The mystical stance: The experience of self‐loss and Daniel Dennett's “center of narrative gravity”

Zygon 49 (2):458-475 (2014)
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Abstract

For centuries, mystically inclined practitioners from various religious traditions have articulated anomalous and mystical experiences. One common aspect of these experiences is the feeling of the loss of the sense of self, referred to as “self-loss.” The occurrence of “self-loss” can be understood as the feeling of losing the subject/object distinction in one's phenomenal experience. In this article, the author attempts to incorporate these anomalous experiences into modern understandings of the mind and “self” from philosophy and psychology. Accounts of self-loss from religious literature along with similar accounts from recent nonreligious writers, suggest that self-loss accounts are potentially legitimate descriptions and not simply the result of religious apologetics. Specifically, I examine self-loss through the lens of philosopher Daniel Dennett's theory of “self as the center of narrative gravity.” I argue that Dennett's understanding of the self, if correct, allows for the relegitimation of self-loss experiences rooted in current views from the psychological literature, rather than rooted in metaphysical religious claims

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References found in this work

Freedom evolves.Daniel Clement Dennett - 2003 - New York: Viking Press.
The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature.William James - 1929 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Matthew Bradley.
The Varieties of Religious Experience.William James, Frederick H. Burkhardt, Fredson Bowers & Ignas K. Skrupskelis - 1986 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 22 (4):487-493.

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