Mysticism claims of its logical scheme that it is Euclidean, that from its first axiom or principle the remainder of its doctrine follows, but it makes this claim in so many languages and in such a variety of obscure and self-contradictory ways that it is difficult to discern how this could be possible, and it is rarely considered a plausible claim in metaphysics. I believe it is plausible, and in this essay I try to explain why.
Are mystical experiences primarily formed by the mystic's cultural background and concepts, as modern day "constructivists" maintain, or do mystics in some way transcend language, belief, and culturally conditioned expectations? Do mystical experiences differ in the different religious traditions, as "pluralists" contend, or are they identical across cultures? Twelve contributors here attempt to answer these questions through close examination of a particular form of mystical experience, "Pure Consciousness"--the experience of being awake but devoid of intentional content for consciousness. The contributors (...) analyze pure consciousness and other mystical experiences from historical Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and Jewish sources, as well as from modern mystics. They demonstrate that pure consciousness poses serious conceptual problems for a contructivist understanding of mysticism. Revealing the inconsistencies and inadequacies of current models, they make significant strides towards developing new models for the phenomenon of mysticism, breaking new ground for our understanding of mysticism and of human experience in general. (shrink)
This is a sequel to Forman's well-received collection, The Problems of Pure Consciousness (OUP 1990). The essays in this previous volume argued that some mystical experiences do not seem to be formed or shaped by the language system--a thesis that stands in sharp contrast to the constructivist school, which holds that all mysticism is the product of a cultural and linguistic process. In The Innate Capacity, the same scholars put forward a hypothesis about the formative causes of these "pure (...) consciousness" experiences. All the contributors agree that mysticism is the result of an innate human capacity, rather than a learned, socially conditioned constructive process. They look at mystical experience as it is manifested in a variety of religious and cultural settings, including Hindu Yoga, Buddhism, Sufism, and medieval Christianity. Taken together, the essays constitute an important contribution to the ongoing debate about the nature of mystical experience and its relation to the social and cultural context in which it appears. (shrink)
In all the current alienating discourse on Islam as a source of extremism and fanatic violence this new publication takes a timely and refreshing look at the traditions of Islamic mysticism, philosophy and intellectual debate in a series of diverse and stimulating approaches. It tackles the major figures of Islamic thought as well as shedding light on hitherto unconsidered aspects of Islam utilizing new source material. The contributors are impressive list of scholars and experts.
Are mysticism and morality compatible or at odds with one another? If mystical experience embraces a form of non-dual consciousness, then in such a state of mind, the regulative dichotomy so basic to ethical discretion would seemingly be transcended and the very foundation for ethical decisions undermined. Venturing Beyond - Law and Morality in Kabbalistic Mysticism is an investigation of the relationship of the mystical and moral as it is expressed in the particular tradition of Jewish mysticism (...) known as the Kabbalah. The particular themes discussed include the denigration of the non-Jew as the ontic other in kabbalistic anthropology and the eschatological crossing of that boundary anticipated in the instituition of religious conversion; the overcoming of the distinction between good and evil in the mystical experience of the underlying unity of all things; divine suffering and the ideal of spiritual poverty as the foundation for transmoral ethics and hypernomian lawfulness. (shrink)
The editorial stance of this book is that mysticism and science offer a way forward here, but only if they abandon the idol of a single logical synthesis and acknowledge the diversity of different ways of knowing. The contributors from disciplines as diverse as music, psychology, mathematics and religion, build a vision that honours diversity while pointing to an implicit unity.
Some recent version of mysticism -- Empty epiphanies in modernist and postmodernist theory -- The gender of human togetherness -- Histories of modern selfhood -- Meister Eckhart's anthropology -- Becoming God in fourteenth-century Europe -- The makings of the modern self -- Taking leave of Sigmund Freud -- Everyday acknowledgments.
