Was de naturalist en rationalist Spinoza tegelijk ook een mysticus? [10] de casus Tania Norell

Dit wordt het op één na voorlaatste blog van mijn tour d’horizon langs auteurs over dit onderwerp. Daarbij vond ik ook Tania Norell’s Bachelor thesis aan het Centre for Theology and Religious Studies aan de Lund Universiteit in Zweden uit 2011, getiteld Spinoza - A Rational Mystic. Geen vraagteken, gewoon een bewering die ze in haar studie hoopt te onderbouwen.

‘rationeel mysticisme’
Eerst even iets over de term ‘rationeel mysticisme’, die op het eerste gezicht toch iets weg heeft van een oxymoron: een combinatie van tegenstrijdige termen. Ze zouden voor het eerst in deze samenvoeging in 1911 door Henry W. Clark gebezigd zijn in een artikel in Harvard Theological Review. De theosoof William Kingsland kwam in 1924 met Rational mysticism: a development of scientific idealism. *)

De pragmatisch filosoof John Herman Randall Jr. van de Columbia University zag in Hellenistic Ways of Deliverance and the Making of Christian Synthesis (1970) Socrates, Plato, Aristoteles als filosofen die a religion founded on reason, not revelation. This is the great glory of the Hellenistic Schools, that they taught a rational religion, a liberal religion. He refers to the Greek philosophers preceding the Skeptics as "men seeking personal peace and freedom by intellectual methods, by thinking, by finding the truth.
Randall zag naast Plotinus ook Spinoza als “rationalists with overtones of rational mysticism.” **)

Jeffrey J. Kripal, definieerde in Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom (2001), rationeel mysticisme als “not a contradiction in terms” maar “a mysticism whose limits are set by reason.”

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Tania Norell, Spinoza - A Rational Mystic, Bachelor thesis aan de Lund Universiteit in Zweden

Abstract: Is Spinoza a mystic? Spinoza´s philosophy clearly relates to the concept of understanding God, through the self, so it is not hard to see why it has been argued that he may have been a mystic. On the other hand, it makes no sense at all since he is considered to be one of the most rational philosophers of the Modern Age and Spinoza´s God is neither transcendent nor supernatural and therefore he is considered an atheist. The problem as I see it is; how can such a rational man even be considered to have anything to do with mysticism which traditionally is considered to be a personal, subjective, emotive, religious experience of a transcendent God, which today does not qualify as being rational in any scientific sense of the word? What has prompted my curiosity is the seeming contradiction of combining the rational label with a perceived mystical sensibility. In my analysis I investigate the possibility of a correlation between the definitions of the terms rational and mystic through the understanding of rationalism and mysticism. I will delineate how they have been understood through history and discuss how they can be understood. I will explain Spinoza´s concept of God and through the lens of Spinoza´s philosophy see if it is possible to get an understanding of what effect a union of the two concepts can have. The purpose of this essay is not to find proof as to be able to label Spinoza as a mystic within the mysticism of his time, but rather to get an understanding of what a relationship with God, through Spinoza´s monist concept of God as One Substance, can entail and thereby maybe widen the frame of what a mystic can be considered to be. My question is thus: Is Spinoza a Rational Mystic? [Bachelor thesis, cf. - PDF]

Wel interessant is hoe ze uitgebreid ingaat op en zich keert tegen de benadering van Steven Nadler in zijn artikel “Spinoza and Philo: The Alleged Mysticism in the Ethics,“ [Zie ook dit blog over Philo]. Daarin stelt hij: “there is no mysticism in Spinoza´s philosophy.” En daarin gaat zij dus maar gedeeltelijk mee.

Wie geen gelegenheid heeft het hele stuk te lezen, raad ik aan in ieder geval § 4:3 Is Spinoza a mystic? (p. 33 - 38) te lezen - dat is goed op zichzelf te doen – en haar slotparagraaf 6.[=5.] Conclusion; daaruit citeer ik deze passage.

“Spinoza is thus not a rationalist or a mystic within the framework of their traditional definitions, because how can you be a rational mystic if the rational part demands proof and the mystic part deals with that which cannot be proven? Yes, it can be argued that Spinoza uses his rationality to prove God´s existence because in Ethics I p11 he states that God necessarily exists. The difference, as I see it, is that that existence is not something unknown that we have to relate to as something other, but instead it is something known that we can understand as to be able to relate. In other words, there is no union of two but instead an understanding of the one.” (p. 39)


Over ‘rationeel mysticisme’

*) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_mysticism

**) Over Randall in:
Jack Cottrell, What the Bible Says About God the Redeemer. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000 –

Kevin R. D. Shepherd, BARUCH SPINOZA, RATIONALIST PHILOSOPHER. Gaat uitvoerig in op zijn "rational mysticism” [cf.]

Frits Staal gaat er in Exploring Mysticism (1975) [books.google] van uit dat mysticisme rationeel-wetenschappelijk onderzocht kan worden.

Ik wijs nog even op Lewis Samuel Feuer die mysticisme heel breed nam. Volgens hem trachtte Spinoza mysticisme en logica samen te smelten, waardoor het werd een (je zou verwachten rationeel mysticisme, maar Feuer noemt het): pantheïstisch mysticisme. In Lewis Samuel Feuer, Spinoza and the Rise of Liberalism. Transaction Publishers, 1987 [books.google] lezen we in "Introduction," p XXVI:

“Mysticism has been taken, since Spinoza's time, as consisting mainly in experience of union with, intuition of, or direct knowledge of God. Spinoza thought that an "intuitive science" enabled us to advance from adequate ideas of the attributes of God to a direct apprehension of the essences of things, and thereby bringing the "highest joy." Wittgenstein's definition of mysticism as the sense of the whole is derivative from Spinoza's. Such a sense of the whole, however, presumably is given only to those few persons who may have conceived or mastered a cosmology—a Newton, Laplace, Einstein, or Eddington. A sense of the whole becomes itself more and more problematic as rival cosmologists contend among each other upon, for instance, the bearing of Hubble's Law that the distant galaxies are receding with a velocity proportional to their distance from us. In our time, "steady-state" cosmologists have been guided by a very different intuition of the whole from that of the "big bang" theorists. The "sense of the whole" seems, furthermore, to evoke the "oceanic feeling" that Romain Rolland found genuine among Eastern mystics, but whose actual givenness in experience Freud disputed. Perhaps another sense of mysticism is far more ultimate; it pertains to the sense that every person has, to begin with, that no complete determinist explanation of his choices is possible, and that we feel an inexplicable residue in the self that lies beyond causal laws. If the "mysticism of the whole" sought to obliterate the individual, and thereby to merge him with God, the "mysticism of free will" makes his ultimate borders inviolable. This sense of mysticism fortified William James throughout his stand against the determinists. Freud briefly took it as his therapeutic basis when he asserted that the aim of psychoanalytical understanding was "to give the patient's ego freedom to decide one way or the other.”
Hij heeft een uitgebreid hoofdstuk over Spinoza:”Revolutionist in Mystic Withdrawal.”