Experience and ‘Surprise’
The wonder of dynamic spiritualism in every culture has constantly sought to resolve the difference between it’s various classes of group/perceptual/emotional tendencies , it’s collective tenet structures (theology) and the isolated experiences of it’s individual citizens. All of these matters are part of the documented human need for spiritual solidification – and the desire to better understand the fact of manifestation and physical universe ‘actualness’. Spiritualism in this context has sought to recognize and build ‘form/ritual states’ that take into account the historical ‘vibrational-foot prints’ of it’s people and from that information to translate and extend those experiences to provide a ‘bridge of documentation’ for a kind of unified structured ‘spiritual form’. It is because of this common need for religion that our species have constructed the various disciplines that now make up our understanding of the subject – still, it might also be important to remember that this genesis ‘human need’ for cosmic-solidification lies at the root of all questions about the unfolding of world-theologies: that is , the desire to erect formal structures proceeded from the belief that there is something more to ‘actual reality’ than a given physical plane emanation. From this most basic notion of cosmic-intuition the thrust of our species has expanded to create many different transcendent structures as a way to establish cosmic realization and ritual experience. This is a universal subject with ‘universal-balences’.
The question of whether religious experience, religious doctrine or religious theory is privileged is related to the ‘balance of tendencies’ that defines the argument – and the particulars of the question is framed inaccordance with the vibrational tendencies of the culture group that poses the question. In itself, this argument is a tri-centric argument that gives insight into the changing vibrational cycles of ‘apparent’ physical universe progressionalism . What this means is that we can better understand the specifics of a given religion by examining the position of it’s theology through the ‘effective’ time progression-scheme of it’s trans-cultural information base – because all of these matters are related to the wonder of cultural aesthetics ( and the spiritual/vibrational tendencies of a given cultural group as viewed through it’s ‘experience-specific’ concepts of ‘erected value systems’). Seen from the history of European spiritualism, the genesis arguments that defined ‘privilege’ in this context was set in the very early period and reaffirmed in the writings of St. Anselm . Privilege for Anselm was based on the importance of faith as the most basic condition to attain spiritual insight ( and spiritual union) and was in the end, an individual matter ( revelation) and the work of Thomas Oquinas would serve as a polarity philosophical position that stressed the importance of science ( form) and the rational constructs of Aristotle. Thus, even in the early period one can view the opening arguments on religious doctrine and the weight of individual experience. The heart of this argument seeks to understand the role of the church and the position of theology in the life of the culture. By the dawn of the modern era, theologian/scholars like Schleiermacher would seek to realign the church with the expanded changes taking place in restructural science and composite world knowledge. The key to understanding the atmosphere that defined transitional theology in the enlightment period is the growing awareness of composite world culture and the fact of multiple viewpoints and spiritual positions. It is one thing to have a viewpoint of genesis creation that applies to one set or group of people with the same tendencies, but when viewed from the position of world culture every viewpoint becomes simply an another approach that can be embraced or rejected. The challenge of establishing a spiritual position in the context of multiple world options changes the aesthetic dimensions of theology and it is in this context that the experiences of the individual take on a kind of new dimension. The challenge of religious theology in this context would be to penetrate into the extended domain of trans-individual experiences on it’s own plane – separate from the defined constructs of the classical religious positions ( or rituals). Every generation is faced with the challenge of establishing a viewpoint that is consistent with the information base of it’s time period. It is for this reason that theology must constantly be realigned and reexamined to stay relevant as a living discipline.
If the work of Schleiermacher and Bobel was concerned with the transitional complexities of the eightieth and ninetieth centuries, the writings of William James and Wayne Proudfoot are responding to the complexities of the encroaching twentieth century. In the case of James, we are looking at a philosopher/psychologist who functioned at the heart of twentieth century aesthetics. James, in effect, could be viewed as one of the restructural theologians who played a primary role in mapping the early parameters of modern day psychology. The challenge of his discipline ( on the plane of psychology as a separate discipline in itself that established it’s own ‘extensions’) could not be contained in any one world perspective- let alone the isolated parameters of one theology. James in effect was forced to consider the weight of individual experience as an axiomatic position to better understand the changing dynamics of his scientific discipline. This is a scholar who examined world spiritualism in a serious way – and his writings reveal a more profound understanding of composite spirituality, much more than Scheiermacher. The weight of James’ information base provides a backdrop to his attempt to redefine the spiritual/scientific-forms of the modern era. When he writes “so long as we deal with the cosmic and the general, we deal only with the symbols of reality , but as soon as we deal with private and personal phenomena as such, we deal with realities in the completest sense of the term”, James is signalling a profound realignment that has historical roots . This position is similar to Anselm’s writings in that the concept of experience for both men is the final test of whether or not one can have a religious experience. But in the case of James the state of expanding restructural psychology would not allow for a limited information base that defined an experience from only ‘local’ perspectives that proclaimed ‘source religious’ positions. His subsequent writings can be viewed as an attempt to gain insight into ‘the existential experience’ viewed with respect to the individual who ‘experienced it’. This is a trans-spritual approach not seeded in any one spiritual theology (focus). In taking this path James is extending the dynamic implications of Scheiermacher by re-centering the iconic and ritual-myth components of western spiritualism and reemphasizing instead a kind of spritual-pluralism . This is a viewpoint that seeks to reconnect with the past and the fact of direct experiences.
