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Otto, Rudolf (1869–1937)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K062-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

Rudolf Otto, an early and leading student of religious experience, was a devout Christian thinker (part theologian, part philosopher, part phenomenologist of religious experience) who was strongly influenced by the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. He held that numinous experience – experience of the uncanny that is strongest and most important in cases in which it seems to its subject to be experience of God – is unique in kind. Such experience of God, he held, occurred in both Semitic and South Asian monotheistic traditions. Recognizing the intellectual or doctrinal content of numinous experience, but influenced by Kant’s thesis that knowledge-giving concepts cannot refer beyond possible objects of sensory experience, Otto tried to remain faithful to both numinous experience and Kantian philosophy by talking about ‘ideograms’ that express the content of numinous experience but, allegedly at least, are not concepts.

Citing this article:
Yandell, Keith E.. Otto, Rudolf (1869–1937), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K062-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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