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A Critique of Steven Katz's "Contextualism":

An Asian Perspective

Shigenori Nagatomo*

I. Introduction

This article is a critique of Steven Katz's "contextualist" position, developed in his celebrated essay, "Language, Epistemology, and Mysticism." In this essay, Katz contends that mystical experiences found in various religions of the world are different from one another because the cultural and social contexts in which they occur are all different. Specifically, he means that the Hindu Advaita V~danta's non-duality between 8tman and Brahman, the Dao-

ist Dao, Islam's fana, the Christian unio mystica, the Jewish

devekutb, and Bud-

dhist Nir~na are all different from one another. Methodologically, he reaches this conclusion by analyzing the language of mystical experiences used in reporting them. The philosophical reason Katz adduces in making this claim is that "there are nopure (i.e., unmediated) experiences" (Katz: 26), regardless of whether experiences are ordinary or mystical. This is the foundational assumption of his essay, and it is closely tied to his methodo- logical procedure of analyzing the language of mystical experiences from the point-of-view of epistemology. I am using the phrase "foundational assumption" here to mean that it supports Katz's conceptual scheme from below and that without this assumption his position collapses. HistoricaUy speaking, ICatz's contextualist position is advanced as a po- lemical response to the contention of such perennial philosophers as Wil- liam James, Aldous Huxley, and Walter Stace. Their position was that there is a "universal core" in mystical experiences across the various religious tra-

*Associate Professor of Religion, Temple University. Email:

Dao: A Journal of Compara#ve PhilosophyJune 2002, Vol. I,

N o. 2, pp. 185-207.

9 Global Publications, State University of New York at Binghamton.

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ditions of the world. In other words, they expressed their standpoint by appealing to the idea of a "universal core," that a "phenomenological to- pology" of mystical experiences can be erected among the various religious experiences of the world. The idea of a "universal core" is advanced, based on the distinction between "particular" and "universal," by relying on the discriminatory ego-consciousness. What they had concretely in mind when speaking of a "universal core" was that in mystical experiences there are found such ideas as passivity, noetic quality, ineffability, and paradoxicality. In this essay, I would like to offer my critique of ICatz's "contextualist" position by arguing that his position is unintelligible when it is seen as an explanatory model for religious or mystical experiences. Katz gives various conceptually defining features as to what he considers to constitute "con- text," but a closer examination of his characterizations shows that his con- ceptual scheme fails on its own logical grounds. It suffers from the incon- sistency and incoherence of both "either-or" logic and the methodology he employs. This is primarily due to his tacit practice of alternating between two incompatible methodological stances. My critique focuses on an ex- amination of a few concepts Katz invokes in characterizing "context." What methodologically guides my critique is the Asian practice of medita- tional self-cultivation and the experiences that arise from this practice. I approach Katz's position from this stance because meditational self- cultivation, as Katz is also aware, forms the foundations of Asian religious traditions. Here, I must add a proviso that my claim be understood only insofar as Katz's thesis applies to the religious experiences thematized in the Asian traditions and these traditions alone.

II. Katz's Concepts of Context, Forms of Consciousness, and Causa- tion

Since his position is called "contextualism," it is ftrst necessary to have a clear idea of what he means by "context," and so I will briefly summarize his concept. According to Katz, a mystic-to-be is placed in "a particular linguistic, social, historical, and conceptual" context (29)) wherein he or she undergoes a "pre-experienfial conditioning" process (35) as part of his or her acculturation and socialization processes (33). In these processes, the "socio-historical and religious ideological 'conditions' are instilled in the mystic-to-be" (57). The mystic-to-be then becomes "conditioned" by "pre- experiential configurative element[s]" that function as the "formative pre-

1All quotes from and referencesto Katz 1978 in this article thereafterare indicatedby page numbers only.

Nagatomo: A Critique of Katz's '~Sontextuah'smt"


experiential elements" (34--35). Consequently, as Katz informs us, the mys- tic-to-be finds herself or himself in or with a "pre-mystical consciousness" (27) or "pre-conditioned consciousness" (36). Here I take Katz to be saying that this conditioning process is empirical or experiential in nature rather than rational or logically transcendental. Since he thematizes the "forms of consciousness" in connection with the "conditioning process," we need to briefly examine his concept of the "forms of consciousness." Since Katz alleges that "forms of consciousness" are involved in the process of "conditioning," I would like to bring the reader's attention to the fact that Katz moves from an empirical or experi- ential interpretation toward a transcendental interpretation when character- izing the "forms of consciousness." For example, he states:

the/brms of consciousness which the mystic brings to experience set structured

and limitingparameters

on what the experience will be, ke., on what will be ex-

perienced, and rule out in advance what is "inexperienceable"in the particular

given, concrete context.

(26-7; emphasis added)

If we look at the next quote while keeping in mind the statement that "the forms of consciousness set structured and limiting parameters on experi- ences," we learn that Katz takes the "forms of consciousness" to be tran- scendental in nature:

This description of the epistemic activity,even the epistemic activityinvolved in

mystical experience, of course requires what in the Kantian idiom, though not in Kant's own manner, would be called a "transcendental deduction"; i.e. an argu- ment which reveals both conditions of knowing in general as well as the grounds of its own operation and which is thematized according to specific pos-

sibilities--and this seems both

appropriate and necessary. (59)

If "'forms" are transcendental in nature, as is clear by his use of the phrase "transcendental deduction," it implies that the differences he wants to claim with respect to mystical experiences of the various traditions turn out to be merely apparent differences, but not real differences, because if "forms of consciousness" are transcendentally determined, all mystical experiences will fall into the same transcendental category of forms. Moreover, it is clear that his transcendental-turn is incompatible with his understanding of "con- text" which we earlier learned to be empirical or experiential in nature. This inconsistency becomes even more evident when we examine Katz's accep- tance of "causality" in characterizing "context." Katz remarks that there is % clear causal connection before, during and after the experience" (27). When we examine this statement from a methodological standpoint, we learn that his appeal to "causality" is an ap- peal to empiricism that is opposed to the transcendental approach. This

