Monday, November 27, 2006

I just had a think

this is rob, not molly. I just had a think while riding my bike home, and I need to write it down. David Loy in Nondualism distinguishes 3 kinds of nondualism. Making this distinction allows us to understand how Baird Callicott can be such an intensely rational guy, yet constantly assert things like "holism" and "postmodernism." Basically, he is a nondualist in the second, and maybe the third of Loy's senses, but not the first. It is essentially the first nondualism--basically, denying the principle of noncontradiction--that makes rationality in the traditional sense beloved of analytic philosophers impossible. Also, accepting the other two nondualisms but rejecting the first is what allows me to say that "distinguishing three kinds of nondualism" is a sensible, even enlightening, thing to do.

update: this will also save Callicott from the charge of quantum physics abuse. I hpe no one else has thought of this, because I want to develop it into at least a talk.


Thomas said...

Not having read either Callicott or Loy, still I can't help being a little curious – are any of these various "nondualisms" the same as regular old monism, such as we might find in William James, for example?

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Some are really just monisms and some aren't.

This is actually one of the advantages of analyzing the concept of nondualism. Most people when they read Asian thought, particularly Daoist or Zen thought, assume that what is being discussed must be something more mysterious, more deep, than anything produced by a Western, science-oriented philosopher. Sure you can draw comparisons to Meister Eckhart, but William James or Patty Churchland? Never. Sure these people are avowed monists of one sort or another, but they can't be like the wise Asian thinkers of yore.

But for some versions of dualism, the thesis really is the same. Certainly east and west are on the exact same page now when it comes to mind/body dualism. Really, the only kind of nondualism that don't see in the west outside of the mystic tradition is Loy's "Overcoming dualist thinking" which amounts to denying noncontradiction.

That said, I haven't read James on monism, and probably should for a couple of my current projects.