Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things

By Ann Taves | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO Experience ACCESSING CONSCIOUS BEHAVIOR

The debate over religious experience in the past few decades has been framed in terms of the relationship between experience and representation. With the discursive turn in the humanities, many humanists turned a suspicious gaze on the concept of experience, questioning whether it was possible to speak of experience at all apart from the way it is represented in and shaped by discourse. Within religious studies, Steven Katz (1978, 1983) and Wayne Proudfoot (1985) were two of the most forceful advocates of this constructivist view, which emphasized the role of language, tradition, and culture in constituting experience. Their work, along with that of many others who participated in the general discursive turn, sharply challenged the tacitly perennialist views advanced by many of the classical figures (for example, Otto, van der Leeuw, Wach, Eliade, and Smart) discussed in the previous chapter.

In the 1990s a group of scholars led by philosopher of religion Robert Forman responded with a new perennialism that claimed, contra the constructivists, that there were certain mystical experiences that shared underlying commonalities across time periods and traditions. Referring to themselves as “psychological perennialists,” they singled out the “pure consciousness event” as chief among these common underlying experiences (Forman 1990, 1998, 1999). During the 1990s, scholars tended to one extreme or the other; the key features of so-called religious or mystical experiences were either constituted through language, tradition, or culture or were in some sense universal, albeit perhaps only psychologically. For those holding to the former viewpoint, meaning was attributed to experience discursively; for those holding to the latter viewpoint, meaning was inherent in the experience itself.

Then, in 2000, in a special issue of the multidisciplinary Journal of Consciousness Studies, a journal he cofounded with three others in the early 1990s, Forman called for “a truce in the twenty-years' … war … between constructivists and perennialists in the study of religion.” He claimed that both sides had made some good points, but he seems to have sensed that the debate had reached a dead end. In calling on scholars of religion to drop their swords, he urged them to start reading more broadly in the burgeoning research on consciousness. Fearing that scholars of religion

-56-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 212

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.