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Journal of Comparative Philosophy

introduction of causality involves a serious problem in understanding mys- tical experiences as well as in sustaining Katz's thesis consistently and co- herently. Let me explain. Causality was proposed in empirical, natural sciences to explain physical phenomena that occur independently of an experiencer. However, as Katz wants to apply causality to mystical experiences, he is maintaining that mystical experiences are physical in nature, no different, for example, from the movement of the sun. Or put differently, he is taking mystical experiences to be objective in nature in contrast to the subjectivity of an experiencer. This discloses that Katz's stance is that of an on-looker, i.e., he is examining mystical experiences from the outside. Moreover, since causality stipulates a necessary condition between cause and effect, it is conceived to be deterministic in nature. This also means that causality oper- ates on the mechanistic action-reaction model. However, none of these characteristics that are part and parcel of the theory of causation is applicable to so-called mystical experiences. To be specific, mystical experiences are not merely physical or mechanistic in na- ture. Nor do they occur deterministically. More importantly, they do not occur independently of an experiencer. Furthermore, if mystical experiences are physical in nature, as Katz seems to claim that they are, they should, in principle, be verifiable or quantifiable according to the methods of empiri- cal, natural science. However, Katz unequivocally states that mystical ex- periences are not verifiable (22). Here, we also witness a lack of coherence in Katz's conceptual scheme. To see further implications of Katz's characterization of mystical ex- periences as causal in nature, let us consider a well-known experiment con- ducted by Pavlov. In so doing, we will notice further problems in Katz's position. Pavlov conducted an experiment to condition a dog to salivate upon heating the sound of a bell. The conditioning that is established in this case is between the physiological function of a dog's salivation and the sensory perception of the hearing of a bell. In this experiment, there is nothing "mystical," let alone "spiritual," about the conditioning process. Therefore, it is clear that by introducing "causality" into his concept of "context" Katz is committing, to use Ryle's terminology, a "category mis- take." Moreover, his introduction of "causality" reveals another methodo- logical inconsistency in Katz's conceptual scheme. Causality, as an explana- tory model for how mystical experiences occur, is incompatible with the transcendentalized approach to understanding the "forms of conscious- ness." This is because if mystical experiences are physical in nature, he can- not thematize nor explain mystical experiences by appealing to the "forms of consciousness" that are not physical in nature. Moreover, if the theory of

Nagatomo: A Critique of Katz's '~Sontextualismt"


causation is applicable to all mystical experiences regardless of where they occur, it means that the differences Katz wants to claim regarding these experiences are merely apparent differences, because all of them can be ex- plained, in principle, as following the theory of causation. This creates a peculiar situation for someone making a "plea for differences." The above analyses show that there is a confusion of methodological stances in Katz's conceptual scheme. Even if this is not the case, he falls into materialist reductionism, according to which consciousness or mystical experience is an epiphenomenon. This is tantamount to claiming that there are no such things as mystical experiences. When I ponder why he has fallen into these problems, it seems that Katz has not paid sufficient attention to the "mind-body" problem in ad- dressing the "subject-matter." When he thematizes mystical experiences, he does not, for example, bring into the scope of his investigation an inquiry into the physiological and psychological aspects of the live body that lead to mystical experiences. Nor does he take into account the unconscious. This is necessary because the processes leading to mystical experiences involve both the mind and the body. The inquiry into mysticism cannot be com- plete just by analyzing the language and epistemology of mystical experi- ences. In other words, mystical experiences cannot be adequately under- stood by relying simply on speculative reason. The truth of the matter, however, is that authentic mystical experi- ences are neither of the body nor of the mind as they are understood from the everyday standpoint because they are experiences that transcend both the mind and the body of the everyday dimension. Therefore, they cannot be explained by appealing to materialist reductionism or to logical transcen- dentalism. Yet, Katz is vehement about denying the transcendence from "the conditioned" to the "non-conditioned," and from the "context" to the "non-context," because if he accepts this transcendence, it leads to a nega- tion of his own foundational assumption that "there are no pure experi- ences" (57). Nevertheless, as his use of the phrase "transcendental deduc- tion" shows, he accepts a transcendence by means of"reason." Accordingly it suggests that he accepts the "purity" of reason. This shows that Katz re- lies on speculative reason to guide his inquiry. By extension he claims that reason can escape the conditioning of context. However, the study of mys- tical experiences would be more accurately served by an investigation into the acupuncture meridians that are correlated with Yoga's cakras, because these Asian traditions, contra speculative reason, address body-mind corre- lativity. In the context in which ICatz denies the transcendence from "the con- ditioned" to the "non-conditioned," and from the "context" to the "non- context," he offers what seems to be an unintelligible explanation. He states

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that the process leading the mystic-to-be to a mystical experience is a "re- conditioning" process rather than the "un" or "de" conditioning process (57). This point is unintelligible, for the logic of conditioning requires that in order for a "re-conditioning" to occur, that which is conditioned must ftrst be either "un-" or "de-conditioned." However, it will be recalled that in Katz's conceptual scheme, the mystic-to-be is already endowed with a "conditioned-contextual consciousness." Given this observation, it is not clear what it is that is to be "re-conditioned."

III. Katz's Denial of the Givens and his Adaptation of the "Intention- ality-Thesis"

As a way of buttressing his foundational assumption that there are no pure (i.e., unmediated) experiences, and thereby to reinforce his contextualist

thesis, Katz denies the idea of what he takes to be "the givens" such as "the real" and "suchness," and accepts instead the phenomenologist's "inten- tionality-thesis." In his denial of the givens, he points out that the phe-

nomenologists' "givens

differ significantly"

(59), which means that there

.... is no uniformity. In this denial, we can also sense his tacit denial of the "universal core" that the perennial philosophers advocated. Instead, Katz proposes a "constructionist's stance" within his concept of "context." This "constructionist's stance" means that the mystic-to-be actively forms the content of his or her experience by means of language. In this connection, we must note, however, that this "constructionist's stance" directly collides with Katz's interpretation of the "forms of consciousness" as transcenden- tally constituted. Otherwise, the "constructionist's stance" comes to be in- terpreted as transcendentally determined, and if this is the case, this would mean that the constructive activity is a delusion for those who assume this stance. In the case of phenomenology, it is a mind-act, 1.e., a noetic act, which

gives directionality to consciousness, but in Katz it is the language that en- dows an experience with the directionality of consciousness. Katz calls this "finguistic intentionality," and this leads to a linguisuc determinism (63). To put it simply, linguistic determinism states that there xs no experience unless

there is a language

for it. As an argument against this msition, it is possible

to retort that there is no language unless there is experience. Since this point is important in considering the non-dualistic experience thematized in the Asian traditions, I will deal with it shortly. At any rate, Katz's observation is correct when he points out that the phenomenologists failed to provide the uniform "givens" through their phenomenological intuitions. Their failure is not unrelated to the fact that

