, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 133–134 | Cite as

Review of Peter Chong-Beng Gan, Dialectics and the Sublime in Underhill’s Mysticism

Springer Singapore, 2015, ISBN: 978-981-287-483-2, hb, x+243pp.
  • Jerome GellmanEmail author

Gan has written an interpretation of Evelyn Underhill’s, Mysticism: The Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness (1911). Gan aims to clarify Underhill by applying Kant’s notion of the ‘sublime’ (as noun) and a somewhat modified Hegelian ‘dialectics.’ Neither of these appears in Underhill’s work. Dialectics is applied to mystical progression from illumination to darkness and then to union, and from individuality to universalism and back to individuality. Gan aims to ‘bind’ Christian mysticism to the Kantian ‘sublime.’

This reviewer found the use of ‘dialectics’ to be of great help in avoiding some of the apparently contradictory claims of mystics. These claims should be understood dialectically (223). Focusing on Kant was less helpful to this reader. Kant defines the ‘sublime’ as: (Gan, p. 52):

The sublime is that in comparison with which all else is small…. The sublime is that, the mere ability to think which, shows a faculty of the mind surpassing every standard of Sense…....

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ben-Gurion University of the NegevJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.The Australian Catholic University- SidneyMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations