Saturday, April 30, 2005

Jung H. Lee on John Hick

A very interesting-- if typo-ridden*-- paper by a certain Jung H. Lee that critiques John Hick's pluralistic hypothesis from a Zen angle can be found here. The critique is consistent with my own imagined Zennist objections to Hick: I've argued that Zennists would complain that Hick's model includes a perforce ineffable, noumenal, an sich absolute reality, i.e., a reality that is completely unavailable to human experience/knowing. No Zennist can accept this.

Why? Because seeing with the "dharma eye" means seeing directly into the nature of reality. Such seeing is immediate, i.e., there's no medium, no subject-object metaphysics.

When you think about it, adherents of most if not all religious traditions would have a bone to pick with this aspect of Hick's model. Many Christians will grant that God is mystery, for example, but the Christian journey is one of entering into and communing with that mystery, not standing at an eternal remove from it.

Hick's model is quasi-Kantian in that it uses the language of noumenon and phenomenon, but it's also thematically Hindu, with parts of Hick's model corresponding to saguna brahman and nirguna brahman, i.e., absolute reality with qualities and without qualities. I'll have to study more about vedantic Hinduism because I'm not sure whether such Hindus believe nirguna brahman is available to human experience, or if the very label nirguna ("quality-less") implies its epistemological unavailability.

*The consistent and bizarre nature of some of the typos-- like replacing the letter "i" with the letter "f" in words-- leads me to believe this document was scanned into memory with the help of OCR (optical character recognition) software, then never looked at again. OCR is notoriously bad at rendering documents perfectly; someone should have taken the time simply to retype and proofread the original paper.


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