The thrust of William James writings establishes a concept of spiritualism that: 1) has no essence but rather establishes a range of experiences that hint of fresh correspondence relationships 2) is something that is pre-empirical and related to the sub-consciousness and 3) that the concept of belief-forming experiences is a category unto itself. It is from this point where the particulars of Jame’s work can be discussed. James writes that how personal experiences are perceived determines whether it has extended spiritual dynamics or not. For him it is a question of how those experiences are defined. By the term ‘range of experiences’ in this context, James is referring to the categories of direct individual experiences, psychological experiences, and the weight of individual experience. James writes that we cannot simply rule out spiritual experiences that fall outside of what is considered normal- or classical. Psychology for him is a tool to catalog a range of experience-types that can be used to further map human biology and human spiritualism. The question of whether or not one can have a religious experience in Jame’s viewpoint is a personal matter that is sutle and meditative. He writes that to listen to music can be a cosmic experience – that is, that the realness of cosmic revelation transcends any one context and is not separate from the state of mind of the ‘experiencer’. As a psychologist James also sought to introduce the significance of re-contextualization as an effort to better understand the narrative implications of a given experience. This approach is consistent with the challenges of his time period and the drive to establish a viewpoint of spiritualism equal to restructural science. As a psychologist James worked to create an inferential viewpoint that sought to look beneath the threshold of consciousness into the heart of the experience-encounter. For him, the phenomenon of experience is constructed by the imagination or by pre-disposition ( ‘the law of circumstances – ?’). James has taken this approach as a way to by pass mediating structures that lie outside of the sphere of what is being experienced. He work is an investigation into describable experiences and the pre conditions that brought on or led to it. James is not interested in speculative theory or extended abstractions as a way of understanding spiritualism or science. This is a pragmatic approach that rejects reductionism from the same perspective as Anselm. James is looking to understand the essence of a given experience based on the value systems of ‘the experiencer’.
That James’ work has a related psychological component should not be underestimated. Any attempt to understand his writings and it’s extended implications into parameters outside of classical religious fields of thought must take into account the expanded methodological correspondences of his research. The nature of his work cannot be viewed without understanding what the challenge of Sigmund Freud’s restructural theories posed to a new generation of scholars and scientist . James would extend his research-base to include the experiences of the mentally insane – as a legitimate zone of experience that has dynamic implications for composite spiritualism. The thrust of his work in this area would seek to better understand the role of value systems with respect what it says about the individual rather than to the origin of the phenomenon being experienced. In this context James reemphasizes the concept of value systems as the key to penetrate into the sub-conscious processes of the individual. From a psychological perspective he is looking for the demonstrated effect of positive intentions. James wants us to look for the best aspects of our experiences for motivation. He uses terms like ‘the heathy minded’ as a way to context primary psychological constructs for spiritual and psychological investigation. All of these matters point to a restructural viewpoint of spiritualism that re-centers the focus of religion outside of the domain of any one theology. This is a viewpoint of spiritualism that is consistent with the expanding scope of modern science and multi-reality.
The challenge of individual experience as the basis for understanding spiritual dynamics is a concept that has extended implications that transcends any one discipline. James details a viewpoint that recognizes multiple systemic strategies and interpenetrating reality-states . This is a universal viewpoint with extended implications. Just as Scheiermacher recognized the validity of different world religions (while in the end settling for a kind of uneasy truce with the classical church) James has extended this way of thinking into it most extreme position. When he writes of the phenomenon of ‘states’, he is in fact working to establish the preconditions for given psychological dispositions- this is a ‘mapping’ strategy approached from a tri-centric perspective rather than a two dimensional perspective. James seeks to recognize the ‘modes of human experiences’ to better understand productivity and human psychological balance from a context of ‘necessary connections’ that gives insight into the source-nature of human activity. An approach of this type could only succeed in a universal ‘experience-field’. For James to write that every experience is valid has a kind of psychological hue that reveals his scientific and spiritual curiosity.
The writings of Wayne Proudfoot in many ways can be viewed as a polarity viewpoint that balances the work of William James in the same way Thomas Oquinas’s writings recontexts the work of Anselm. Proudfoot recognizes the expanded dimensions of both Scheiermacher and James but seeks to re-install the practical certainty of empirical science as the bases for cognitive ‘experience’. The thrust of his viewpoint seeks to understand the rules of applications for extended theology. In this context Proudfoot writes of the ‘codes of religion’ as a way to better understand the proper application state to understand spiritualism and restructural science. Proudfoot is an empiricist who seeks to map the extended regions of spiritualism from outside of the classical constructs/mythologies of the early period. The thrust of his argument would establish three philosophical positions that directly relate to the work of Scheiermacher and James: that being, 1) that all experience is cognitive, 2) that experience contains unrelated baggage by virtue of pluralism, 3) that no aspect of experience is separate from beliefs and concepts. The heart of Proudfoot’s arguments is not separate from the accelerated achievements of scientific evolution and the separation of Religion and science ( empirical investigation). He writes of Religion as a social phenomenon that contains it’s own vibrational and historical baggage . This is a viewpoint that rejects the insular dialogues that make up religious theology because of the circular nature of their writings. For Proudfoot, Religion is something that can’t be analyzed except on the terms of it’s own self- and this is not good enough. The concept of pragmatism in this context is an attempt to remove the issue of verification from the religious experience. Proudfoot is looking for an explanation of religious experience that transcend the subjective experiences of the individual. It is at this point where the concept of reductionism offers an opportunity to apply scientific processes that can measured and expanded. Proudfoot writes that either one has a scientific explanation or you have nothing. As for the profound-spectra dynamics of Religion, Proudfoot looks at questions of infinity as a context of ‘place-holding’ that doesn’t refer to reality. In many ways his work seeks to override correspondence logics in the same way Bober philosophy erases the middle-connection that connects the individual to the community. The thrust of Proudfoot’s work seeks to flush out the language of causality as the platform for restructural scientific knowledge. His viewpoint represents a challenge to the extended philosophies of classical religion – in direct opposition to both Scheiermacher and James.