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Self-KnowledgeA History$
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Ursula Renz

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190226411

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190226411.001.0001

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Self-Knowledge, Abnegation, and Fulfillment in Medieval Mysticism

Self-Knowledge, Abnegation, and Fulfillment in Medieval Mysticism

(p.131) Chapter seven Self-Knowledge, Abnegation, and Fulfillment in Medieval Mysticism

Christina Van Dyke

Oxford University Press

Self-knowledge is a persistent—and paradoxical—theme in medieval mysticism; union with God is often taken to involve a loss of self as distinct from the divine. Yet an examination of Christian contemplatives in the Latin West between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries who work not just within the apophatic tradition (which emphasizes the need to move past self-knowledge to self-abnegation) but also within the affective tradition (which portrays union with the divine as involving self-fulfillment) demonstrates that self-knowledge in medieval mysticism was not seen merely as something to be overcome or transcended. Instead, self-knowledge is viewed (particularly in the works of medieval women contemplatives) as an important means of overcoming alienation from embodied human existence.

Keywords:   medieval mysticism, apophaticism, self-loss, self-fulfillment, affective mysticism, Meister Eckhart, Hadewijch of Brabank, Julian of Norwich, Marguerite Porete

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