Epistemological Framings of Mysticism: Implications for Contemporary Western Psychology

  • Lee Spark Jones


Mysticism is characterized by the spontaneous or deliberate attainment of specialized knowledge, which challenges the parameters of positivist science by virtue of its subjective and paradoxical nature. Mysticism locates the origin of knowing in the prehension of non-sensory experience, and conceptualizes reality as flux or process. Epistemological considerations of mysticism extend traditional psychological concern with mystical experience as an object of scientific inquiry. Beyond the constraints of scientism, framings of mystical knowledge from intuitionist, radical empiricist and postmodern standpoints highlight process, plurality and paradox in epistemological formulation. In a changing climate of increasing cross-cultural and interdisciplinary influence at metatheoretical levels, mysticism provokes radical epistemological re-evaluation. This is particularly necessary wherever mainstream psychology continues to limit, misinterpret or pathologize the spectrum of human experience and knowing.


Altered State Mystical Experience Epistemological Perspective Positivist Science Contemporary Psychology 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee Spark Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WollongongAustralia

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