And I keep wondering why you assume that experience is self-authenticating. The act of experiencing isn't the same as that of understanding. We can understand what we haven't personally experienced, and we can experience what we don't at all understand.

I'm sure there's a peculiar experience of raw consciousness, as indicated by the world's mystical traditions. I had a peculiar, scarily real experience while high on cannabis, which I've written about. It's possible, however, to be fooled or bowled over by direct experience. Experience gives us know-how, but not theoretical understanding, and philosophy is largely about the latter.

Worst of all, experience can be a trap as in the case of trauma. Some things you've seen you may want to unsee, but it's too late. Perhaps the mystical experience is worth having because it makes you a better person than an egotist. But I don't think that having that experience is a substitute for thinking about the world or for trying to put all our knowledge together.

If we say that all thinking is delusion, we open ourselves to being exploited by fraudsters who exploit our capacity for mystification. This is why "mystical" has both descriptive and pejorative senses, because religious experience can be and has been abused and misinterpreted.

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store