Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.


Print

Contents

Mysticism, history of

DOI
10.4324/9780415249126-K050-1
DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K050-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved December 15, 2019, from https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/mysticism-history-of/v-1

Article Summary

Contemporary authors generally associate mysticism with a form of consciousness involving an apparent encounter or union with an ultimate order of reality, however this is understood. Mysticism in this sense, it is argued, can be found in virtually all cultures and religious traditions, and is perhaps as old as humanity itself. None the less, there is no agreement on the identifying characteristics of mystical states; the term ‘mysticism’ and its cognates have undergone long evolution and been used in a bewildering variety of ways.

Such ongoing disputes about the nature and significance of mysticism only underscore both the challenge and the importance of studying its history. On the one hand, without consensus on a definition, scholars disagree on which texts and figures merit inclusion in a historical survey of mysticism. On the other hand, arguments about whether mystical experiences are ‘everywhere the same’ can hardly be settled apart from attention to the historical evidence.

Print
Citing this article:
Payne, Steven. Mysticism, history of, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K050-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/mysticism-history-of/v-1.
Copyright © 1998-2019 Routledge.

Related Searches

Topics

Regions

Religions

Related Articles