Mysticism Examined

Philosophical Inquiries into Mysticism

By Richard H. Jones

Subjects: Comparative Religion
Series: SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
Paperback : 9780791414361, 304 pages, July 1993
Hardcover : 9780791414354, 304 pages, July 1993

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Table of contents



Part I. Mysticism and Knowledge

1. Experience and Conceptualization in Mystical Knowledge

2. Knowledge and Unknowing in the Isa Upanisad

Part II. Mysticism and Reason

3. Rationality and Mysticism

4. The Nature and Function of Nagarjuna's Arguments

Part III. Mysticism and Language

5. A Philosophical Analysis of Mystical Utterances

Part IV. Mysticism and Science

6. Concerning Joseph Needham on Taoism

Part V. Mysticism and Theology

7. The Religious Irrelevance of the Ontological Argument

Part VI. Mysticism and Psychology

8. Concerning Carl Jung on Asian Religious Traditions

Part VII. Mysticism and Ethics

9. Must Enlightened Mystics Be Moral?

10. Theravada Buddhism and Morality


Selected Bibliography



Mysticism presents a challenge to anyone who is interested in fundamental questions about the nature of reality, knowledge, and how we should live. In this book the author examines questions posed by mysticism. He clarifies the nature of the claims advanced by Western and Asian mystics, and explores the beliefs and values of classical mystical ways of life for their interconnections and reasonableness. Jones discusses whether all mystical experiences and all mystical claims of knowledge are similar, and examines the relation of concepts and experiences in mystics' claims. Also presented are standards for evaluating competing mystical claims, and mystics' problems with language. Whether mystics' arguments are rational is investigated along with the relation of moral and non-moral values and the role of beliefs and values in enlightened mystics' ways of life. Mysticism's relation to the enterprises of science, theology, psychology and ethics is also examined.


"The value of the book lies in the author's ability to draw connections between the work of mystics and contemporary debates in epistemology, the philosophy of science and philosophical psychology. " — David Wisdo, Susquehanna University