Logic Chopping or Mystical Union:
In what direction might Bahá'í-inspired philosophy of education go?

By Roger Prentice

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #48
Center for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 10–13, 2003
(see list of papers from #48)

    ".the core of religious faith is that mystic feeling which unites man with God.." LofG p.544

    Logic-chopping = to bandy words; to altercate. "Chop-logic" is dialectic banter in which confinement to particular meanings of words leads to ludicrousness." http://www.wsu.edu/~delahoyd/shakespeare/hamlet5.html

    Over recent years I have been developing, for a PhD, a Baha'i model of education called SunWALK. The question behind this presentation is this: "If we start to shape some possible characteristics of a Baha'i Philosophy of Education what part might the non-conceptual play."
    NB in the actual presentation I will deal mainly with Part II.

    PART I — Introductory context for model presented in Part II
    1 What might Baha'is want to include, or exclude, in a philosophy of education c.f. the wider community? Is philosophy only a matter of reason? Do Baha'i writings suggest a concept of heart & mind different to that which prevails in the West? If it is also a matter of that which is beyond reason, how & in what way might that be?

    2 The conceptual & the non-conceptual in a philosophy of education. Ontology, epistemology, aesthetics, language, logic, mind, political, ethics versus the ineffable? OR the same 8, viewed in the light of Spiritual/mystical relationship? Philosophy as it has been is necessary but not sufficient. Also necessary from a Baha'i point of view are a) that it relate to the perennial concerns of religion and philosophy, as opposed to being only ' knowing more & more about less and less', b) that it be situated in a theistic context, that includes the station of the Manifestation & His Revelation & His Writings. But how should we relate the conceptual & that which transcends the conceptual?

    3 The non-conceptual as 'being in relationship', as in Shoghi Effendi's 'mystic feeling which unites man with God'. What kind of unity is this? What is precluded? I suggest that we use the view of the mystical given by Hick, that mysticism is no more, and no less, than direct religious experience of, so I would say, the Whole or Mystery but excluding of course the pantheistic, and the idea of direct union with the Godhead. Ought the subjective be hallowed? (As well as the caring, the critical the creative and 'being in community?')

    4 The non-conceptual as non-dualistic experience being 'at-one-with' experience c.f. Christian 'at-one-ment.' Instead of the Christian notion of at-one-ment an alternative is suggested in 'the state of being at-one-with'. As an exercise in demystifying and de-rarefying the nature of the mystical it is suggested that experience of 'being at-one-with' is part of human nature, and therefore close to universal, as in the everyday, "It took me out of my self, or 'being lost in a good book' " It is the context in which life is lived that counts. Being at-one-with concerns intense experience involving loss of ego boundaries AND more importantly, it is suggested, it is one 'wing' in the central psycho-spiritual dynamic in being human we pay attention to parts, or live in experience of the Whole. The mystical and the philosophical are mutually validating, through shifts in consciousness & focus.

    PART II will consist of a model of 'relationship to the ineffable' as the necessary accompaniment of reason as a suggested basis for Baha'i educational philosophising & educational practice

this paper is not yet online