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Document Details :

Title: Eckhart, Fénelon & the Question of the Subject
Subtitle: On Self and Selflessness in Early Modern Mysticism
Author(s): DE KESEL, Marc
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 30    Date: 2020   
Pages: 183-211
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.30.0.3288718

Abstract :
On the inner journey of a mystic, everything revolves around a fight against his own self. In order to become one with God, the mystic has to eliminate that very self. Yet, as is obvious in so many spiritual oeuvres, this struggle invariably shows the particularly strong self that concerns it. The Ego is the mystic’s biggest obstacle, but who else but the Ego is able to clear this obstacle? This paper offers a close reading of some fragments from the work of two mystical authors, Meister Eckhart and François de Fénelon, the one premodern, the other modern. It will become clear how each has a different experience of the paradox of mysticism. That difference, it will turn out, is precisely due to the paradigm each of these mysticisms presupposes. The slowness and patience that comes with a close reading also allow the reader to penetrate the sharp line of reasoning that characterizes many mystical texts. Despite the reputation that precedes these texts, the rationality they demonstrate is often just as unfathomable as it is sharp-witted.

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