MYSTICISM FINAL PAPER - Alex Cotter Arguing Mysticism...

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Alex Cotter Arguing Mysticism Final, Spring 2009 Complicating the Constructivist/Perennialist Debate: Oneness of Being and the Secret of the Soul Thematic Analysis of “Jesus Entered” and “The Word of Jesus” After comparing the medieval works of Christian mystic Meister Eckhart and Sufi master Ibn ‘Arabi, modern scholar Ian Almond was able to deduce certain ontological thematic similarities. Nonetheless, he argues that, however striking, these resemblances are not enough to qualify the claim that the two thinkers shared “a deeper core of common thought.” 1 Instead, the theological epistemology of Meister Eckhart is primarily apophatic while that of Ibn ‘Arabi is fundamentally cataphatic. Taken together, the specific texts “Jesus Entered,” one of Meister Eckhart’s German Sermons, and “The Wisdom of Prophecy in the Word of Jesus,” from Ibn ‘Arabi’s Bezels of Wisdom , illustrate these particular similarities as well as their limitations. This illustration of Almond’s claim in his textual comparison, related in this paper to the concepts of Oneness of Being and the divine secret in the soul, can be viewed as a considerable complication in the modern debate between constructivists and perennialists in the comparative study of mysticism. On the one hand, the certain similarities found in their ontological conceptions of God, the cosmos and the relationship between the two, seem to hint at the “pure consciousness” of perennialism. On the other, the theological implications of these conceptions understood by each master vastly differ; in fact, the two understandings almost completely oppose one another. These differences are a consequence of different educational backgrounds, different religious traditions, and a 1 Ian Almond, Divine Needs, Divine Illusions: Preliminary Remarks Toward a Comparative Study of Meister Eckhart and Ibn Al'Arabi (United States of America: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 263.
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myriad of other social and cultural influences, all of which support the argument of the constructivists. Instead, the comparison of “Jesus Entered” and the “Word of Jesus” seems to arguably imply an epistemology more along the lines of a kind of “partial constructivism” or a “constructivism grounded in an epistemology of enlightenment;” the idea upholding that human experience is in fact constructed by pre-experiential factors like tradition and mind-set, but postulating an unconstructed awareness, or some dimension of human experience that is not produced by these kinds of pre-experiential cultural factors. 2 Oneness of Being: How this conceptual illustration in “Jesus Entered” and “The Word of Jesus” complicates the constructivist/perennialist debate Almond notes the Oneness of God encompassing the multiplicity of creation as a recurring theme in the works of Meister Eckhart and Ibn ‘Arabi. 3
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This note was uploaded on 01/24/2011 for the course COMM 550 taught by Professor Cante during the Spring '10 term at UNC.

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MYSTICISM FINAL PAPER - Alex Cotter Arguing Mysticism...

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