Mysticism Without God

Issue 1703

12 April 2017

“Mysticism presents itself as the space where a speculative study of religious facts meets the need to live religious experience in the milieu of the advanced secularism of western society.1

The men and women of our secularized society still live under the action and sign of rasonnierende ffenlichkeit (public reasoning) of Kantian memory, which makes the truth the result of a rational, discursive and collective work of the whole of humanity. This does not mean that this culture of formal rationality, typical of the Enlightenment, is not today undermined by the return of the irrational and of individualism, or by the natural tendency of man toward the magic sense of things and to symbolic function. This is how secular analysts explain the current interest in mysticism.

Not being able to accept as true the interpretation which Catholic theology gives of mysticism, they explain the mystical experience as a reaction to the crisis of culture derived from the Enlightenment: a simplistic reaction of those who want to overcome the opposition between religious experience and reason, perhaps after struggling with it themselves. “If postmodernity, as the time of the end of the Enlightenment myths, is witnessing the return of the religious and new demand for meaning, it is also undergoing the charm of those spiritual realities that express the desire for creativity and selfdiscovery beyond the disappointments and failures attributed to reason.2

It was Norberto Bobbio who recognized that “because the great answers are beyond the reach of our mind, man remains a religious being, despite all the demythologizing processes of secularization, all the claims of the death of God that characterize the modern age and even more so the contemporary age.3

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