CfP: Heidegger’s Philosophical “Overcoming” of Mysticism (Edited collection)

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Edited by Erik Kuravsky. Confirmed contributors include: Richard Capobianco, Krzysztof Ziarek, Eric S. Nelson, Holger Zaborowski, Miles Groth, Rajesh Sampath.

Call for Proposals
Heidegger’s Philosophical “Overcoming” of Mysticism: Addressing the Enigma of Being and Human Existence
Editor: Erik Kuravsky (University of Erfurt)

Despite John Caputo’s well-known exposition of the “mystical element” in Heidegger’s thought, Heidegger himself adamantly rejected the concept of mysticism. He viewed it as little more than an ambiguous contrast to Western rationalism, thus aligning it with the very philosophy it purportedly sought to counter rather than providing a thoughtful alternative. Nevertheless, Heidegger’s philosophy is occasionally criticized for its perceived mystical character, rather than being recognized as a construct of rigorous philosophical inquiry. An archetypal reproach, as voiced by Carnap, asserts that phrases such as “the nothing nothings” are not just mystical, but rather outright nonsensical.

The present solicitation for proposals is directed at the creation of an academic anthology centered on the mystical facet present in Heidegger’s philosophy. The objective is threefold: firstly, to move beyond Caputo’s narrow delineation of this aspect, specifically concerning its connection to religious thought; secondly, to showcase Heidegger’s intellectual rigor in areas that transcend traditional conceptual analysis; and thirdly, to explore the extent and reasons behind the potential reference to Heidegger’s mysticism. By doing so, this anthology intends to highlight Heidegger’s thought as an exemplary instance of the quasi-mystical essence that underpins the discipline of philosophy itself.

In Phaedo, Socrates articulates his view that true philosophers are akin to mystics. Plato, far from suggesting an appeal to an irrational and ineffable source of wisdom, encapsulates two fundamental tenets of philosophy as he perceives it: Firstly, philosophy involves thinking transcendence rather than solely analyzing immediate experiential aspects (i.e., the shadows on the cave’s wall in the Republic). Secondly, philosophy requires a profound change in one’s existence and understanding (akin to liberation from the “cave”), rather than being limited to intellectual discourse within the confines of that cave.

To differentiate the theme of the current collection from mysticism in its religious or overtly irrational context, the editor proposes a definition for a distinctly philosophical mysticism: it signifies philosophy’s inherent dedication to both transcendence and transformation. This dedication, seen from various angles, resonates with the core of Heidegger’s overarching philosophical stance. Specifically, the editor proposes a Heideggerian re-evaluation of the Greek terms μύω and μυστικός, which underpin the concept of “mysticism,” and advocate for their detachment from any notion of a “mystical initiation.” In terms of Heidegger’s “philosophical mysticism,” the term μύω shall represent an initiation into thinking, thereby effecting a distinct transformation within those engaged in it. This perspective coincides with Heidegger’s viewpoint that philosophy is not merely a theoretical pursuit. It necessitates not a traditional “introduction,” but rather an initiation into philosophizing. The term μυστικός might be seen as pertaining to the concealment of Being itself, involving an ontological difference that goes beyond the conventional separation between entities and their beingness. Together, these two components establish the “mystical” essence inherent in the act of thinking itself, rather than segregating thinking from the realm of “mysticism.”

Within this perspective, the current invitation for proposals aims to explore essays that thoroughly examine following aspects of Heidegger’s philosophical perspective:

  • An in-depth exploration of Heidegger’s unconventional and non-conceptual interpretation of language. How can the inherently self-concealing nature of Being be articulated, and what role does this articulation play within the realm of philosophical thought?
  • Investigating the performative nature of thought in Heidegger’s philosophy. How does Heidegger establish the fundamental significance of human transformation in the context of philosophy? Furthermore, how does his own philosophical framework contribute to such transformative processes?
  • Unraveling the enigmatic nature of Being as conceived by Heidegger. What sets Heidegger’s portrayal of the enigma of Being apart from religious interpretations of the mystery surrounding God, as well as from traditional metaphysical perspectives on the transcendence of reason, spirit, life, and more?
  • Examining the “mystical” quality inherent in human experience. Can a thorough phenomenological analysis of human existence furnish evidence supporting the idea that human being defies reduction to a mere “rational animal”? In essence, does the “concealed” and the transcendent innately form part of our everyday encounters?
  • Posing the question of whether Heidegger’s philosophy can serve as a non-religious, philosophically grounded foundation for reevaluating mysticism itself. Can it potentially enable a reinterpretation of mysticism, i.e., its “overcoming” without dismissing it as mere nonsense?
  • Investigating whether Heidegger’s thought evolves over time towards a more authentic expression of the enigmatic character of Being?

Confirmed contributors include: Richard Capobianco, Krzysztof Ziarek, Eric S. Nelson, Holger Zaborowski, Miles Groth, Rajesh Sampath.

Please send an abstract including a suggested topic and your central arguments (up to 300 words) with a short bio/CV to Erik Kuravsky at [email protected] by December 4. 2023. Notification of acceptance during December 2023. Once a well-structured and proficient compilation is selected, the editor will then approach academic publishers that are the most appropriate and renowned in the field.