Classical Theism, Philosophy, and Religion Forum

You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?

3/19/2016 6:34 am  #1

Philosophers and their religious experiences

In regards to religious experience, Philosophers have had very interesting visions that have drastically altered their lives. Anselm was able to be convinced of an Abrahamic God instead of a Philosopher's God, Aquinas stopped working on Summa and labeled his entire workload as straw. It's not only limited to Christianity of course as Mulla Sadra had a deep religious experience that allowed him to develop his transcendental argument and various Vedic philosophers have had similar experiences. I know it's futile to attempt to interpret their visions but doesn't that make religious experience a bit defective in our attempts to understand the mystical aspect of theism since they can often provide conflicting views?


3/19/2016 7:58 am  #2

Re: Philosophers and their religious experiences

I do not know what sorts of mystical experiences people might have outside of the Christian world (not denying that there are, but simply that I am ignorant of their content or nature), but I do not think that conflicting views in itself renders mystical religious experience as defective.  It could simply be a matter of interpretation of those experiences.  In general, conflicting views does not necessarily negate a whole way of acquiring knowledge; it only implies that one must be sure that he is evaluating what he perceives correctly.  A rough analogy would be that you have many conflicting philosophical schools of thought, and even a few conflicts within classical theism.  This does not mean that reasoning and philosophy itself is faulty; it would at most imply that many people at some point did not reason or philosophize correctly.  I can similarly fathom people having  visions or experiences who also might have been wrong about what those visions and experiences are supposed to mean. 

More specifically, to begin with, do you have any examples of known mystical experiences that present conflicting views of God?


3/19/2016 1:38 pm  #3

Re: Philosophers and their religious experiences

CS Lewis wrote about this in a letter to a friend that was published as Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer.  His position seems to be the correct one to me:

The following position is gaining ground and is extremely plausible. Mystics (it is said) starting from the most diverse religious premises all find the same things. These things have singularly little to do with the professed doctrines of any particular religion—Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Neo-Platonism, etc. Therefore, mysticism is, by empirical evidence, the only real contact Man has ever had with the unseen. The agreement of the explorers proves that they are all in touch with something objective. It is therefore the one true religion. And what we call the “religions” are either mere delusions or, at best, so many porches through which an entrance into transcendent reality can be effected—And when he hath the kernel eate,Who doth not throw away the shell?I am doubtful about the premises. Did Plotinus and Lady Julian and St. John of the Cross really find “the same things”? But even admitting some similarity. One thing common to all mysticisms is the temporary shattering of our ordinary spatial and temporal consciousness and of our discursive intellect. The value of this negative experience must depend on the nature of that positive, whatever it is, for which it makes room. But should we not expect that the negative would always feel the same? If 89 wine-glasses were conscious, I suppose that being emptied would be the same experience for each, even if some were to remain empty and some to be filled with wine and some broken. All who leave the land and put to sea will “find the same things”—the land sinking below the horizon, the gulls dropping behind, the salty breeze. Tourists, merchants, sailors, pirates, missionaries—it’s all one. But this identical experience vouches for nothing about the utility or lawfulness or final event of their voyages—It may be that the gulfs will wash them down,It may be they will touch the Happy Isles.I do not at all regard mystical experience as an illusion. I think it shows that there is a way to go, before death, out of what may be called “this world”—out of the stage set. Out of this; but into what? That’s like asking an Englishman, “Where does the sea lead to?” He will reply “To everywhere on earth, including Davy Jones’s locker, except England.” The lawfulness, safety, and utility of the mystical voyage depends not at all on its being mystical—that is, on its being a departure—but on the motives, skill, and constancy of the voyager, and on the grace of God. The true religion gives value to its own mysticism; mysticism does not validate the religion in which it happens to occur.I shouldn’t be at all disturbed if it could be shown 90 that a diabolical mysticism, or drugs, produced experiences indistinguishable (by introspection) from those of the great Christian mystics. Departures are all alike; it is the landfall that crowns the voyage. The saint, by being a saint, proves that his mysticism (if he was a mystic; not all saints are) led him aright; the fact that he has practised mysticism could never prove his sanctity.

(That's Chapter 12 in my edition)


Board footera


Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum