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Negotiating the Nature of Mystical Experience, Guided by James and Tillich

UNCP Author/Contributor (non-UNCP co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Dr.. David H. Nikkel, Associate Professor & Dept. Chair (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP )
Web Site: http://www.uncp.edu/library/

Abstract: The nature of mystical experience has been hotly debated. Essentialists divide into two camps: 1) immediate identity beyond any subject-object structure 2) the mystical object maintaining some distinctness at the point of contact. Paul Tillich’s mystical a priori has affinities with the former, while William James’ model of religious experience coheres only with the latter. Opposing the essentialists are constructivists. After noting some ironies of the constructivist position, this article elaborates difficulties with 1) the traditional model of pure identity with the divine by certain mystics, 2) the Tillichian universal mystical awareness, and 3) the Jamesian direct perceptual model. Finally, it proposes that the human body and brain mediate mystical experience, which consists of a distinctive sense of bodily harmony conjoined with openness to the potentialities of an integrated environment, involving distinctive neurological processes.

Additional Information

Publication
Language: English
Date: 2007
Keywords
Tillich, Paul, Mystical Experience, James, William, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Essentialism, Forman, Shear, Stace, Simoni-Wastila, Transcendence of Subject-Object Structure, Mediation, Bracketing Question of a Common Core, Constructivism, Katz, Adam, Brainard, Brain Functioning, Newberg, Damasio, Edelman, Sense of Self, Body, Mystical a Priori, Perception, Short