Reality and Mystical Experience

Reality and Mystical Experience

by F. Samuel Brainard

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Overview

Reality and Mystical Experience by F. Samuel Brainard

Responding to our modern disillusionment with any claims to absolute truth regarding morality or reality, this book offers a conceptual approach for discussing absolutes without denying either the relevance of divergent religious and philosophical teachings or the evidence supporting postmodern and poststructuralist critiques. Case studies of mysticism within Advaita-Vedānta Hinduism, Mādhyamika Buddhism, and Nicene Christianity demonstrate the value of this approach and offer many fresh insights into the metaphysical presuppositions of these religions as well as into the nature and value of mystical experience. Like Douglas Hofstadter's Gōdel, Escher, Bach, this book finds ultimate reality to be rationally graspable only as an eternal fugue of pattern and paradox. Yet it does not so much counter other philosophical views as provide a conceptual tool for understanding and classifying incommensurable views.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780271030210
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication date: 03/05/2008
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

F. Samuel Brainard received his doctorate in religion from Temple University. During his varied career he has taught religion at Temple and Rutgers-Camden, served as financial vice president of an electronics manufacturing firm, owned and operated a bookstore, and been involved with two nonprofit organizations, one focusing on holistic health and the other on interreligious understanding.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgmentsxi
1.Introduction1
1.1Overview1
1.2Strategy Considerations4
1.3Project Sources and Structure6
2.Publicity-Presence-Awareness Terminology11
2.1Summary of the Terminology11
2.2Publicity13
2.3Presence18
2.4Awareness21
2.4.1.Awarenesses Originate Publicity and Individuate Presence21
2.4.2Awareness, Inert Matter, and the Two Universes23
3.Implications of the Terminology for Discussing Reality27
3.1Reality and Truth27
3.1.1The Real as Publicity and Presence Taken Together27
3.1.2The True as the Publicity of Reality Taken by Itself or a Correspondence to That Publicity28
3.1.3Hermeneutics30
3.2Paradox31
3.2.1The Paradox of Presence31
3.2.2The Mutual Exclusion of Publicity and Presence35
3.3The Two Roles of Awareness38
3.3.1Conjunctive-Disjunctive Dualism38
3.3.2Logical Versus Efficient Cause40
3.3.3Human Identity's Relationship to Space and Time42
4.Mystical Experience49
4.1Introduction49
4.2Nominal Versus Real Definitions50
4.3"Mystical Experience" as a Coherent Linguistic Category52
4.4Nonordinariness and Profundity as Defining Parameters54
4.4.1Nonordinariness55
4.4.2Profundity57
4.5The Conventional, the Mystical, and Publicity-Presence-Awareness Terminology60
Three Case Studies
5.Buddhism and Madhyamika Mysticisim69
5.1Introduction69
5.2The Advent of a Metaphysics of Presence70
5.2.1The Buddha's Teaching on the Nature of Reality70
5.2.2Appropriation of the Buddha's Teachings75
5.2.3Nirvana84
5.3Metaphysical Difficulties in Early Buddhism91
5.3.1The Fracturing of Buddhist Orthodoxy Prior to Nagarjuna91
5.3.2The Problems of Presence as a Philosophical Foundation94
5.3.3Mahayana97
5.4Nagarjuna101
5.4.1The Madhyamika School of Buddhism101
5.4.2Nagarjuna's Dialectic103
5.4.3Sunyata107
5.4.4Nirvana and Samsara109
5.4.5The Two Truths: Samvrti Satya and Paramartha Satya111
5.5Conclusion115
6.Hinduism and Advaita-Vedanta Mysticism127
6.1Introduction127
6.2Hinduism's Metaphysics of Publicity129
6.2.1Hindu Orthodoxy and the Vedas129
6.2.2Brahman and Atman132
6.2.3Moksa139
6.3Metaphysical Difficulties in Early Hinduism144
6.3.1Different Views of the Absolute144
6.3.2Mimamsa147
6.3.3Haituka Schools151
6.3.4Vedanta155
6.4Sankara156
6.4.1Advaita-Vedanta156
6.4.2The Psychology of Advaita-Vedanta160
6.4.3Levels of Being165
6.4.4Maya167
6.4.5Moksa170
6.5Conclusion173
7.Christianity and Dionysian Mysticism185
7.1Introduction185
7.2Nicene Christianity's Orthodoxy of Dualism187
7.2.1The Human Soul187
7.2.2God Transcendent and God Incarnate193
7.2.3Christian Metaphysics and the Presence of God202
7.3Metaphysical Difficulties in Early Christianity210
7.3.1Christian Heresies210
7.3.2Internal Theological Conflicts213
7.3.3Some Theological Issues in the Western Church216
7.4Pseudo-Dionysius220
7.4.1Dionysian Mysticism220
7.4.2Kataphasis225
7.4.3Apophasis233
7.5Conclusion239
3.Reality and Mystery251
8.1Introduction251
8.2Reality and Conventional Awareness252
8.2.1Metaphysical Incommensurability252
8.2.2Metaphysical Ultimacy and Primordial Paradox254
8.2.3Toward a Metaphysics of Types256
8.3Reality and Mystical Awareness263
8.3.1Mystical Ultimacy263
8.3.2Mystical Variety265
8.4Publicity-Presence-Awareness Terminology as a Metaphysical Paradigm267
Glossary273
References275
Index285

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