Essays In Phenomenological Theology

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174), and that they have adopted a vocabulary for talking about the experiences that will suit this purpose.

But in light of the language of “spiritual sensations” we may (with Pike) doubt that this is the right way to understand the Christian mystical tradition.

We lack a relevant vocabulary, he argues, because we cannot construct any simple correlation between a range of “stimulus conditions” for mystical perception and the kinds of experience that are likely to arise under those conditions.

And therefore we cannot refine a vocabulary for the description of mystical experience by replication of relevant conditions and renewed attention to the phenomenology of the experiences that occur under those conditions.

In other words, even if (perhaps especially if) mystical perception is veridical, we should not expect to have such a vocabulary.

Accordingly, the absence of the vocabulary cannot be thought to constitute an objection to the good epistemic standing of such experiences.

This entry examines the relevance of phenomenological considerations for the concept of God (or the sacred otherwise characterised) and the question of what sort of rational sense is implied in the adoption of a religious point of view.

The discussion distinguishes various perspectives on the subjective character of religious experience, and examines the relation between religious experience and experience of the material world.

And does the affective phenomenology of religious experience do any epistemic work? William Alston (1991, Chapter 1) has noted that we don't have a well-developed vocabulary for the description of the phenomenal qualia of “mystical” experience.

(Compare William James's suggestion that “mystical” experiences are “ineffable”: 1902, p.


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