Scholars Lock Horns

Paul Marshall

in Mystical Encounters with the Natural World

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

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This chapter classifies mystical epistemologies into five types (direct contact, post-Kantian, mediatory, radical contextualist, naturalistic), and examines two competing perspectives on mystical experience. On the one hand, radical contextualists such as Bruce Garside and Steven Katz have claimed that mystical experience is largely a product of indoctrination and enculturation and is therefore conservative. On the other hand, deconstructivists such H. N. Wieman and Arthur Deikman have supposed that mystical experience depends on a deconditioning or reconditioning of experience that allows new insights to emerge. The latter position envisages a content-rich, nondual state of awareness that is to be distinguished from the contentless pure consciousness of Stace and Forman. Weaknesses in the contextualist case are brought out, and the deconstructivist position is found to be more appropriate for extrovertive experience and its circumstances. However, a simple deconditioning of experience is insufficient to explain the more complex extrovertive features, and further insights must be sought elsewhere.

Keywords: epistemology; radical contextualism; constructivism; Garside; Katz; nondual awareness; deconstruction; Wieman; Deikman

Chapter.  10182 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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