The essays collected in this volume explore some of the themes that have been at the centre of recent debates within Wittgensteinian scholarship. In opposition to what we are tentatively inclined to think, the articles of this volume invite us to understand that our need to grasp the essence of ethical and religious thought and language will not be achieved by metaphysical theories expounded from such a point of view, but by focusing on our everyday forms of expression.
After a quarter of a century in print, Capra's groundbreaking work still challenges and inspires. This updated edition of The Tao of Physics includes a new preface and afterword in which the author reviews the developments of the twenty-five years since the book's first publication, discusses criticisms the book has received, and examines future possibilities for a new scientific world.
Introduction : the middle is everywhere -- Towards an ideal limit : linguistic authority in the work of Iris Murdoch -- From apophasis to aporia : William Golding and the indescribable -- Verbal sludge : the ethics of instability in Patrick White's prose -- Bliss from bricks : Saul Bellow's moral phenomenology -- Conclusion: drawing circles in the sea : un-defining the 'mystical novelist' -- Endnotes.
There is mounting evidence that strong personal relationships and spiritual beliefs contribute to our well-being. In Divine Therapy, Janet Sayers employs a biographical approach to the lives and writings of a range of eminent psychotherapists and psychologists to illuminate the link between physical and mental well-being and the 'at-one-ness' provided by love, religious and mystical experiences.
Mysticism and logic -- The place of science in a liberal education -- A free man's worship -- The study of mathematics -- Mathematics and the metaphysicians -- On scientific method in philosophy -- The ultimate constituents of matter -- The relation of sense-data to physics -- On the notion of cause -- Knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description.
Music seems mysterious, and our experience of some can have a peculiar depth. I think we should embrace this mysteriousness and not try to explain it away. There is something about music and our experience of it that is indescribable, and sometimes wonderfully indescribable. I here explore a view of music that is unashamedly mystical. However, this mysticism takes a particular form. Near the entry on “music” in Robert Audi’s Dictionary of Philosophy (Audi 1999) is an entry on “ (...) class='Hi'>mysticism” by William Mann, in which he writes: Mystics claim that, although veridical, their experience cannot be adequately described in language, because ordinary communication is based on sense-experience and conceptual differentiation: mystical writings are thus characterised by metaphor and simile. I think that we should embrace just such a view of music. Music has what are sometimes called ‘ineffable’ qualities — qualities that we can think of but that are literally indescribable. And our experience of music has ineffable qualities. We reach for metaphor and simile to describe aesthetic properties that cannot otherwise be described (Zangwill 2001, chapter 10). Metaphor and simile are the best we can do to capture the aesthetic nature of music, and our experience of it. Only by means of metaphor and simile can we describe music and our experience of it, and even then our description is doomed to inadequacy. There is a reality in the music and in our experience of it that escapes literal description, and we gesture at it by any means at our disposal. But we inevitably fail to capture its true character. Metaphor and simile are the best we can do, however, and some metaphorical descriptions are better than others. But the character of the music and of our musical experience is ultimately ineffable. To ward off one source of.. (shrink)
Jerome Gellman has recently disputed my claim that a naturalistic explanation for mystical experiences is available, a better explanation than any current attempt to show that God is sometimes perceived in those experiences. Gellman argues (i) that some mystics do not 'fit' the sociological explanation of I. M. Lewis; (ii) that the sociological analysis of tribal mysticism cannot properly be extended to theistic experiences; and (iii) that mystical experiences merit prima facie credence, so the burden of proof falls on (...) the naturalist. I reply (i) that the alleged counter-examples either do fit Lewis's explanation or are too poorly known to judge; (ii) that Lewis's theory, supplemented by recent neurophysiological findings, provides a strong explanation for all mystical experiences; and (iii) that the burden of proof, if there is one, now falls on the theist. (shrink)
This paper intends to append the frame of dialectic upon St. John of the Cross’ delineation of mysticism. Its underlying hypothesis is that the dialectical structuring of St. John’s mystical theology promises to unravel the web of relational concepts embedded within his immense writings on this unique phenomenon. It is hoped that as a consequence of this undertaking, relevant pairs of correlative opposites that figure prominently in mysticism can be elucidated and perhaps come to some form of resolution.
