The Problem of Pure Consciousness
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The Problem of Pure Consciousness : Mysticism and Philosophy

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This is a paperback reprint of a collection of contributed essays about mysticism and philosophy. It challenges the widely accepted interpretaion of mystical experience that received its fullest expression in two volumes edited by Steven T. Katz: Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis (OUP 1987) and Mysticism and Religious Traditions (OUP 1983). According to Katz and his colleagues, mystical experience, can be explained as the constructed and mediated product of previously held beliefs and concepts. On this view, there is no such thing as 'universal' mystical experience. The present volume attempts to show that there is a single type of mystical experience that cuts across cultural and linguistic lines. This is the experience of 'pure consciousnes,' a state in which the subject remains conscious but experiences neither thought, sensation, feeling, nor object of consciousness. Part I of the book demonstrates that there are well-attested reports of pure consciousness events occuring in a wide variety of ages and traditions, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. The essays in Part II consider the philosophical implications of these reports, arguing that there are no logical blocks to the claim of pure consciousness events.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 318 pages
  • 139.7 x 213.36 x 25.4mm | 408.23g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0195109767
  • 9780195109764
  • 892,064

Review quote

A useful contribution to the literature, and should help to foster an ongoing dialogue on the topic. * Philosophy East & West *show more

Back cover copy

Are mystical experiences formed by the mystic's cultural background and concepts, as 'constructivists' maintain, or do mystics sometimes transcend language, belief, and culturally conditioned expectations? Do mystical experiences differ throughout the various religious traditions, as 'pluralists' contend, or are they somehow ecumenical? The contributors to this collection scrutinize a common mystical experience, the 'pure consciousness event'--the experience of being awake but devoid of intentional content--in order to answer these questions. Through the use of historical Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and Jewish mystical writings, as well as those of modern mystics, the contributors reveal the inconsistencies and inadequacies of current models, as make significant strides towards developing new models for the understanding of the mystical phenomenon in particular and of human experience in general.show more

About Robert K. C. Forman

Robert K.C. Forman is Associate Professor of Religion at City University of New York's Hunter College, and author of six books and numerous articles on religion and religious experiences.show more

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