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WAiINWRIGHT, MARI'.rAIN, AND AQUINAS ON TRANSCENDENT EXPERIENCES1 Lours RoY, O.:P. Boston College Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts WHAT COULD ALLOW thoo1ogiianis to s1ay that rbrtanJScendent expmiences we, exiplicitly or implicitly, expenienoos of God? To ooswieir tMs question fully, one would ihavie Ibo ooga;ge in :two d:iisltmot mqumi1es. Fiirsit, religious , moml, iand psyoho101 giical icristeci:a 1are required in the evtalurution of concrete oases. They ctan he found in rthe grerut spi:ritUJal wriitings of humankind. Secood, one mustt have reOOUTISe to ep;iisttemo1ogiica:l :and thieo1ogiaa1 foru.ndmbions if one wianits 1to 1an.swer questtion in. its generality. ln ,thJi:s a:riticle, I shall not preserut 1tihe religious, moral, 1and psychofogica1 criteria , because I sihou1d Jrike to OOiilCelllb:iaJte on mrueillecrtUJal prohliems invohiimg tihe sooond kmd of ·consideration. I shiaill use ais 1a ISl'bar:bing-pomt 1a book on mys:ticism written by Wiilliiam J. W1ainwcight. Turr tihe purposes of ttihis ess:ay, "trlanJScenidelllt experiences" wiilil. mean whmt W1affin:WI"ight calls " mystical experienoos " or " uniJtM"Y srbrubeis." 2 The phvase wi:ll. ailso inclUJde Otito'1s " nu:minoUJs etpeirieinces," Mrusforw's " peak expeme:nces" and, vecy hrorudJy, wll experiences that do not :focus on 1a, specific tidea :but afiectively open up to the mySltery wll:uich enoompas1ses hruman li£e. 1 I am grateful to the members of the Boston Theological Society for their questions and comments on the initial version of this essay. 2See his definition, in Mysticism: A. Study of Its Nature, Cognitive Value and Moral Implications (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1981), IS . The rest of his first chapter offers a good discussion of problems of typology as well as of the distinction between descriptions and interpretations of mystical experiences. Unfortunately I cannot take account of this interesting discussion in the limits of this paper. 655 656 LOUIS ROY, O.P. In conrtending thrut my:stical experieTIJces ihav;e nnetic v:al,idity if they are ra speciiaI kind of perception, W ainw~igrhit tries to 'Settle an 1:epis1temo10-gicra1l is1sue; ill downplaying "doctrina1l con- .sideration:s" and iJn rejeobing ",a thieo1ogical op~nion whioh cannoit he esbaiblished ihy philosoplhi1oal rea1s10n," 3 he suggesit,s 1bhat his oolJJ!teTIJtiion can 1and should he 1supp01rted only by philosophioal a11gumelJJ!t1s. In thi'S esisay, I intend 1to ques1truon thi:s two.fo1d 1tlhesis of Wwinwrrtiight'1s 1and to explore an albernartive. Wa:inwright, whose manner of dea1ing wirbh iinitellectuaJ proh1ems 1acoo,rds with \the p11esent-day main lme in Ang1o-American philosophy of re1i§ion,4 non:ebheless pays metiiculou:s a.trbention Ito neoscho1a1s1tic theori!es of mys1tiioism in Chapter 4 of his hook. Such 1an a;t1t:empt 1at serious diJalogue is of specia,l :intel'es1t since :i:t illu:stria1tes the diffioulty of finding a mee1ting ground for three qUJite different scho1w1·Jy wo,rlds: the p0:s1t-rpie1t~st one, wihich I regard a,s W,ruinwr.ighit'·s, modern sohoilais1t1icrsm, and Thomas Aquinas. A1though W1a1inwr1igh1t does not refer 1 to the lat:ter's views on the .topic, these views nev:erthe1e:s,s de:serve examination bo1th 1a1s the sou11oe of neoscho:iJa,stic 1theorie1s and 1as conti :ia:sting in 1s1 evera1 111espects wiith ,them. The first pa~t of my paper will sketch three of the intellec1tuaJ contexits in which triam:soendefll!t experi!enoes may be discussed . The second part will highlight some features of Aquinrus's episitmnology and theo1ogy of gmce which whll enable us fo dertel'ITl!iDJe 1 at whait levels of cogn:iition experienceis of 1t11amiscendence should be s]tua1ted 1 and in what 1s1ense they may rbe s1aid to he experielll!ceis of God. 'Iihe third rpart wm presie111t how Thomais envisages the role of love :in 1the affective knowledge tha1t rbe1ieviers i;eceiive of God. F1inailly, the fomlth pamt will indicrabe the modial~ty of such lmowledge, namely, the dimect a1iva:renerss of orur aets and fee1ings of 1ove. a Wainwright, 162-163 and 180. 4 Exemplified by such authors as John Hick, Stephen Katz, Ninian Smart, Walter T. Stace, R. C. Zaehner. TRANSCENDENT EXPERIENCES 657 I. Three lnterprretative Contexts Since Schleiermadher, moist German...


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