Phenomenology and Mysticism

Phenomenology and Mysticism

The Verticality of Religious Experience
Anthony J. Steinbock
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/22/2009
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-22181-0
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Winner of the 2009 Edward Goodwin Ballard Prize in Phenomenology

Exploring the first-person narratives of three figures from the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic mystical traditions—St. Teresa of Avila, Rabbi Dov Baer, and Rzbihn Baql—Anthony J. Steinbock provides a complete phenomenology of mysticism based in the Abrahamic religious traditions. He relates a broad range of religious experiences, or verticality, to philosophical problems of evidence, selfhood, and otherness. From this philosophical description of vertical experience, Steinbock develops a social and cultural critique in terms of idolatry—as pride, secularism, and fundamentalism—and suggests that contemporary understandings of human experience must come from a fuller, more open view of religious experience.

Author Bio

Anthony J. Steinbock is Professor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He is author of Home and Beyond: Generative Phenomenology after Husserl and editor-in-chief of Continental Philosophy Review.


“Providing a full phenomenology of mysticism based in the Abrahamic religious traditions, Steinbock opens a broad range of religious experiences, or verticality, to the many philosophical problems of evidence, selfhood, and otherness.”

“Steinbock embarks on a full explication of three central dimensions of human experience; in doing so, he takes up and embodies the phenomenological project envisioned by Edmund Husserl.”
 — Choice

“Phenomenology and Mysticism stands out as an original work in a genre too often reduced to commentaries on classical figures. Steinbock is an acute phenomenologist in his own right, and this work sets a new standard for the interaction between phenomenology and theology/religious studies.VOLUME 35.1 MARCH 2009”
 — Andreas Nordlander, Lund University, Sweden

“. . . an incredibly rich book about the phenomenology of mystical experience in the Abrahamic traditions, a book that will certainly be required reading for anyone working in the areas of religious experience and the intersection between theology and philosophy, especially in the continental tradition.Vol. 31 2009”
 — Andreas Nordlander, Pneuma Jrnl Society for Pentecostal Studies

“A single short review of this treatise suggests a light approach which does not [do] justice to this profound work. The thoughts and insights gathered and proposed by Steinbock provoke an equally concerted response and offer topics for discussion on many different disciplinary levels.”
 — Philosophy in Review

“Broader contributions from Phenomenology and Mysticism rest in careful engagement with philosophical phenomenology, not simply as a descriptive method, but as a coherent disciplinary field with potential theoretical resources to address ranges of phenomena beyond those that are typically evoked.Vol. 9 December 2008”
 — Janet Borgerson, University of Exeter

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Vertical Givenness in Human Experience
1. The Religious and Mystical Shape of Experience
2. St. Teresa of Avila and Mysticism of Prayer
3. Rabbi Dov Baer and Mysticism of Ecstasy
4. Rzbihn Baql and Mysticism of Unveiling
5. Matters of Evidence in Religious Experience
6. Epiphany and Withdrawal
7. On Individuation
8. Idolatry
Epilogue: On the De-Limitation of the Religious and the Moral

Glossary of Main Hebrew and Arabic Terms