Paul Marshall

in Mystical Encounters with the Natural World

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780199279432
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603440 | DOI:

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This chapter sets the scene for the two major topics under investigation, extrovertive mystical experiences (Part I), and their explanation (Part II). The experiences are introduced by means of some examples and a preliminary attempt at definition: the experiences can be called ‘mystical’ because they bring a sense of unity, knowledge, and reality, and they are ‘extrovertive’ because they are orientated towards the natural world. The study of intense and unusual experiences is defended against critics. A historical survey previews the many ways in which extrovertive experience has been explained. Transpersonal, contextual, and intrapersonal contributions to mystical experience are distinguished, and various types of explanation are identified, reductionistic and non-reductionistic. A place for metaphysical enquiry in the study of mystical experience is affirmed, and the benefits and drawbacks of a scholar‘s insider familiarity with mystical experience are noted.

Keywords: mystical experience; mysticism; extrovertive; types of explanation; transpersonal; contextual; intrapersonal; naturalistic; reductionism; metaphysics

Chapter.  6927 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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