (Was: Sheer blank-minded stupidity)

Date: Fri Nov 24 2000 - 07:34:23 MST

Being so far behind and out of sync in my correspondence, I won't try to
respond to specific posts here, but I would like to just comment on the
general subject matter. As a scientific rationalist, I strongly reject most
claims to TRUTH made by mystics. However, I think it would be a serious
mistake to conclude that there is no real value in studying or even "using"
much of the pre-scientific symbolic substrate we inherit in our cultural
patrimony. Having spent a good deal of time when I was younger reading Carl
Jung and also having read widely (but not deeply, in most instances)
regarding the various Western pre-Christian and Asian religious and mystical
traditions, I believe there IS much of value in understanding and even
"playing with" such ideas.

The human mind is a complex, evolved system. We evolved as emotional beings
and developed an array of genetically and memetically inherited heuristics to
deal with a complex world that did not come with a user's manual. Symbolic
systems that evolved in this milieu conveyed some survival value on the
humans that came to adopt them. Now, of course, any such system was heavily
context-dependent, so they can become counter-adaptive if the physical or
cultural environment changes faster than the systems themselves can evolve.
But elements of such systems that have persisted or independently evolved
across cultures are worth studying, both for what they teach us about our own
heritage and current nature and also for what they might reveal in terms of
real wisdom that may be highly independent of specific context.

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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