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Numinous
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{{short description|Arousing spiritual or religious emotion; mysterious or awe-inspiring}}{{other uses}}{{distinguish|Noumenon}}{{refimprove|date=December 2015}}Numinous ({{IPAc-en|ˈ|nj|uː|m|ᵻ|n|ə|s}}) is a concept derived from the Latin numen meaning "arousing spiritual or religious emotion; mysterious or awe-inspiring".Collins English Dictionary -7th ed. - 2005 The term was popularized by the German theologian Rudolf Otto in his influential 1917 German book Das Heilige, which appeared in English as The Idea of the Holy in 1923.

Origins

Numinous was derived in the 17th century from the Latin numen, meaning a "deity or spirit presiding over a thing or space". It describes the power or presence or realisation of a divinity. It is etymologically unrelated to Immanuel Kant's noumenon, a Greek term referring to an unknowable reality underlying all things.

Popularization

The word was popularized by the German theologian Rudolf Otto in his influential 1917 book Das Heilige, which appeared in English as The Idea of the Holy in 1923.BOOK, Otto, Rudolf, Gregory D., Alles, Autobiographical and Social Essays,weblink 1996, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, {{ISBN, 3-11014519-7, |isbn=978-3-110-14519-9|quote=numinous.}} Otto writes that while the concept of "the holy" is often used to convey moral perfection – and does entail this – it contains another distinct element, beyond the ethical sphere, for which he uses the term numinous.BOOK, Otto, Rudolf, The Idea of the Holy, 1923, Oxford University Press, 0-19-500210-5,weblink 31 December 2016, {{rp|5–7}} He explains the numinous as a "non-rational, non-sensory experience or feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self". This mental state "presents itself as ganz Andere,Otto, Rudolf (1996). p. 30. wholly other, a condition absolutely sui generis and incomparable whereby the human being finds himself utterly abashed."JOURNAL, Alice L., Eckardt, A. Roy, Eckardt, The Holocaust and the Enigma of Uniqueness: A Philosophical Effort at Practical Clarification, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 450, 1, 165–178, Sage Publications, July 1980, 10.1177/000271628045000114, 1042566, P. 169. Cited in: BOOK, Dan, Cohn-Sherbok, Dan Cohn-Sherbok, A Traditional Quest. Essays in Honour of Louis Jacobs,weblink 54, 1991, Continuum International Publishing Group, London, {{ISBN, 0-56752728-X, |isbn=978-0-567-52728-8}} Otto argues that because the numinous is irreducible and sui generis it cannot be defined in terms of other concepts or experiences, and that the reader must therefore be "guided and led on by consideration and discussion of the matter through the ways of his own mind, until he reach the point at which 'the numinous' in him perforce begins to stir... In other words, our X cannot, strictly speaking, be taught, it can only be evoked, awakened in the mind."{{rp|7}} Chapters 4 to 6 are devoted to attempting to evoke the numinous and its various aspects. Using Latin, he describes it as a mystery () that is at once terrifying ((wikt:tremendum|tremendum)) and fascinating ((wikt:fascinans|fascinans)).Otto, Rudolf (1996). Mysterium tremendum et fascinans. He writes:
German philosopher and theologian|url=https://www.britannica.com/biography/Rudolf-Otto|encyclopedia=Encyclopædia Britannica Online|accessdate=24 October 2016}}{{rp|12–13}}}}
C.S. Lewis described the numinous experience as follows in The Problem of Pain:, see weblink, accessed 19 October 2015.}}