Nagatomo: A Critique of Katz's '~.ontextuah'smt"


the phenomenologists attempted to reach "the given" by methodologically relying on a logical procedure. Moreover, since the phenomenologists are not people who have purified their mind-body complex by going through the practice of meditational self-cultivation, when they perform "phenome- nological reductions," they rely on "free fancy" that is closely tied to imagi- nation. Thus, their "givens" are not uniform because depth-psychologically speaking, the exercise of "free fancy" is a method that appeals only to the personal unconscious. This is not an appropriate procedure to discover what "the givens" are. This becomes even more evident when we look at various meditative states that are thematized in the Asian religious- philosophical traditions. Now we need to look at this point a little more closely. I mentioned earlier that Katz incorporates the phenomenologists' intentionality-thesis to explain how experience occurs. The phenomenologist's intentionality-thesis is advanced by using the "active-passive" function of consciousness as an explanatory model, and by relying on either-or logic, it singles out the active function of consciousness. For example, the meaning-bestowing activity that is said to function in the intentionality-thesis is modeled after the active function of consciousness. This means that we must question if Katz's "lin- guistic intentionality" is at work in the meditation states of the Asian reli- gious traditions. In order to determine whether or not Katz's "linguistic intentionality" is operative in these meditation states, it is sufficient to consider various

experiences such as Hindu nirvikalpa~amSdhi, Buddhist nirodhasamSpatti, and

Yoga's dttavrttinirodha. Here, I will take as an example the Buddhist medita- tive state known as "no-thing existing" (dki~ca~a-dyatana) that is placed as the seventh stage in the nine-stage scheme of Pali Buddhism. I use this state as an example because Katz also makes reference to it. In this nine-stage meditation scheme, before a meditator reaches this stage, it is said that nama-rapa is discarded. Nama-rapa generally designates the linguistic activity which gives rise to a belief that there exists a material world. Therefore, it is evident that when nama-rapa is discarded in the meditative state of "nothing existing," Katz's "linguistic intenfionality" is not operative. Moreover, there is no room for "free fancy" to be active in this meditation state. Needless to say, there is no activity of the mind that performs the phenomenological reductions that are guided by the inferential method of reasoning. We can also cite many other examples to demonstrate this point: e.g., a passage from the Dao DeJing that reads: "In order to achieve Dao, one must lose day by day" (ch. 48) or Zhuang Zi's "forgetting through sitting" (Zhaungzi:

ch. 6; in Chan: 201), or D6gen's "forgetting the self" (Dogen: 63). Generally speaking, deep meditation states that are thematized in the Asian religious traditions are non-dualistic in nature, even though there is a difference in

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degree to these experiences. Consequently, it will be counterproductive and futile to engage Katz's "linguistic intentionality," when one is trying to achieve a non-dualistic state. This is because if the linguistic intentionality is operative, it will create a dualistic framework that a meditator must learn to go beyond. Therefore, the non-dualistic experience cannot be explained by appealing to the explanatory model based on the active-passive function of consciousness. Eastern "mystics" are not unaware of the problematic that concerns Katz. They realize that subtle meditational states may be contami- nated by our personal and cultural context. Many so-called mystics are not as naive as Katz imagines. From a broader methodological point of view, Katz's incorporation of the phenomenologist's "intentionality-thesis" moves him toward accepting transcendental idealism, without abandoning his empiricism as witnessed in his proposal to understand "context" as causal in nature. This shows a lack of consistency in his conceptual scheme. As a result of this move, his idea of "linguistic-intentionality" shows an incompatibility with his acceptance of causation. This is because the theory of causation, as we have seen in the foregoing, is formulated as an empirical law. For example, if causal deter- minism is operative in the process leading to a mystical experience, as Katz seems to maintain, it will be an illusion or a delusion to say that linguistic intentionality is operative in this process. Historically, Kant also received a similar criticism. Kant thought that phenomena follow empirical laws, while noumena do not, but this was criticized as an ad hoc explanation.

VI. Katz's "Logical-Philosophical Problems"

In order to advance his contextualism, Katz examines the issue of "logical- philosophical problems." This examination is centered on his observation that the terms, the phrases, or descriptions used in reporting mystical ex- periences cannot be taken out of the context in which they occur. If they are taken out of context, Katz claims, the comparability of the terms, phrases, or descriptions is severed, because they have meaning relative to some ontological structure in which they occur. With this point in mind, let us observe the following:

[i]t becomes apparent on

reflection that different metaphysical entities can be

"described" by the same phrases if these

phrases are indefinite enough,

as are

the very general descriptive phrases used in our phenomenological lists. While

appearing to delineate quite

concrete phenomena these lists do lack the power

to provide definite desMptians of any specific discrete phenomena; neither the claimed universal, common mysticalexperience nor anything else. (51; emphasis added)

Nagatomo:A Critique of Katz's "Contextuah'smt"


The "a~'fferent metaphysical entities," to which Katz alludes in this passage, refer to such experiences as the Daoist Dao, Buddhist nirt~na, the Nature Mystic's Nature, and the Upani.sad's "Sat." In the above quote Katz makes an observation that these "metaphysical entities" are too indefinite to be qualified as "definite" descriptions, and for this reason, he says, they fail to "delineate quite concrete phenomena." In fact, the attributes of these enti- ties, Katz maintains, are so encompassing that any one of them can be ex- changed with any other, without, however, the power to "delineate any spe- cific phenomena"(51). Consequently, they become indistinguishable from one another and therefore it becomes impossible, according to Katz, to judge whether there are universal common features in them or not (see 51). This is how Katz frames his "logical-philosophical problems" and his ar- guments are supported by the presupposition that the language used in re- porting mystical experiences has meaning "relative to some ontological structure." What is meant by "ontological structure" here refers to a linguis- tically contextualized context. If the languages of mystical experiences cannot be compared, there is no way, methodologically speaking, to erect a "phenomenological topoi- ogy" of various mystical experiences. Hence, it follows that the perennial philosophers' project is untenable, because they want to maintain that there *s a "universal core," and on this basis they believe that it is possible to con- struct a "phenomenological topology" of mystical experiences across the different religious traditions. Behind Katz's contention that terms, phrases, and descriptions cannot be taken out of the context in which they occur is his insistence that they carry a literalmeaning. With this rough summary of what Katz considers the "logical- philosophical problems" in order, now I would like to examine his charge against the perennial philosophers' position. When Katz speaks of "con- text," it is prudent to make a distinction between experiential context and linguistic context. I will call the former "context 1" and the latter "context 2." His characterization of "context" in terms of "conditioning" refers to experiential context, whereas his thematizaton of mystical experiences by appealing to "language and epistemology" refers to linguistic context. Here I am using the term "linguistic context" to mean a context in which an event of mystical experience is captured through the mech'ation of the lan- guage. When Katz criticizes the perennial philosophy, he analyzes primarily the linguistic context, while disregarding the experiential context. This shows that he believes that there is no gap between them. This belief is sup~ ported, needless to say, by another belief that terms, phrases, and descrip-

tions have literalmearfmgs.

