Since I believe that bad metaphysics is at the root of many modern problems, we (almost-) all need to examine our fundamental assumptions.

One assumption that I think is necessary for any metaphysical system which is not self-refuting (and despair inducing) is that it is possible for communications to be direct. And ‘communication’ includes divine communications, such as personal revelations.  
In other words, there must be some form of communication which by-passes the senses, and does not involve anything like language or symbols (or smells, touches, or tastes).

This is not something which can be proven by observation or experience; it is something which is a required assumption for there to be any possibility of real communication – otherwise all communication is compromised by the impossible-to-rule-out chance of errors, illusions, delusions, self-deception; the inevitability that all symbolic communication is partial and biased, and that all receivers of communications are likewise.


The assumption of direct communication is necessary because any communication which relies upon, say, words or pictures requires that these symbols be interpreted; and it is possible, indeed likely, that we will misinterpret them.

So the classic description of divine revelation of a religious visionary or mystic is missing the point if it is assumed that someone seeing pictures, or hearing spoken phrases, or reading a text, or remembering a dream was the essence of the revelation.

Instead, the essence of any true revelation must have been the wordless, un-envisioned impression (as Mormons call it) of a non-symbolic communication; and the words or pictures are merely serving the function of an aide memoir, a mnemonic, a convenient summary of that impression.


This means that more people are religious mystics in receipt of divine revelation than probably realize it, and that such communications are commoner than generally recognized – because most people are looking-for a vision, spoken words, a prophetic dream or some such thing.

It is, indeed, probable that many people will receive only the essence of the revelation – they will experience the pure or true ‘impression’ of the communication – but without any sensory or symbolic representation.

And this impression from a direct communication is not some kind of second-rate revelation but actually the unadulterated ‘real thing’!


Cross-posted at Bruce Charlton’s Notions.

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