The volume will be of interest to students of religious experience, ethics, and the recent history of mysticism. Carefully reasoned and documented, the argument is couched in clear prose, easily accessible to lay readers as well as to scholars.
Does it follow that saints are perfect people? Is there a common vision that impels them to seek holiness? In a controversial interpretation of mysticism Horne suggests that there is no single formula for the meaning of life and no one story that displays it to us. Mysticism, rather than being just a visionary perception, then becomes a problem-solving process that brings about a creative transformation of the personality at a critical stage in life. He suggests also that saints may be imperfect morally and describes true saints as double-minded: they are serious in a playful way.
Mysticism and Vocation illuminates our understanding of saintly lives by explicating their mystical characteristics and extending discussions of mysticism to explain its role in active lives. In discussing important decisions that go beyond conventional morality, it adds to recent philosophical arguments by Charles Taylor, Alasdair MacIntyre, Iris Murdoch, Bernard Williams and others to the effect that morality should be defined more broadly to deal with the human condition.
This book will be of interest to students of philosophy and religious studies, in both graduate and undergraduate programs.
The book draws on phenomenology (Heidegger), gender studies (Beauvoir, Butler) and contemporary neuroscience to present a new approach to the history of modern identity. It surveys existing approaches to modern selfhood (Foucault, Charles Taylor) and proposes an alternative account by investigating late medieval mysticism, in particular texts written in Germany by Meister Eckhart and others in the same milieu.
Reactions to the condemnation of Meister Eckhart's teaching for heresy in 1329 offer a microcosm of the circumstances in which something like the modern self arises as people change their behavior toward others, toward themselves, and toward what they call "God." The book makes Meister Eckhart and his contemporaries appear as our contemporaries by changing the assumptions with which we approach our own identity.
To make this change requires a revision of current vocabularies for approaching ourselves, and in particular the vocabulary and habits inherited from psychoanalysis. The book finishes by exploring the parallel between late medieval confessors and their spiritual charges, and late-nineteenth-century psychoanalysts and their patients. The result is a renewed vision of the Freud's project of finding a vocabulary for acknowledging and nurturing our everyday commitments to others and to our spiritual longings.