Although this kind of belief appears to be derived from the linguistic activity of our everyday experience to denote a physical object, we need to

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question if it is also applicable to such extraordinary experiences as mystical experiences. When a mystic has a mystical experience, she or he under- stands an experiential meaning, and when it is linguistically articulated, it becomes a "language of the mystical experience." In this sense, only the first-person perspective has access to the literal meaning of the language-of

the mystical experience. However, since Katz ignores the gap between the experiential context and the linguistic context, his analysis is performed as if he can assume the first person perspective. This is a delusion on the part of Katz, for he is not aware that an analysis of the language of the mystical ex- perience from the third person perspective is simply an analysis of the lan- guage about the mystical experience. Generally speaking, when we read a text of mysticism, we approach the "language 0fmystical experience" only as the "language-about the mystical experience." To put it differently, what we encounter in reading the texts of mysticism is the language about the mystical experiences, but not the language of the mystical experiences. Con- sequently, Katz's demand for the language of mystical experiences to carry a literal meaning is an insistence that the language about mystical experiences


treated as




the language of mystical experiences. It

should be

pointed out that the ontological structure that is constructed through this process is separate from the experiential context, and it receives various delimitations by the linguistic context. For example, an ontological structure would be delimited by the dualistic subject-predicate structure. When we examine Katz's demand that there is no gap between the lin- guistic context and experiential context, the following consequences are entailed. First, we need to recognize that his adaptation of linguistic deter- minism is endorsed by this demand, and this is clear especially when it is considered in light of his "linguistic intentionality." Here I would like to bring the reader's attention to the fact that he falls into linguistic reduction- ism by closing the gap between linguistic context and experiential context. However, since experiential context and linguistic context are not the same, Katz's move here leads to an absurd position. To illustrate this absurdity, consider the following example. Suppose that person A reads a manual on how to play basketball, and that he or she comes to understand how the game is played. Now further suppose that person B comes to understand how basketball is played through diligent practice. When we compare A and B, no one would claim that their under- standings are the same, since person A has a cognitive or intellectual under- standing of how to play the game, while person B acquires a practical expe- riential understanding. Katz's insistence that there is no gap between the experiential context and linguistic context may hold when there is a consensus gentium regarding a topic thematized. However, there is no, or virtually no, consensus gentium between mystical experiences and everyday experiences.

Nagatomo:A Critique of Katz's 'Wontextua$smt"


This is because mystical experiences are extraordinary experiences that can- not be had as long as one's epistemological stance is anchored in everyday ego-consciousness. To put it simply, ordinary language is appropriate to express everyday experience, but it is inappropriate to express extraordinary experiences.

V. Katz on Metaphysical Entides

In order to philosophically examine this point further, I will deal with the following issue: whether or not the Daoist Dao, Buddhist, the Na- ture-mystic's Nature, and the Upanisad's "Sat" are "metaphysical entities" as Katz seems to think they are. The idea of entity arises only within the subject-predicate structure of a language that is aided by the subject-object epistemological structure. Moreover, it is to be noted that both the subject- predicate linguistic structure and the subject-object epistemological struc- ture are dualistic in construction. However, none of the meditation experi- ences mentioned above occurs in these dualistic structures, for they are all non-dualistic experiences. In other words, a proper understanding of the nature of non-dualistic experiences cannot emerge from these dualistic structures. Seen in this manner, it becomes clear that Katz's stance of ignor- ing the gap between experiential context and linguistic context, as I pointed out in the foregoing, is a reduction of the experiential context to the linguis- tic context. This reductionism, when it is seen epistemologically, expresses Katz's belief that it is possible to fully understand extraordinary experiences like mystical experiences from the standpoint of ego-consciousness. How- ever, I must point out that this belief is an instance of philosophical ego- inflation. Katz wants to argue that since Hindu ~tman-Brahman non-duality, Buddhist nine.ha, and the Daoist da0 have different "ontological" structures, they cannot meaningfully be compared. This example seems to be different from the Buber-Kafka argument he advances in order to demonstrate his point, because these experiences already belong to the same domain of dis- course, i.e., the context of the religious experiences of the Eastern traditions. An important question here is whether or not the experiences represented by Hindu atman-Brahman non-duality, Buddhist, and the Daoist da0 are "ontological" in nature, given the fact that all three share in their "onto- logical" structure a non-dualistic experience in varying degrees. While keep- ing this question in mind, let us proceed to see what further arguments Katz mounts in order to make his claim. For this purpose, the following passage is illustrative:

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One could express this position regarding the claims and consequences of the claims relative to the mystical experience thus: 'Every mystical experience x is P and I, where P = paradoxical and ineffable and I = ineffable, thus 'any state- ment regarding the internal character of x will be paradoxical and ineffable'. Given this position, one has no reasonable grounds for making the assertion

that any two mystical experiences x are the same. That is to say: in Case (i), 'x is PI' could logically refer to an experience containing attributes or elements a, b,




while Case (ii), 'x is PI' could logically refer to an experience containing at-

tributes or elements d, e, f. And the same

in additional case, i.e. Case ('fii), 'x is

PI' could logically refer to an experience containing attributes or elements g, h, k, and so on. As there is no way to get behind the expression 'x is PI' in each

respective case, this in fact being the logical force of the expression 'x is PI', there is no way to evaluate Cases (i), (ii), (tii) in order to ascertain whether they are the same--even if they were the same. (Katz: 55)

This seems to be an impressive as well as a persuasive argument. However, once we analyze it, we may learn that this is not so. Analyzability of x I into the attributes a, b, c, and x 2 into d, e, f and so forth, presupposes a stance which recognizes an essence or substance of x I and x2; otherwise the con- cept of "attribute" or "element" is vacuous; or alternatively, the concept of substance or essence is meaningless without its accompanying "attributes" or "elements." Moreover, the concept of "essence" or "substance" is ei- ther-or ego-logically possible if and only if one maintains the idea of "iden- tity" or "sameness" as its logical foundation. However, this is precisely the stance that Katz wishes to refute in the "logical" foundations of his thesis; he wants to claim "differences" among various religious traditions, and based on this logical foundation, Katz has formulated the above argument. 2 Therefore, we must question the force of his argument and its persuasive power as presented in this argument. At least, we can charge him with in- consistency, if we use the either-or ego-logical scheme as the standard for making a judgment. For example, he charges Stace for maintaining the idea of sameness, while at the same time he utilizes it to demonstrate that the idea of "identity" or "sameness" does not hold true. Up to this point, we may think that Katz appeals to a N~g~rjuna-like method of argumentation because he relies on the use of the universal, the category that is acceptable

2 This implies that the dispute that exists between the perennial philosopher and Katz repre- sents two extreme sides of "the same coin," insofar as both deem the either-or ego-logical stance to be the parameter to make a philosophical judgment or to claim truth. I use the adjective "extreme" here to indicate that it is a consequence of segmentation, polarization, and bifurcation of the whole. If one assumes this methodological stance, it yields a one-sided picture of the whole, in the present case, in understanding the nature of religious experience. It results in highlighting one side of the whole, while suppressing the other side. One must question if this is a proper attitude to assume in investigating anything, including the nature of religious experiences.

