Toward an epistemology of mysticism: Knowing God as mystery
International Philosophical Quarterly
While some philosophers suggest that mystical experience may provide evidence for belief in God, skeptics doubt that there is adequate warrant for even accepting the claim of a mystical experience as evidence for anything, except perhaps for some kind of mental instability. Drawing from the work of Gabriel Marcel, I argue that the pervasive philosophical skepticism about the evidential status of mystical experiences is misguided because it rests on too narrow a view about ways of knowing and about what can count as evidence for belief in the divine. I illustrate the advantages of Marcel's approach by applying it to the respective spiritual journeys of Augustine of Hippo and Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali. I then argue that Marcel's framework improves on contemporary analytic approaches because it captures more accurately the kind of knowledge that mystical experiences convey as reported by the subjects who claim to have them.