This article deals with the grounds for accepting or rejecting the insights of mystics. We examine the social-epistemological question of what the non-mystic should make of the mystic's claim, and what she might be able to make of it, given various possible states of the evidence available to her.
For clarity, let's reserve the term “mystic” for one who claims to have had an ineffable insight. As such, there are two parts to the mystic's claim: first, a substantive insight into the way the world works; second, a (perfectly effable) meta-insight that the substantive insight is ineffable. The two parts to the claim are independent: it is possible to accept that the mystic has been struck by an ineffable idea, but refuse to lend credence to the idea itself. Similarly, it is possible to accept the mystic's claim that she has had a veridical insight, whilst denying her claim that it is ineffable, or that she can know that it's ineffable. Thus, we could inquire into the grounds for accepting either part of the mystic's conjunctive claim. In this article, we deal only with the grounds for rejecting or accepting the substantive insight of a mystic, granting the meta-insight that the insight is ineffable.