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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Monday, July 15, 2013


At the conclusion of A FINAL PARTING OTTO-SHOT I wrote:

... my formulation of three "sympathetic affects"-- "admiration" as a parallel to "fear," "fascination" as a parallel to "dread," and "ecstasis" as a parallel to "awe"-- is more properly a response to Lewis than to Otto. But in my final anslysis both scholars' formulations suffer due to a mutual overemphasis of the antipathetic affects.

As I've contemplated the term "ecstasis," I find that it doesn't make a good parallel to "admiration" and "fascination."  The latter two terms describe affects, but "ecstasis" can be deemed as much a cognitive as well as an affective state.  Whether one does or does not believe that there exists any sort of ecstatic state through which a human being can commune with a higher power-- a concept that seems to offend the Lutheran Rudolf Otto-- the word does connote that potential.

As it happens, though, Otto himself utilizes a word that fits the level of emotional engagement which befits those sympathetic to the marvelous-metaphenomenal, when he speaks of "the shamanistic ways of procedure, possession, indwelling, self-imbuement with the numen in exaltation and ecstasy."  Unlike "ecstasy," "exaltation" dominantly implies a purely affective state of mind.  Following my tendency to view "awe," then, as implying an antipathetic affect toward the marvelous-- one in which the subject feels himself abased by or otherwise separated from the marvelous-- "exaltation," in line with Otto's disapproving view of magicians and mystics, satisfying connotes the affect of sympathizing, and even taking part in, the marvelous.  Thus from now on it should be understood that the three categories of the NUM formula are thus distinguished in their affective aspects:

THE NATURALISTIC-- antipathetic aspect FEAR, sympathetic aspect ADMIRATION

THE UNCANNY-- antipathetic aspect DREAD, sympathetic aspect FASCINATION

THE MARVELOUS-- antipathetic aspect AWE, sympathetic aspect EXALTATION

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