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! 97

to the perennial philosopher but not to Katz. What crucially differentiates Katz from N~rjuna in this context is, however, that by rejecting the idea of sameness, Katz in turn emphasizes the idea of difference, i.e., each con- text wherein "mystical" experience occurs is different from others. This

shows that in spite of his remarkable endeavor he is deeply steeped in an essentialistic or substantialistic ontology, for the idea of difference has a meaning only when it is opposed to, and juxtaposed with, the idea of same-

ness. 3 However, N~gS_rjuna showed in his K~ri/ea that neither can

stand on

its own, independently of the other, while Katz's argument creates an illu- sion that it can. This shows that the mode of thinking that guides Katz's analysis of mystical experiences is an oppositional thinking. It is intertwined with his em- phasis on a particular type of epistemology, which is possible only when the subject as the knower is opposed to the object as known, i.e., when there is a dualistic relationship between them. They are distanced from each other, because the subject objectifies the object in order for the subject to know the object. Without this distance, no objectification can occur. If one applies

the either-or ego-logical scheme to this objectification, an ego-based dual- ism inevitably surfaces, though, cloaked in the garment of "rational" under- standing. Rationality in this connection turns into "unlimited freedom of self-assertion" (Dodds: 191). Unless one abandons this kind of oppositional thinking, it is hopeless even to envision an understanding of religious ex- periences that are non-dualistic in nature. This will have implications for how to understand "ontology," which Katz brings out in understanding the nature of the Eastern concept of "nothingness." As long as one accepts either-or ego-logic as the standard for making a truth-claim, it is possible to maintain and emphasize just the differences as Katz does in his piece. Suppose, however, the differences he wants to em- phasize among various mystical experiences are utterly different from one another. There would be no grounds for him to even assert that mystical experience x is different from mystical experience y. Otherwise, it would be either-or logically impossible to make sense of what his "plea for the recog- nition of differences" is. The intelligibility of the either-or ego-logical scheme stipulates that difference and sameness presuppose each other, as I pointed out in the previous passage. This implies that in its logical founda- tion, Katz's contextualist thesis is double-sided or Katz has two minds

3 It is curious why Katz does not resort to Wittgenstein's theory of "family resemblance," because as much as he approvingly quotes Wittgenstein, he does not invoke this theory. If he had appealed to this concept, he could have avoided the various conflicts such as those between "universal" and "particular," "form" and "matter," and "substance" and "attrib- ute," all of which arise in Katz's earnest refutation of Stace's position.

  • 198 Dao: A Journa/ of Comparative Philosophy

about the issue in spite of himself: in order for him to claim a difference using the either-or logical scheme, he must assume sameness, while at the same time suppressing it. In other words, the "differences" can be so claimed only if they are understood as differences qua sameness, and they can be so brought out only by prioriti~ng the difference over the sameness. This is because the either-or ego-logical scheme champions one-sidedness as the authority in making a philosophical judgment or a truth claim. Ac- cording to C. G. Jung, being one-sided is a sign of "barbarianism" 0ung:

85). This is evident when Katz attempts to refute Stace's perennial philoso- phy position by singling out, for example, "paradoxicality" and "ineffabil- ity" out of a total context.

VI. A Hermeneutical Circle

As Katz sees it, the connection that we as "a unitary consciousness" make between the problem and its solution owes to "our consciousness as a con- scious agent," because it performs the task "through forms of connection, synthesis, and objectivity which are integral to our consdousness as consdous agents of the sort we are" (62; emphases added). Katz expands this under- standing of consciousness to the "mystical modality" wherein "the synthetic function of the self-consciousness," he declares, is "the grounds" for all experiences, including the mystical ones. Wimess the following passage:

Indeed, it appears that the different states of experience which go by the name of, devekuth, fana, etc., are not the ground but the outcome of the complex epistemologicalactivity which is set in motion by the integrating char- acter of self-consciousness employedin the specificallymystical modality. These synthetic operations of the mind are in fact the fundamental conditions under which, and under which alone, mysticalexperience, as all experience, takes place. These constructive conditions of consciousness produce the grounds on which mysticalexperience is possible at all. (62-3)

It is surprising to read that in the state of nindna, Katz thinks, there is "self- consciousness" at work employed in "the specifically mystical modality," for "self-consciousness" or alternatively "ego-consciousness," as I under- stand the term, is the consciousness which is associated with the ordinary, commonsensical standpoint, as in Descartes' ego cogito. If there is "self- consciousness" at work in "the specifically mystical modality," there cannot be the state of nirvana, for nir~na can be achieved only when the state of meditation passes beyond the confines of both the mind and the body as they operate in the ordinary, commonsensical manner. It appears that in ICatz's mind, there is no distinction between the state of the ordinary,

Nagatomo: A Critique of Katz's 'ZTontextua$smt"


commonsensical manner in which self-consciousness is at work and the state of hind.ha, where sara~dhir awareness remains. This must also be con- sistent in his mind with the causal process of "re-conditioning" which he beheves, for example, leads to the state of, given all the preparations stipulated for this goal are met in this process. However, this is not consis- tent with the Kant-like "transcendental turn" he shows in dealing with the "forms of consciousness." Suppose, however, that there are indeed "fundamental conditions un- der which, and under which alone, mystical experience, as all experience, takes place" (63). The "fundamental conditions" of which Katz speaks are transcendental in nature. This means that the "synthetic operations of the mind" are also transcendental in nature. However, we must keep in mind that the transcendental "synthetic operations of the mind" are postulated relative to the everyday, commonsensical standpoint, but here Katz believes that this can also be expanded to apply to "the specifically mystical modal- ity." This leads to a peculiar situation. Katz says that "the complex episte-

mological activity


is set in motion by the integrating character of self-

.. consciousness employed in the specifically mystical modality" and this "in- tegrafing activity of self-consciousness" is said to perform the "synthetic operations of the mind" (in Kant's terminology, "transcendental appercep- tion"). Moreover, this "synthetic operation," says Katz, is "in fact the fun- damental conditions under which, and under which alone, mystical experi- ence, as all experience, takes place" (63). This whole passage suggests then

