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Title: Silence and Ineffability as Cognition in San Juan de la Cruz' Coplas del Mismo Hechas sobre un Éxtasis de Alta Contemplación
Author(s): McGLYNN, Michael
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 21    Date: 2011   
Pages: 193-217
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.21.0.2141950

Abstract :
This essay is an expansive (non-reductive) treatment of one poem of the Early Modern Spanish mystic San Juan de la Cruz, namely, Coplas del Mismo Hechas sobre un Éxtasis de Alta Contemplación. The refrain of this poem is a claim to transcend all knowledge through an ineffable experience. As disciplinary walls tumble. this ineffable experience bears re-evaluation with evidence from experts in pertinent fields, such as cognitive science. A case is made that Juan’s claim to know by unknowing is a feature of ordinary cognition, though perhaps his experience was an extreme case. As a corollary conclusion, it is observed that twentieth-century approaches to texts are quickly giving way to approaches that match the ‘holistic’, networked culture that characterizes contemporary society from Toledo to Taipei.

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