Mysticism and Experience: Twenty-First-Century Approaches embarks on an investigation of the concept of mysticism from the standpoint of academic fields, including philosophy, anthropology, religious studies, mysticism studies, literary studies, art criticism, cognitive poetics, cognitive science, psychology, medical research, and even mathematics. Scholars across disciplines observe that, although it has experienced both cyclical approval and disapproval, mysticism seems to be implicated as a key foundation of religion, alon with the highest forms of social, cultural, intellectual, and artistic creations. This book is divided into four sections: The Exposure, The Symbolic, The Cognitive, and The Scientific, covering all fundamental aspects of the phenomenon known as mysticism. Contributors, taking advantage of recent advances in disciplinary approaches to understanding mystical phenomena, address questions of whether progress can be made to systemically enrich, expand, and advance our understanding of mysticism.
Alex S. Kohav teaches in the Department of Philosophy at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Introduction: Unutterable Experiences of Consciousness Alteration
PART I. THE EXPOSURE
1.Manifestations of Shamanic Spirituality: Mongolia 1999, 2002
Eva Jane Neumann Fridman
2. Theoneurology: Bridging Hebrew Bible Prophecy and Clinical Psychedelic Drug Research
Rick Strassman, MD
PART II. THE SYMBOLIC
3.Materializing the Symbolic in Paranormal Experience
4.Words and Images of a Transcendent Inner Mysterion: Mysticism in Contemporary Western Literature and Art
Ori Z. Soltes
PART III. THE COGNITIVE
5.The Dao Flickering through Words: A Cognitive-Poetic Analysis of Dao-de Jing
Sivan Wagshal Te’eni and Reuven Tsur
6. Why Are Religious Experiences Ineffable? The Question of Mystical-Noetic Knowledge
Laura E. Weed
7.Toward a Cognitive Psychology of Mystical Experiences
Harry T. Hunt
PART IV. THE SCIENTIFIC
8. Explanatory Mechanisms of Altered States of Consciousness: A Brief Overview
Alex S. Kohav
9.Mathematical Modeling of Cognitive Mechanisms of Meaning and the Spiritually Sublime
Leonid I. Perlovsky
10. Transcendent Knowledge-Claims and the Scientific Study of Mystical Experiences
Richard H. Jones
About the Contributors
Any person interested in mysticism will find this book of great value. Although writing about mystical experiences can be likened to “sending a kiss by mail,” there is much to be learned from the essays here. The book covers topics ranging from the anthropology of Mongolian shamanism to psychedelic drugs, symbolic aspects of mystical experiences and attempts to communicate such experiences, attempts to scientifically explain mystical states, and questions of the very possibility of such explanations. Important and provocative questions are raised: What sort of experiences count as “mystical?” Of the variety of such experiences, how can they be explained? Are there only physiological and psychological grounds or is there a transcendent reality that is contacted during mystical experiences? If a transcendent reality, how is it that it appears different to different people? How can such experiences be described if they are ineffable? And, what difference might there be between a mystical experience and the ordinary experience of our everyday world?
This book is a vast, profound, and modern approach to mysticism. The high-level researchers and authors participating in the book come from philosophy, spiritual studies, cognitive sciences, art studies, psychiatry, and literature, bringing authentic and meaningful interdisciplinary approach to the subject.