Philosophers promoting a version ofUniversal Self Consciousness mysticism(including Wainwright, Alston, Hick, Wilber andForman) take it that their interpretations ofmysticism are consistent with currentscientific findings. However, their theorieshave been implicitly or explicitly against thecentral claim arising from science, namely, thephysical causal completeness principle. Thereis strong ground to accept physical causalcompleteness for human functioning, and theassessment of physical completeness isindependent of the phenomenology of UniversalSelf Consciousness mystical experience.Further, there is a positive account ofUniversal Self Consciousness mysticism thataccepts physical causal completeness. (...) Such anaccount is preferable to the many accounts thatboth require its denial and yet give nobasically satisfactory evidence to ground thatdenial. (shrink)
This study examines the history of the psychoanalytic theory of mysticism, starting with the seminal correspondence between Freud and Romain Rolland concerning the concept of "oceanic feeling." Providing a corrective to current views which frame psychoanalysis as pathologizing mysticism, Parsons reveals the existence of three models entertained by Freud and Rolland: the classical reductive, ego-adaptive, and transformational (which allows for a transcendent dimension to mysticism). Then, reconstructing Rolland's personal mysticism (the "oceanic feeling") through texts and letters (...) unavailable to Freud, Parsons argues that Freud misinterpreted the oceanic feeling. In offering a fresh interpretation of Rolland's mysticism, Parsons constructs a new dialogical approach for psychoanalytic theory of mysticism which integrates culture studies, developmental perspectives, and the deep epistemological and transcendent claims of the mystics. (shrink)
Perennialists regarding the phenomenology of mysticism, like Walter Stace, feel that all Christian mystical experiences are fundamentally similar to each other and to experiences described by mystics across religious traditions, cultures and ages. In his seminal work, Mystic Union: An Essay in the Phenomenology of Mysticism, Nelson Pike convincingly argues that this extreme position is inadequate for capturing the breadth of experiences described by the canonical Medieval Christian mystics. However, Pike may have leaned too far away from perennialism (...) in claiming that all the experiences of (Christian) mystic union are essentially theistic. Here, I argue that Pike did not successfully establish this point and that union without distinction, often described as the pinnacle of union by Christian mystics, remains a viable candidate for an instance of a trans-traditionally type-identical mystical experience. (shrink)
Throughout his authorship, Kierkegaard appears remarkably uninterested in the tradition of Christian mysticism. Indeed, in the only two places in the authorship where he broaches the topic directly, the discussion is disclaimed in such a way as to suggest that Kierkegaard really has nothing to say about it at all. However, attending to the successive incarnations of the character(s) named “Ludvig” throughout the authorship – an appellation that harbors an especially self-referential dimension for Kierkegaard – the present paper attempts (...) to elucidate what may, with due reservation, be referred to as the mystical element in Kierkegaard’s thought. The ultimate yield of this endeavor is a vision of “mysticism” that is more act than thought oriented, and a vision of the author “Kierkegaard” that is more delightful than melancholy. (shrink)
Stace and others maintain that mystical consciousness reveals the identity of selves and, therefore, provides a justification for altruism. Zaehner argues that some types of mystical consciousness apparently reveal the identity of such opposites as good and evil, and Danto holds that mystical consciousness involves a transcendence of all distinctions, including moral distinctions. Thus, for both Zaehner and Danto mysticism undercuts morality. The author attempts to show that these positions are defective and suggests that there are no important epistemic (...) or logical connections between mystical consciousness and morality. (shrink)
