Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


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From: SAINTS, SOVEREIGNS AND SCHOLARS:ESSAYS IN HONOR OF FREDERICK D. WILHELMSEN, ed. R. A. Herrera, J. Lehrberger, O. Cist, & M.E. Bradford (NY: Peter Lang, 1993).


Copyright (c) 1993 E. Wilhelmsen.


We propose to examine here two renowned champions of mysticism, Plotinus and St. John of the Cross. The former, the third-century Greek philosopher from Alexandria in northern Egypt, is the father of Neoplatonism. The latter, the sixteenth-century Castilian Carmelite, is known as reformer of his order, as theologian, as mystic, and as sublime poet of divine love. Both figures can be described, above all and specifically, as mystics: that is, as practitioners of mysticism and, at the same time, as theoreticians of mysticism. There is shared by both one dominating concern and objective: personal, experiential union with the transcendent Other, with the Absolute. For both, furthermore, this concern is positively central to their writings, as it was central to their historical lives. We propose to compare their respective understandings of mysticism, beginning with their striking points in common and continuing with their more subtle and more profound divergencies.