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