Religious Studies


Concepts and religious experiences: Wayne Proudfoot on the cultural construction of experiences


a1 Department of Religious Studies, Box 1927, Brown University, Providence, RI, 02912, USA


The constructivist position, that mystical experiences are determined by the experiencer's cultural context, is now more prevalent among scholars of religion than the perennialist position, which maintains that mystical experiences have a common core that is cross-culturally universal. In large part, this is due to the efforts of Wayne Proudfoot in his widely accepted book, Religious Experience. In this article, I identify some significant unresolved issues in Proudfoot's defence of constructivism. My aim is not to defend perennialism, but to specify some objections to the constructivist thesis that constructivists need to address more adequately.


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