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DOI 10.12887/31-2018-4-124-05

Natalia STENCEL – A Mystical Fall? The Phenomenon of the ‘Dark Night of the Soul,’ as seen in the Linguistic Context

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This article is an attempt at consolidating research results on the subject of the mystical experience of the ‘dark night of the soul’ in the linguistic context. Marks of the ‘dark night of the soul’ in the sense conveyed by St. John of the Cross may be found in numerous mystical texts and the phenomenon as such has been described as an experience of the collapse of language in face of a sacred reality. The paper shows that such a collapse is embedded in the very morphology of a mystical experience. The main theoretical assumptions of the considerations refer to the contextual method of studying mystical texts proposed by Steven T. Katz. The most important hypothesis refers strictly to the possibility of a ‘morphology of the sacred.’ The ‘dark night of the soul,’ being a means to spiritual and moral progress on the way to sainthood, simultaneously manifests a quality inherent in the very essence of the epistemological aspect of the mystical experience. The collapse of language is therefore one of the most important elements of the experience of the mystical ‘dark night.’ However, even in the case of the mystical experience the collapse of language is not unequivocal and total: having returned to his world, the mystic turns to language in order to speak out the unspeakable despite being aware that it will never be possible.


Keywords: ‘dark night of the soul,’ mystical experience, mysticism, contextualism, the sacred, language


Contact: Katedra Filozofii Poznania, Wydział Filozoficzny, Uniwersytet Papieża Jana Pawła II, ul. Kanonicza 9/203, 31-002 Cracow, Poland
E-mail: natalia.stencel@doctoral.edu.pl
Phone: +48 12 3708608

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» 124_Stencel.pdf

  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. e-ISSN 2720-5355
  3. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 100.00
  4. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  5. DOI Prefix 10.12887