In her important work, Hasidism as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, the late Rivkah Schatz-Uffenheimer depicted early eighteenth-century Hasidism as a movement with pronounced ‘quietist tendencies’. In this paper I raise several difficulties with this thesis. These follow from social-activist features of early Hasidism as well as from a selection from the writings of leading early Hasidic masters. I conclude that a major stream of thought in early Hasidim was not quietist in tendency. Finally, I compare (...) the intentions of the masters I cite to some non-quietist themes in Eastern mystical thought. (Published Online July 10 2006). (shrink)
Robert Williams objects that my interpretation of Hegel’s philosophical theology makes him an “Enlightenment naturalist.” In response, I explain how my book describes Hegel as decisively criticizing Enlightenment naturalism by showing that the finite and the natural must be sublated in the infinite. Second, I show that Hegel’s apparently paradoxical conception of the relation between humans and God makes sense when it is seen as part of the long tradition of rational mysticism, which includes Plato, Plotinus, Proclus, St. Augustine, (...) and Meister Eckhart. (shrink)
The history of philosophy exhibits recurrent interest in the phenomenon and claims of mysticism. Contemporary philosophers (e.g., Blondel, Heidegger) have recognized the irreducibility of mystical experience to philosophical analysis, and adopted a receptive attitude toward it, considering it a valuable source of insight into the religious way of life. In Philosophie et mystique, Breton pursues this latter task according to a phenomenology of relations in which “being-in” the element of the Absolute appears as the essential structure of mystical experience. (...) From this perspective, it becomes necessary to see a rationality that is both proper to mysticism and intelligible to philosophy. (shrink)
Abstract Whether extrovertive, introvertive, or some further hybrid, the process of the soul touching the fullness of its divine origins is itself undergoing transformation in the twenty-first-century cultural matrices of Israel. A remarkable exemplar of devotional Hebrew cultures can be found within the hybrid networks of haredi worlds in Israel today. R. Yitzhaq Maier Morgenstern, author of Yam ha-okhmah, Netiv ayyim , and De'i okhmah le-nafshekha , is arguably the most innovative mystical voice in Israel. Why are his works resonating (...) so strongly both inside and outside their haredi communities of origin? How is his innovative thinking affecting the devotional praxis of Devekut both inside and outside the unfolding Hasidic networks? This exploration of mystical apperception through Devekut builds upon studies of Garb, Huss, and Meir, while challenging the idea that Morgenstern's expanding impact is solely a function of his mystical-magical charisma and hypernomian spiritual practice. This study argues that it is Morgenstern's hybridized thinking through key theoretical issues in Kabbalah and Hasidism as they apply to the lived practice of a devotional life of Devekut that will likely remain his strongest innovation and contribution to contemporary Jewish mysticism. (shrink)
This paper endeavours to unravel the dialectical structure embedded within St. John of the Cross’ delineation of the phase of purgation in the economy of mysticism. Two correlative opposites that figure prominently in some systems of theistic mysticism are infinite-finite and grace-effort. The premise of this paper is that those pairings are not dichotomous contraries but are opposites that are amenable to some form of reconciliation. With the aid of a triadic dialectical scheme it is possible to map (...) out the dialectical relations between relevant concepts within mystical purgation, characterized as ‘night’ by St. John, and perhaps achieve some advance in the elucidation of the pairings’ constitutive elements. (shrink)
This book is a collection of Shahid Murtada Mutahhari’s essential papers on philosophy, theology, ‘irfan (Islamic mysticism), usul al-fiqh (principles of jurisprudence) and morality. The six parts together serve as both a comprehensive survey of the fundamentals of different branches of Islamic studies and a general guide to understanding the basic teachings of Islam.
