Secularization of/or Mysticism: Notes on Richard H. Jones’ Philosophy of Mysticism

  • Zsuzsanna Szugyiczki


Serious mysticism is dying, while superficial spirituality is increasing. It is part of a larger process in modernity, in which people have lost sight of the ontic dimension of reality. Richard H. Jones takes these categorical positions regarding the understanding of mysticism in contemporary society in his recent monograph, entitled Philosophy of Mysticism. This standpoint is articulated as part of the idea of the secularization of mystical experiences in the epilogue.


The idea is briefly and vaguely introduced by Jones, therefore, firstly, I am putting this concept under a scrutiny, through analyzing five key phrases of the epilogue: secularization, modernity, the concept of classical mysticism, todays mystical phenomena and the future of mysticism. Secondly, I am clarifying the idea of the secularization of mystical experiences aiming to provide a more nuanced understanding of mysticism as a contemporary phenomenon. Thirdly, I am pointing out some fairly common, dated and problematic views in academia related to the theory of secularization i.e. closely linking the decline of religiosity to modernity and applying a rigid dichotomy of sacred and secular when analyzing modern religious phenomena. Lastly, regarding the scientific study of mystical experiences, I am proposing questions leading towards further, more thorough investigations, as well as the use of the theory of religious pluralism which is able reflect on the fluidity of modern mystical phenomena.[1]


[1] This research was supported by the project nr. EFOP-3.6.2-16-2017-00007, titled Aspects on the development of intelligent, sustainable and inclusive society: social, technological, innovation networks in employment and digital economy. The project has been supported by the European Union, co-financed by the European Social Fund and the budget of Hungary.