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Here’s a tanbih (تنبيه) for you in case you’re ever tempted – or worse, taken in – by obscurantist claims to special, “esoteric” items of knowledge, particularly when such items, merely on grounds of being esoteric in character, are set in opposition to rationally well-established premises.

The way something may seem i.e., to a perceiver, can be different from the way it is in itself. Therefore, the relation between appearance and reality is not necessarily one of entailment. In other words, not every appearance is epistemic i.e., guarantees the extra-mental existence of what it is an appearance of. Therefore, from your perception or experience of x, it does not necessarily follow that (1) x exists or (for that matter) that (2) x doesn’t exist. Call this thesis AR. The same is the case with beliefs; from your mere belief in p, neither (1) ‘p is true’ nor ‘p is false’ follows. In such cases, something else – over and above the mere appearance or perception – is needed.

Suppose, then, you have some mystical i.e., “supra-rational” experience of some x, from which you come out believing in some p. Given AR, nothing about your experience/perception of x entails the existence of x, although the experience may be evidence for why you believe in p. But, as you saw, your belief in p, by itself, doesn’t validly entail the truth of p; nor does your belief in p, this time in conjunction with the evidence for it, i.e., your mere experience of x, entail the truth of p – AR undermines this latter inference as well.

So, plug in any purported mystical phenomenon for x and any proposition or item of esoteric knowledge for p (that x is supposedly evidence for) and you’ll see the point. Once you do see it, internalize it by repeatedly thinking the argument through; hopefully then, mystical ‘flights of fancy’ (takhayyulat sufiyyah), in whatever form you find them, won’t have any purchase on your assent (tasdiq) – especially, again, when they’re opposed to premises which you hold on solid rational grounds.

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