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The Spike [or Victoria University College Review 1961]

The Elimination of Mysticism

The Elimination of Mysticism

The proof is by Reductio Ad Absurdum. Suppose we wish to extend our logical philosophy to include mysticism. Suppose further that all men could be divided into two classes at any instant: the Mystics and the Logicians. To give meaning to this distinction, suppose that to the Mystics only mysticism is comprehensible, and to the Logicians only the world of reason is comprehensible, at any instant. Now the Logicians do not admit any such category of thought as mysticism, and the Mystics cannot form the division, as the act of division is a logical process (which, by hypothesis, they are not capable of).

Therefore no man can know which class he belongs in, which (unless one is prepared to invoke the existence of per se entities) means that no such division exists. That is, the original extension was unjustified.

The only interesting objection to this argument is that it is an argument: that is, in rejecting mysticism by a logical process, viz. an argument, we have simply begged the question. But this is nonsense, because the person proposing the objection is by hypothesis either a mystic or a logician: if he is a mystic his philosophy is inconsistent because he rejects the argument with a reason (begging the question) : if he is a logician, his philosophy is inconsistent, because he would not then have objected page 38 to our using a logical process. So to avoid being charged with inconsistency, the mystic can only maintain a pained silence, which of course suits the logicians down to the ground!

The manuscript becomes rather difficult to follow beyond this stage. There is an obscure reference to 'Man enlarging his ego to include the whole world', and another section, some parts of which are badly faded. . .

'Where do " we " come to an end — at our fingertips ? or at the fingertips of our children ? . . . or perhaps the boundaries of our personalities are purely a matter of definition ... but involving a restorative return to the primitive sources of Being...'

The Infra-Red Laboratory is at present trying to force a meaning out of these latter sections. Madame de S—— believes they refer to the blank walls which have no shadows.

So much for mysticism, so much for metaphysics, so much for God. Camera fades and pans to left, revealing Hemingway-type hero clutching whiskey bottle and Geometry textbook, and gazing in the direction of Mount Egmont.

Michael Heine