By Murdoch, Iris; Murdoch, Jean Iris; Woolf, Virginia; Woolf, Adeline Virginia Stephen; Lazenby, Donna J.; Woolf, Virginia; Murdoch, Iris
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Additional info for A Mystical Philosophy: Transcendence and Immanence in the Works of Virginia Woolf and Iris Murdoch
76 Chambers’ popular definition of the mystical resonates with those general misconceptions which Jantzen identifies as the inheritance of a Romantic epistemology. ’77 But we can reverse the post-Enlightenment prioritisation of certainty over mystery, and re-engage a mystical epistemology. The first part of this chapter has given a critical presentation of recent treatments of mysticism in the writing of Virginia Woolf. I have argued that such treatments fail to do justice both to Woolf ’s own description of key moments of her creative vision as mystical, and the complex and various conceptions of mysticism with which her writing will, in due course, be seen both intentionally and unintentionally to engage.
I believe these illnesses are in my case – how shall I express it? ’109 Partly mystical: to which she attributes, as with Russell’s definition, the sudden wholeness of her intuitive vision. Woolf ’s treatment of the mystical in these instances conveys, consistently with the insights of previous studies of her work, a deep scepticism of naïve or comforting visions of unity, completeness, order, or the suggestion of an arch-narrative for life. The extent to which such reservations constitute a genuine critique of the kind of mysticism with which the next part of this study will be concerned, will become clear.
The following section will explore the significance of Woolf ’s aesthetic departure from her contemporary philosophical and aesthetic influences, particularly where this departure reveals, in its rejection of reductive analyses of human experience, a vision inviting her into conversation with traditional mystical insights: insights which are particularly relevant for current interdisciplinary discussions in theology, philosophy of religion and literature. The shape of Woolf ’s departure from these influences – a departure partly defined by her engagement with, and reaction to, her contemporaries’ conceptions of mysticism – will strongly resemble the shape of our divergence here from Marcus’, Goldman’s and James’ accounts of the mystical.
A Mystical Philosophy: Transcendence and Immanence in the Works of Virginia Woolf and Iris Murdoch by Murdoch, Iris; Murdoch, Jean Iris; Woolf, Virginia; Woolf, Adeline Virginia Stephen; Lazenby, Donna J.; Woolf, Virginia; Murdoch, Iris