that self-consciousness is experientially aware of this transcendental "syn- thetic operation of the mind," because one of the salient characteristics of

self-consciousness is its reflexivity, i.e., it is conscious of itself, albeit pre- reflectively. This is because it is more fundamental than the correlativity between the mind-act and its intentional or intended object. Otherwise, consciousness cannot have a reflective activity that is so essential for it to be. Katz may not be aware of confusion here between logic and experience, or if not that, Katz falls into a hermeneutical circle. The transcendental "syn- thetic operation of the mind" cannot be experienced, but can only be un- derstood intellectually or logically, because it is postulated as the result of a logical or intellectual demand. On the other hand, if it is experienced, though it would be strange to think this way, it is no longer "transcenden-

tal," but empirical. In this case it is

not clear what Katz means by stating

that "[t]hese constructive conditions of consciousness produce the grounds on which mystical experience is possible at all" (63). Even if this is not con- fusion, it must be an inference for Katz to assert it, as he didn't specify what "the forms of consciousness" are in terms of, for example, the Kant- like "transcendental categories."

  • 200 Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy

VII. Nothingness: Ontological or Ontic?

Now I would like to turn to another instance of Katz's logical-philosophical analysis that deals with the idea of "nothingness," since this term is key to understanding what it means to have a non-dualistic experience. To start, we need to pay attention to a warning Katz issues when dealing with the term "nothingness":

The mention of different ontological realities being covered by [i.e., "nothingness"] is an issue that raises severe difficultiesof a tic, and metaphysicalsort. (51)

the same term logical, seman-

This is an echo of Katz's acceptance of Russell's theory of definite descrip- tion. When the reader of the mystical texts sees the term "nothingness" used in different traditions, such as Eckhart's "nichtd' and Zen's "nothing- ness," Katz warns that we run into an "insuperable problem" if we fail to look at the different "ontological" structures in which these terms are used, and therefore we need to carefully examine "the precise use of the term" (51). Otherwise, he says, we get stuck in "logical, semantic, and metaphysi- cal" problems. In order to get "the precise use of the term," Katz asks:

Is it ["nothingness"]being used as a putative objective description of an

subjective description of an experience or a

object or objective ontological state

of be-

ing? This is the difference between using the term in a way analogous to the

subjective use of 'happiness', i.e. 'I experience happiness' as compared to the objective (and object) claim 'I experience God. (51-2)

Consider this question: Is "nothingness" an ontological term? Katz's response to this question is in the affirmative: "[a]gain this usage encour- ages one to reflect on the ontological claims that lie beneath and are necessary correlates of language" (52; emphasis added). However, isn't the term "nothingness" precisely a negation of ontology, and hence no ontological, conceptual structure that could give rise to the kind of issues that Katz raises here? Indeed, it may be possible to take this term "nothingness" as an ontological term, if one takes it to mean a "non-being" that is juxtaposed with, and opposed to, "being or Being," into which Katz fails later when he introduces Heidegger's distinction between "the ontological and the ontic." In order to get a proper understanding of "nothingness," however, as the- matized in Zen Buddhism or Daoism, a further negation of non-being by way of a practical transcendence is necessary such that it becomes "abso- lutely nothing" in the sense that "nothing" means that there is nothing fur-

ther to be juxtaposed with, nor opposed to. Katz has a sense of this term

when he observes: the term "nothingness


refers to the absolute ontologi-

Nagatomo: A Critique of Katz's '~ontextua~smt"


cal condition of emptiness or ,fanyat8 which transcends all being, all predi-

cation, all substantiality" (53), even though he is still stuck with

the term

"ontological." To explore this issue further, we need to go back to the statement Katz makes in the previous quotation in which he frames the question as:

"[i]s it [nothingness] being used as a subjective description of an experience

or a putative objective description of an object or objective ontological state

of being?"(51). This question is an attempt to

reduce the experience desig-

nated by the term "nothingness" to the terms of the epistemology of the everyday, commonsensical standpoint, for it begs the question. The experi- ence designated by this term is the negation of the everyday, commonsensi- cal standpoint, and therefore, the categories used in the dualistic epistemol- ogy such as the "subjective" and the "objective" are inappropriate, or if not that, represent a superimposition. They are, in fact, useless, for the experi- ence of nothingness occurs only in a non-dualistic context. In spite of the experiential origin of this term, Katzforces the term "nothingness" to behave in a way conformable to the dualistic structure of epistemology, and the subject-predicate structure of the language. He implies this in the way he formulates his question by using terms such as "subjective" and "objec- tive." To get a glimpse of the non-dualistic world by using the terms subjec- tive and objective, it is the world in which the subjective is the objective and the objective is the subjective. One may exclaim, "what a confused world this is!" This is so as long as we judge this statement from the everyday, commonsensical standpoint, where discrimination is the key operating fac- tor in discerning ourselves and the things in our surrounding environments. I suppose that the ontological consideration historically goes back to Parmenides, who thought reality must be sought in the thinkability of being. "Mystical" experience does not belong to this category of thinkability. When Katz raises a question regarding the "precise use of the term" (e.g., "nothingness"), he brings it down (or up) to the original meaning of the term into the domain of the language of religious experiences, for "being precise" means only within the structure of thinking or thinkability where a series of discrimination is an essential operation in order to come to the "precise" use of a term. The idea of language he has in mind here is that each lexicon in a language is essentially delineated and discriminated from each other. By using them as building blocks, we create an image of a world with precision. This is in part perhaps due to the intrinsic nature of the "phonetic language" Katz writes in (see Yasuo: 81-121). In the phonetic language, a meaning that a speaker discerns in a string of sounds is arbitrarily assigned. Consider the string of the sound "d-o-g," and compare it with the Chinese character, a pictograph, which depicts a "dog" f~mly planting its feet on the earth with its ears at attention. In the

  • 202 Dao: A

Journal of Comparative Philosophy

case of the former, there is no intrinsic "meaning," while in the latter a con- crete image is depicted. The "precise" meaning of a term, a phrase, and a description of which Katz speaks derives from an arbitrary human element that emphasizes an auditory perception for the purpose of interpersonal communication. To use the terminology introduced in the foregoing, this interpersonal communication is context 2, but not context 1. Clearly, what is at issue in religious experiences is not interpersonal communication. It is secondary to the experiences themselves, wherein one can also observe the prioritization as the tool for interpersonal communication. To probe further into the issue of whether or not the term "nothing- ness" is ontological or not, I will now examine how Katz analyzes the con- cept of nothingness. Katz is concerned with how to avoid equivocation of the term "nothingness" when it is used in Eastern philiosophico-religious contexts such as Zen Buddhism and Daoism. He observes:

