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, Professor of Religion & Department Chair (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP )
Web Site:

Abstract: The nature of mystical experience has been hotly debated. Essentialistsdivide into two camps: 1) immediate identity beyond any subject-object structure 2)the mystical object maintaining some distinctness at the point of contact. PaulTillich’s mystical a priori has some affinities with the former, while William James’model of religious experience coheres only with the latter. Opposing the essentialistsare constructivists. After noting some ironies of the constructivist position, thisarticle elaborates difficulties with 1) the traditional model of pure identity with thedivine by certain mystics, 2) the Tillichian universal mystical awareness, and 3) theJamesian direct perceptual model. Finally, it proposes that the human body and brainmediate mystical experience, which consists of a distinctive sense of bodily harmonyconjoined with openness to the potentialities of an integrated environment, involvingdistinctive neurological processes.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Mystical experience, James, William, Tillich, Paul, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Essentialism, Forman, Shear, Stace, Simoni-Wastila, Transcendence of subject-object structure, Advaita, Mediation, Bracketing question of a common core, Constructivism, Katz, Adam, Brainard, Kaplan, Brain functioning, Newberg, Damasio, Edelman, Sense of self, Body. Mystical a priori, Perception, Short

Email this document to

Has the following version:

TitleLocation & LinkType of Relationship
Negotiating the Nature of Mystical Experience, Guided by James and Tillich described resource has a version, edition, or adaptation of the related resource.