Skip to content
BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access July 15, 2019

Objective, Intersubjective Mystical Relationships: Justification and Reality

Michael Barber EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Theology

Abstract

Amplifying the idea of religious experience as occurring within an encompassing “religious province of meaning” and developing the personal character of the experience of God in the Abrahamic religious traditions, this paper argues that mystics in those traditions experience God “objectively.” Their experience of God is that of experiencing God as what Alfred Schutz called a “Consociate,” despite the lack of God’s bodily presence. Such a phenomenological account of religious experience converges with the description by analytic philosopher William Alston of religious experience as an objectively given, non-sensual perception of God, even though the personal Consociate model is preferable to the perceptual one, given the Abrahamic traditions. Conversely, Alston and Alvin Plantinga show how ascending levels of rational justification of religious experience are possible with reference to the experiential level, and such levels can be accommodated within the Schutzian “theoretical province of meaning” in its collaboration with the religious province. Both the Consociate and Schelerian/personalist accounts of God resist any explaining away of religious experience as mere phantasy, and the religious finite province of meaning provides a more comprehensive explanation of religious experience than either Alston’s or Plantinga’s approaches. However, the strategy of envisioning religious experience as taking place within a finite province of meaning is more noetic in character than Scheler’s view of an eidetically elaborated noematic absolute reality that precedes the rise of consciousness itself and that counterbalances the noetic portrayal of religious experience.

References

Alston, William P. Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1991.Search in Google Scholar

Barber, Michael. Religion and Humor as Emancipating Provinces of Meaning. Dordrecht: Springer, 2017.10.1007/978-3-319-62190-6Search in Google Scholar

Dreyfus, Georges. “Is Mindfulness Present-Centred and Non-Judgmental? A Discussion of the Cognitive Dimensions of Mindfulness.” In Mindfulness: Diverse Perspectives on its Meaning, Origins, and Multiple Applications at the Intersection of Science and Dharma, edited by. J.Mark G. Williams, Jon Kabat-Zinn, published as Contemporary Buddhism 12 (2011): 42-50.10.1080/14639947.2011.564811Search in Google Scholar

Green, Adam. “Reading the Mind of God (without Hebrew lessons): Alston, Shared Attention, and Mystical Experience.” Religious Studies 45-4 (2009): 445-470.10.1017/S0034412509990175Search in Google Scholar

Gurwitsch, Aron. The Field of Consciousness: Theme, Thematic Field, and Margin, vol. 3 of The Collected Works of Aron Gurwitsch (1901–1973), 382-383, 392. Dordrecht: Springer, 2010.Search in Google Scholar

Husserl, Edmund. Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology, translated by Dorion Cairns. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1960.10.1007/978-94-017-4952-7Search in Google Scholar

McDowell, John. “The Content of Perceptual Experience,” Philosophical Quarterly 44 (1994): 190-205.10.2307/2219740Search in Google Scholar

Merton, Thomas. Day of a Stranger. Salt Lake City: Gibbs M. Smith, Inc., 1981.Search in Google Scholar

Merton, Thomas. Echoing Silence: On the Vocation of Writing. Boston and London: New Seeds, 2007.Search in Google Scholar

Merton, Thomas. Zen and the Birds of Appetite. Gethsemani, Kentucky: The Abbey of Gethsemani, Inc., 1968.Search in Google Scholar

Merton, Thomas. The Springs of Contemplation: A Retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani, edited by Jane Marie Richardson. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1992.Search in Google Scholar

O’Connor, Flannery. “To ‘A,’” December 16, 1955. In The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O’Connor, selected and edited by Sally Fitzgerald, 123-26. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.Search in Google Scholar

Plantinga, Alvin. Knowledge and Christian Belief. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 2015.Search in Google Scholar

Plantinga, Alvin. Warranted Christian Belief. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.10.1093/0195131932.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Scheler, Max. “Erkenntnis und Arbeit: Eine Studie über Wert und Grenzen des pragmatischen Motivs in der Erkenntnis der Welt,” in Die Wissensformen und die Gesellschaft, by Maria Scheler, vol. 8 of Gesammelte Werke, 191-382. Bern and Munich: Francke Verlag, 1960.Search in Google Scholar

Scheler, Max. “Idealismus – Realismus.” In Späte Schriften, edited by Manfred Frings, vol. 9 of Gesammelte Werke. Bern and Munich: Francke Verlag, 1976.Search in Google Scholar

Scheler, Max. On the Eternal in Man, translated by Bernard Noble. New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1961.Search in Google Scholar

Schutz, Alfred. “On Multiple Realities.” In Collected Papers 1: The Problem of Social Reality, edited by Maurice Natanson, 207-259. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1962.Search in Google Scholar

Schutz, Alfred. The Phenomenology of the Social World, translated by George Walsh and Frederick Lehnert, 139-214. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1967.Search in Google Scholar

Steinbock, Anthony J. Phenomenology and Mysticism: The Verticality of Religious Experience Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2009.Search in Google Scholar

Suzuki, Daisetz T. and Thomas Merton. “Wisdom of Emptiness.” In Zen and the Birds of Appetite, 99-138. New York: The Abbey of Gethsemani, Inc. 1968.Search in Google Scholar

Thérèse of Lisieux. The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux With Additional Writings and Sayings of St. Thérèse (Thérèse Martin of Lisieux), edited and translated by T.N. Taylor. London: Burns, Oates, and Washbourne, LD, 2006.Search in Google Scholar

Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and “The Spirit of Capitalism” (1905), translated by Stephen Kalberg. Los Angeles: Roxbury Publ. Co., 2002.Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2019-04-17
Accepted: 2019-06-05
Published Online: 2019-07-15

© 2019 Michael Barber, by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

Downloaded on 29.11.2022 from frontend.live.degruyter.dgbricks.com/document/doi/10.1515/opth-2019-0011/html
Scroll Up Arrow