Ten brilliant essays on logic appear in this collection, the work of one of the world’s best-known authorities on logic. In these thought-provoking arguments and meditations, Nobel Prize winner Bertrand Russell challenges the romantic mysticism of the 19th century, positing instead his theory of logical atomism. These essays are categorized by Russell as "entirely popular" and "somewhat more technical." The former include the well-known title essay plus "A Free Man’s Worship" and "The Place of Science in a Liberal Education"; (...) the latter comprise "On the Notion of Cause" and "Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description," along with other essays written in the cogent and witty style for which their author is justly renowned. (shrink)
How, from a scientific standpoint, should we understand mystical experiences? On the one hand such experiences are obviously capable of being studied scientifically. Nevertheless there is a sense in which such experiences often seem strongly opposed to our ordinary scientific views of reality, for they often seem to point to a domain quite outside that examined by naturalistic empirical science. Indeed, this is often precisely what seems to be ‘mystical’ about them. The present essay takes a hard look at specific (...) question of the possible significance of these experiences for scientific naturalism. (shrink)
We examine that both science and religion were original products of the human imagination. However, the approaches taken to develop these two explanations of life, were entirely different. The precepts of evolution are well established through the scientific method. This approach has led to the accumulation of immense amounts of evidence for biological evolution, and much scientific progress has been made to understand the pathways taken for the appearance of organisms and their macromolecular constituents. The existence of spiritual beings has (...) not and presumably cannot be documented via a scientific approach, no more than a fairy tale or a myth. However, science, education and knowledge coupled to proper actions are exactly what are needed to make the correct decisions so as to preserve and improve our common, shared biosphere which is currently confronted with two immense problems: human population growth and climate change. (shrink)
This paper surveys the key terms śaktipāta and samāveśa (both of which refer to religious experience) in the primary sources of Tantric Śaivism over several centuries of textual development, building up a theory as to their range of meanings. It specifically focuses on their usage by Abhinavagupta (Kāshmīr, 10th century) by presenting a complete translation of chapter 11 of his Tantrasāra. The paper thus serves to (a) illuminate the nature of spiritual experience and the qualifcations for religious praxis in Śaivism, (...) (b) give insight into the worldview of the Tantric Śaivas, and (c) help in pinpointing a specific and significant issue in the phenomenological study of religion generally. (shrink)
This article combines the disciplines of textual/linguistic analysis, anthropology, and perceptual psychology to examine selected ancient Jewish mystical texts that claim to describe the praxis for ascents into heaven and encounters with angelic spirits in order to reconstruct the psychosocial context of these literary works. Specifically, the article examines Hekhalot or "Divine Palaces" texts that deal with hydromancy, giving attention to their mythic–symbolic assumptions, their described preparatory and triggering rituals, and their accounts of the ASC (altered states of consciousness) visions (...) resulting from these rituals that are experienced by the practitioners. The article suggests that these accounts correlate with ASC practices identified in the literature and additionally suggests that although the mystical texts are written to resemble biblical accounts of revelatory experiences, the texts under consideration are more than works of fabulous imagination; they are literary artifacts of an actual ecstatic ASC praxis among the Jews of Late Antiquity. (shrink)
Love, desire, and enjoyment are the best natural candidates for an understanding of mystic love. Grounded in these natural capacities, mystic love bestows a spiritual orientation upon them that they cannot give to themselves. Mystic love has everything in common with a passionate love; that is to say, a love consumed by desire. However, it also consists in a painful transformation of this self-destructive passion into a pure love; that is to say, a love without desire—which is another word for (...) the highest contemplative prayers. The mystic way that brings about this transformation possesses a triadic structure. The first stage begins with the humble forms of meditative prayer and ends with the spectacular prayers of rapture and ecstasy. The suffering of the mystic night is the turning point, preparing the prayer of mystic union with God in which the soul loves all there is as it is. (shrink)
There is a well known debate between those who defend a traditional (or classical) concept of God and those who defend a process (or neoclassical) concept of God. Not as well known are the implications of these two rival concepts of God in the effort to understand religious experience. With the aid of the great pragmatist philosopher John Smith, I defend the process (or neoclassical) concept of God in its ability to better illuminate and render as intelligible as possible mystical (...) experience. (shrink)