One has to ask whether the various experiences of "nothingness" are similar or dissimilar experiences of the same phenomena, i.e. "nothingness," or different experiences of different phenomena, i.e., "nothingness" is a term which is used to cover alternative ontic realities. (52)

This seems to be a reasonable question to pose for the purpose of avoiding

an equivocation, but what interests me in this passage is his use of the term


a term Heidegger introduced in his Being and Time that is distin-

guished from the term "ontological." According to Heidegger, ontology is a phenomenological hermeneutical study of the meaning of the "Being of beings," while the ontic designates a particular science of "being" such as biology and chemistry. For this reason, the ontological is considered more fundamental than the "ontic" (see Heidegger: 28-35). Although the distinc- tion between the "ontological" and the "ontic" contains a problem similar to the issue which we encountered when Katz vacillates between the tran- scendental and the empirical, I will for now leave it unquestioned. By using the term "ontic," Katz makes the observation that a "substantial segment of the data of mystical experience" regarding the experience of "nothingness" shows that they are "ontic" in nature, although I fail to see this "substantial segment of the date" in his "Language, Epistemology, and Mysticism." Let's examine the following passage:

In this latter instance [i.e., "different

experiences of different phenomena, i.e.,

'nothingness"'], which seems to fit at least a substantial segment of the data of mystical experience more adequately, the difference between cases is a differ- ence between what is experienced, not just how something is experienced. The appropriateness of this second scheme, i.e. that the term is used to cover differ- ing ontic "states of affairs," recommends itself because to hold that it is just a case of how one experiences a common reality, one would have to have a suffi-

Nagatomo: A Critique of Katz's



ciently delimiting list of corresponding and agreed predicates that the experi- enced object possessed in both (or more) cases which are being compared. This, however, is absent in at least many, if not most, cases. (52)

A first question is whether or not the "ontological" understanding of "nothingness" as it is understood in Zen Buddhism and Daoism is covered by his "substantial segment of the data of mystical experience," for Katz now downgrades the status of the term "nothingness" from the "ontologi- cal" to the "ontic." He states, "the term is used to cover differing ontic 'states of affairs'," by qualifying his statement with the phrase, "for most cases" (52). It is a downgrade if we accept Heidegger's prioritization of the "ontological" over the "ontic." If his data do not cover the ontological un- derstanding of the term "nothingness," it comes to be no longer defined relative to some ontological structure but to the ontic structure. Together with this downgrade, the issue surrounding these ultimate experiences, i.e., whether or not they are definite or indefinite descriptions, evaporates from Katz's investigation, along with the other claims he made based on it. His focus now turns to the "ontic" status of the term "nothingness," and he gives a reason for the downgrade. This downgrade obtains, accord- ing to Katz, because "a substantial segment of the data of mystical experi- ence" is concerned with "what is experienced, not just how something is ex- perienced" (52). This is so because in the latter case, Katz observes that there is a lack of "a sufficiently delimiting list of corresponding and agreed predicates that the experienced object possessed in both (or more) cases which are being compared" (52). This description wilt fit the term "noth- ingness" when it is understood as "non-being" that is experienced, for ex- ample, as anxiety, absence or lack, because they are psychological or percep- tual, and hence "ontic." However, does it apply to the ontological under- standing of nothingness as it is understood in Zen Buddhism and Daoism? I will use the terms "de-ontologized" and "de-intentionalized" when char- acterizing the non-dualistic experiences that are closely related to the term "nothingness," as are found in the Eastern philosophico-religious traditions, but we need to look into this question a little more closely. If Katz's observation of the lack of data applies to the ontological un- derstanding of nothingness of these philosophico-religious traditions, we need to question his separation of "what" from "how." Does one occur without the other? Aren't they inseparable from each other in the experi- ence of nothingness even in the ontic cases? Closely connected with this distinction Katz makes between "what" and "how" is his understanding that there is "the experienced object," where "the experienced object" pre- sumably refers to "nothingness" (52). This may be true with regard to the ontic understanding of the term "nothingness" if it means anxiety, absence,

  • 204 Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy

and lack, as mentioned above. If it is true with the ontic understanding, it must also be true, as Katz might infer, with regard to the ontological under- standing of the term. Then the question arises of whether the term "onto-

logical" is an appropriate category to use when it is applied

to the non-

dualistic experience of nothingness as is seen in the philosophico-religious

traditions of Zen Buddhism and Daoism.

Heidegger's prioritization of the ontological over the ontic is analo- gous to Kant's prioritization of the transcendental over the empirical; in Heidegger's case in the understanding of the "Being of beings," and in Kant's case in the transcendental constitution of experience. In both cases, this prioritization is based on the value judgment that the theoretical or the logical takes precedence over the practical. By contrast, meditational-self cultivation brackets the issue, or leaves this issue untreated until mystics experientially conftrm the term "nothingness." There is then a difference in methodological procedure. What does this difference in the methodological procedure inform us of Katz's application of Heidegger's distinction be- tween the ontological and the ontic to the term "nothingness"? It seems to be another confmnafion that Katz reduces non-dualistic experience to dual- istic experience; he forces the former to conform to the subject-predicate syntactic structure of the subject-object dualistic epistemology, although in the present case the distinction between "the ontological" and "the ontic" is made in view of Heidegger's emphasis on "understanding". I-Ieidegger's concept of understanding may be taken in both senses of reflective, intellec- tual grasping of Dasein's situatedness in the world and the pre-reflective grasping of Dasein's "being-in-the-world." While the pre-reflective grasping of Dasein's "being-in-the-world" is nondualistic experience in the eve~ydayness

of its existence, it cannot rise to the level of making a distinction


the ontological and the ontic. Therefore, Heidegger's distinction between them arises from reflective, intellectual understanding. This is the methodo-

logical stance that is bracketed in meditational self-culfivaton.

This reduction occurs, I think, because Katz takes the term "nothing-

ness" to be

a noun.

