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A Philosophical Analysis of Religious Experience.

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A Philosophical Analysis of Religious Experience. ' A religious experience is a non-empirical occurrence, and may even be perceived as supernatural. A religious experience can be described as a 'mental event' which is undergone by an individual, and of which that person is aware. Such an experience can be spontaneous, or it ay be brought about as a result of intensive training and self discipline.' This is one definition of the term religious experience, however there are many varied definitions, which can conjure up slight confusion and different philosophers, have different definitions making the overall definition very vague. 'Religious experiences are perceived by many people as experiences of the supernatural, for example like heaven, angels or even God.' The religious experience argument is a classic a posteriori argument, which seeks to establish of the Divine, or the other that God or some transcendent reality does, indeed exist. The argument from religious experience starts from the premises that all our knowledge of the world relies upon existence. ...read more.


It can be claimed that religious experiences are so different from normal experiences not just because of its object but because such experiences regulate the whole of a person's life that it cannot be judged like normal, ordinary experiences. Religious experiences are not universal like ordinary experiences; not everyone can experience them. Humans use the same conceptual scheme when they describe an ordinary experience. An example of this is that regardless of culture we would all describe a tree in the same way. However, with a religious experience, though the feeling may be similar the object is different. In conclusion, religious experiences have different interpretations in different cultures. Another main difference between an ordinary experience and a religious experience is that a religious experience cannot be checked, an ordinary experience is open to checking because it can be seen by others. 'Religious experiences give insight into the unseen whereas the ordinary gives no insight into other realms.' Types of Religious Experience. ...read more.


Most religious experiences are said to be mystical. This means that the recipient feels a sense of 'union' with the Divine. Their are some religious experiences that are classified as 'prayer' experiences. This usually refers to experiences that have been brought about by meditation and reflection. However, there are some effects of religious experiences that can be permanent and life changing. Such experiences are often classified as 'conversion' experiences. Mystical Experience. This term is extremely versatile, and has been used to convert everything from the experiences of the Great Mystics of each religious tradition to mysterious occurrences. There are many different definitions of the term mysticism. '...belief in the possibility of union with the Divine nature by means of ecstatic contemplation; reliance on spiritual intuition or exalted feeling as the means of acquiring knowledge of mysteries inaccessible to intellectual apprehension.' (Oxford English Dictionary) 'Mysticism is the art of union with Reality. The mystic is a person who has attained that union in a greater of lesser degree; or who aims at and believes in such attainment.' (E.Underhill- quoted by F.C. Happold) 'Mysticism involves the spiritual recognition of truths beyond normal understanding.' ...read more.

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