Platonic Mysticism: Contemplative Science, Philosophy, Literature, and Art

SUNY Press
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 Restores the Platonic history and context of mysticism and shows how it helps us understand more deeply the humanities as a whole, from philosophy and literature to art.
In Platonic Mysticism, Arthur Versluisclearly and tautly argues that mysticism must be properly understood as belonging to the great tradition of Platonism. He demonstrates how mysticism was historically understood in Western philosophical and religious traditions and emphatically rejects externalist approaches to esoteric religion. Instead he develops a new theoretical-critical model for understanding mystical literature and the humanities as a whole, from philosophy and literature to art. A sequel to his Restoring Paradise, this is an audacious book that places Platonic mysticism in the context of contemporary cognitive and other approaches to the study of religion, and presents an emerging model for the new field of contemplative science.

“An important work on the mystical experience delving deep into its history, particularly from the Platonic perspective. An essential text for anyone interested in mysticism and its relationship to philosophy and creative expression.” — Andrew Newberg, author of How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain: The New Science of Transformation

“The present work, the latest from the pen of Arthur Versluis, provides a trenchant, learned, and illuminating analysis of the origins of Western mysticism in the Platonist tradition, relayed through such figures as Plotinus and Dionysius the Areopagite, down through Meister Eckhart and others, while suitably excoriating the attempts of certain modern philosophers and sociologists of religion to ‘deconstruct’ it from a materialist perspective. I found it a rattling good read!” — John Dillon, author of The Heirs of Plato: A Study of the Old Academy (347–274 BC)
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About the author

 Arthur Versluis is Professor and Chair in the Department of Religious Studies at Michigan State University. He is the author of Restoring Paradise: Western Esotericism, Literature, Art, and Consciousness and Wisdom’s Children: A Christian Esoteric Tradition, both also published by SUNY Press.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Aug 16, 2017
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Pages
172
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ISBN
9781438466347
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Language
English
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Genres
BODY, MIND & SPIRIT / Inspiration & Personal Growth
BODY, MIND & SPIRIT / Spirituality / General
RELIGION / Christianity / General
RELIGION / Devotional
RELIGION / Spirituality
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The first book to reveal the history of Western sexual mysticism

• Reveals the secret sexual practices that have been used since ancient Greece to achieve mystical union with God

• Details the sects and individuals who transmitted the radical sexual practices that orthodox Christianity never completely silenced

• Distinguishes between sexual magic and sexual mysticism

Beginning with the ancient Greek Mystery traditions, Gnosticism, and the practices in early Christianity, Arthur Versluis uncovers the secret line of Western sexual mysticism that, like the Tantra of the East, seeks transcendence or union with God through sexual practices. Throughout antiquity, and right into the present day, sexuality has played an important, if largely hidden, role in religious traditions and practices. This includes not only Christian but also kabbalistic and hermetic alchemical currents of sexual mysticism, many discussed together here for the first time.

In the Mystery tradition of hieros gamos (sacred marriage) and the Gnostic tradition of spiritual marriage, we see the possibility of divine union in which sexual union is the principal sign or symbol. Key to these practices is the inner or archetypal union of above and below, the intermingling of the revelatory divine world with the mundane earthly one. Versluis shows that these secret currents of sexual mysticism helped fuel the rise of the troubadours and their erotic doctrine, the esoteric teachings of Jacob Böhme in the late 16th century, the 19th-century utopian communities of John Humphrey Noyes and Thomas Lake Harris, the free love movement of the 20th century, and the modern writings of Denis de Rougemont and Alan Watts.
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