I observe this practice when he uses this term in refer-

ence to the early Buddhist meditation state of 8kinaca~Syatana and the mu

of Daoism

or Zen Buddhism




53). He believes that there is an

object that is called "nothingness." This is a misunderstanding, I believe, because "nothingness" is not an object, nor is it a state that can be repre- sented nominally with a precise literal meaning as an object. To see that it is not a noun or an object, all we need to do is to look at how this term is used in the context of meditational self-cultivation, and we will learn that

"nothingness" must be understood as "no-thing" or "nothing. TM For exam-

4 We can also cite from Patafijali's Yogasatraa state of emancipation called "nir0dhasamapatti,"

Nagatomo: A Critique of Katz's 'Contextuahsmt"


pie, the Suttani~ta, the oldest extant record of the historical Buddha's teachings, describes the meditative state preceding the meditative state of "no-thing existing" (8kinaca~Syatana) as: "when all the names and forms are brought to cessation by virtue of the fact that the discriminatory func- tion of the mind ceases, the name and the form disappear" (Hagime: 1037). Here, the name and the form refer to the linguistic activity that gives rise to a belief that there is a "thing" corresponding to the name which it designates. It refers to a samddhic state in which no discriminatory activities of the mind occur. It can be regarded as a state only when it is reflectively objectified by appealing to language, and this appeal is exactly the stance that Katz assumes, but this will be a departure from the original meaning, as I discussed through the distinction between context I and context 2. Technically, there is a non-positional awareness in meditation, wherein no positing activity takes place. By "non-positional" I mean that the mind does not take an attitude of either affirming or negating whatever is pre- sented in the field of meditative awareness (see Kasulis: 79). In this instance, there is still a duality between that which observes and that which is ob- served. With practice, they become one, when the samddhic awareness in meditation goes deeper and higher than the ego-consciousness, and moves into a subtler dimension than the gross materiality upon which ego- consciousness operates. This is a process of achieving partial union, com- plete union, oneness, and then importantly, nothingness. In the case of both unions, there are still two "things" united, just as two transparencies are laid on top of each other. Partial union designates metaphorically that the area of this overlap is small or shallow compared to the complete union. From the state of union to oneness, there is yet another deepening of the meditation, moving into a still subtler dimension of being. For this to occur, ego-consciousness fortified by "images, concepts, symbols, ideological val- ues, and ritual behavior" must be shattered. To use Jung's terminology, oneness obtains by going through and beyond the collective psychd, al- though this collectivity has a range: from the interpersonal to the communal, to the national, to the ethnic, and through the human, each encompassing a wider and deeper scope as the meditator goes through them, until he or she reaches the state that "this is that" and "that is this," wherein a non- dualistic world opens up. The meditator eventually comes to the state of nothingness. A reflective judgment in which these statements are made is rooted experientially in the "bottomless ground" that is neither "this" nor "that," and this "bottomless ground" is nothing other than the experience of nothingness. Because it is bottomless, it is inappropriate even to use the world "ground" because there is no ground. That is the meaning of "bot-

i.e., "the cessation of the psychophysiologicalmodification."

  • 206 Dao: A Journal of ComparativePhilosophy

tomless." Yet it is the source of creativity into which all beings return. One should not, therefore, understand the phrase "bottomless ground" to mean something negative. It is not negative. For that matter it is not positive ei- ther. When the experiential origin of the term "nothingness" is seen in this

manner, it will be seen that when Katz says that the term

"refers to the ab-

solute ontologicalcondition of emptiness or gtinyata, which transcends all be- ing, all predication, all substantiality" (53), his use of the term "ontological" is a category mistake, for when the mind is non-positional in its activity, it does not "ontologize" its mode of awareness, unlike the mind in its mode of thinkability. Only when this experience is brought to the level of dis- course, i.e., only when context 1 is translated into context 2 with the aid of the either-or ego-logical scheme, can it be "ontologized," and hence pre- sents a semblance that the term "nothingness" is an ontological category. Katz's endeavor here is an attempt to endow the provisional meaning of this term with the literal meaning, which is a mistake when it is applied to the term "nothingness" thematized in Buddhism and Daoism.

VIII. Concluding Remarks

To conclude my essay, I would like to first summarize Katz's project ana- logically. His project seems to be analogous to a situation where he applies a cookie-cutter that is a linguistic analysis of the language and epistemology of mystical experiences to a dough that is non-dualistic religious experiences of the Asian philosophico-religious traditions. Consequently, Katz is led, reasonably in his mind, to conclude that the shape of the dough (i.e., the non-dualistic experiences of these Asian traditions) is the shape of the cookie-cutter (i.e., dualism represented by "language" and "epistemology"). Reflection on Katz's methodological stances, however, reveals the fol- lowing. His contextualist position is advanced by begging questions (petitio prendpiz) because both language and epistemology are tools of mediation. This is so because everyday experience is dualistically mediated by the sub- ject-predicate linguistic structure and by the epistemological subject-object relationship. Accordingly, Katz's method of analyzing the language and epistemology of mystical experiences accepts in advance his foundational presupposition as being reasonable. This is problematic when Katz's thesis ts applied to the non-dualistic experiences of Asian traditions. Given the non-dualistic nature of the religious experiences thematized in the Asian religious-philosophical traditions, Katz's contextualism is a project of re- ducing non-dualism to dualism. Moreover, since Katz's arguments are guided in their logical foundations by the use of an either-or ego-logical scheme in making a truth-claim, it is employed as a tool to legitimate and

Nagatomo:A Critique of Katz' s "~Sontextualismt"


justify his contextualism. Either-or logic prioritizes one of the two terms that stand in opposition to each other through a linguistic activity of either affirmation or negation, and it favors one-sidedness and imbalance. By con- trash the non-dualistic standpoint favors a holistic perspective. In the fore- going I have attempted a critique of Katz's contextualism, and I have shown that Katz's contextualism, as an explanatory modal for mystical ex- periences, suffers from inconsistency and incoherence, when it is examined from the point of view of non-dualism, as advocated in the Asian philoso- phico-religious traditions, s


Chan, Wmg-tsit. 1963. A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. Princeton:

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Dodds, E. R. 1951. The Greeks andthe Irrational. Berkeley: The University of California Press.


1980. "Koan Presencing" (Genj6k6). In ShSb6genz& Tokyo: Iwa-


Heidegger, Martin. 1962. Being and Time. New York: Harper & Row.


Jung, Carl.

1962. "Commentary." In Secret of Golden Flower. New York:


court Brace Jovanovich. Kasulis, T.P. 1981. Zen Action/Zen Person. Honolulu: University of Hawaii


Katz, Stephen. 1978. "Language, Epistemology, and Mysticism." In Katz's

Mysticism and Philosophical Ana~sis. Oxford: Oxford University Press,

1978: 22-74. Hajime, Nakamura. 1977. The Sutlanit~ta (Budda no kotoba). Tokyo: Iwa- nami: Shoten.

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ishiti: Ky6jisei no uchQkan). Kyoto: Jinmon shoin: 81-121.

s This is the shorter version of a longermanuscript on the same subject. I would like to ex- press my appreciation to MichaelGraham and Jacque Fasan for providingme with many useful commentsand repairingmy English.