Legacy Lost: The Ecstasy Deficit in Modern Philosophy
Presented at the Pacific Division, American Philospohical Association, March 2013. Follow the link above to this paper thus summarized:
Western philosophy has a vital inheritance from mythological cults that emerged out of Shamanic mists and yielded both the great tragic plays and the power of mystery religions.
This legacy informed philosophy’s effort to understand the nature of things and provided ongoing inspiration for philosophy as a way of living. Over time, however, philosophy progressively inclined toward purely intellectual endeavor. Subordinated to theology during the Middle Ages, it lost the core experiential connection cultic ritual had evoked and developed toward its modern post Cartesian exercise.
The direct spiritual experience that inspired philosophy finally became shunned as primitive magic. Philosophy is now “haunted” by religion because it has distanced itself from direct experience of animate, divine nature (physis). To recover that distance, philosophy needs to be informed by ecstatic experience.