References to the concept

Otto's use of the term as referring to a characteristic of religious experience was influential among certain intellectuals of the subsequent generation.WEB, Louis Karl Rudolf Otto Facts,weblink YourDictionary.com, Encyclopedia of World Biography, 24 October 2016, ENCYCLOPEDIA, Alles, Gregory D., Otto, Rudolf, Encyclopedia of Religion, Farmington Hills, Michigan, Gale (publisher), Thomson Gale, 2005,weblink 6 March 2017, For example, "numinous" as understood by Otto was a frequently quoted concept in the writings of Carl Jung,Jung, "Collected Works" vol. 11 (1969), "A Psychological Approach to the Dogma of the Trinity" (1948), ¶222-225 (p.149). and C. S. Lewis. The notion of the numinous and the wholly Other were also central to the religious studies of the ethnologist Mircea Eliade.BOOK, Mircea, Eliade, Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane. The Nature of Religion,weblink 1959, 1954, Translated from the French by Willard R. Trask, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, Introduction (p. 8),weblink's+Das+Heilige+(The+Sacred),+published+in+1917,+still+persists%22, {{ISBN, 0-15679201-X, |isbn=978-0-156-79201-1}}ENCYCLOPEDIA, Sarbacker, Stuart, Rudolf Otto and the Concept of the Numinous, Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Oxford University Press, August 2016,weblink 18 February 2018, Mysterium tremendum, another phrase coined by Otto to describe the numinous,{{rp|12–13}} is presented by Aldous Huxley in The Doors of Perception in this way:}}In a book-length scholarly treatment of the subject in fantasy literature, Chris Brawley devotes chapters to the concept in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in Phantastes by George Macdonald, in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and in work by Algernon Blackwood and Ursula Le Guin (e.g., The Centaur and Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight, respectively).Brawley, Chris (2014). Nature and the Numinous in Mythopoeic Fantasy Literature, e.g., p. ix and passim, Vol. 46, Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Palumbo, D.E. & Sullivan III, C.W.), Jefferson, NC, USA: McFarland, {{ISBN|1476615829}}, see weblink, accessed 17 October 2015.In his 2007 book God Is Not Great and in subsequent interviews and debates, New Atheist author Christopher Hitchens used the term numinous favorably.NEWS, Looseley, James, Opinion: Christopher Hitchens taught us to think freely about religion,weblink 18 September 2018, Montreal Gazette, 13 December 2015, After interviewing him, Marilyn Sewell wrote that he "us[ed] words like numinous and transcendent and soul"—quoting him as saying, "Everybody has had the experience at some point when they feel that there's more to life than just matter"—but said that he emphasized separating this from clerical or otherworldly authority.JOURNAL, Sewell, Marilyn, Was Christopher Hitchens Religious?, Huffington Post, February 21, 2015,weblink The neuroscientist Christof Koch has described awe from experiences such as entering a cathedral, saying he gets "a feeling of luminosity out of the numinous," though he does not hold the Catholic religious beliefs with which he was raised.WEB, Paulson, Steve, The Spiritual, Reductionist Consciousness of Christof Koch,weblink Nautilus, 22 April 2019, 6 April 2017,

See also

{{wiktionary}}

References and notes

{{Reflist|30em}}

Further reading

  • Otto, Rudolph (1917). Das Heilige - Ãœber das Irrationale in der Idee des Göttlichen und sein Verhältnis zum Rationalen. Breslau.
  • BOOK, Otto, Rudolf, The Idea of the Holy, An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and its Relation to the Rational, 1923, Transl. of Das Heilige, Oxford University Press, 0-19-500210-5,weblink 31 December 2016,
  • Gooch, Todd A. (2000). The Numinous and Modernity: An Interpretation of Rudolf Otto's Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 293, Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, Berlin, DEU: Walter de Gruyter, {{ISBN|3110167999}}, {{ISSN|0934-2575}}, see weblink. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  • Duriez, Colin (2003). Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship, pp. 1, 179-180, Mahwah, NJ, USA: Paulist Press, {{ISBN|1587680262}}, see weblink. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  • Allen, Douglas (2009). "Phenomenology of religion" (§ "Rudolf Otto") in The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion, 2nd Ed. (Hinnells, J. Ed.), pp. 192f, 182-207, and passim, Abingdon, Oxon, ENG, {{ISBN|0415333105}}. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  • Brawley, Chris (2014). Nature and the Numinous in Mythopoeic Fantasy Literature, e.g., pp. 71–92 (Ch. 3, "'Further Up and Further In': Apocalypse and the New Narnia in C.S. Lewis's The Last Battle") and passim, Vol. 46, Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Palumbo, D.E. & Sullivan III, C.W.), Jefferson, NC, USA: McFarland, {{ISBN|1476615829}}, see weblink. Retrieved 17 October 2015. [Critical treatment with extensive reference to and use of the title concept.]
  • Oubre, Oubre (2013). Instinct and Revelation: Reflections on the Origins of Numinous Perception, Abingdon, Oxon, ENG: Routledge/Taylor & Francis, {{ISBN|1134384815}}, see weblink. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  • Miranda, Punita (2018). "Numinous and Religious Experience in the Psychology of Carl Jung" in Diálogos Junguianos/Jungian Dialogues, Vol.3, No.1, 110-133, see weblink. Retrieved 31 August 2018.


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