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Infinite Paths to Infinite RealitySri Ramakrishna and Cross-Cultural Philosophy of Religion$
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Ayon Maharaj

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190868239

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190868239.001.0001

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A Cross-Cultural Defense of the Epistemic Value of Mystical Experience

A Cross-Cultural Defense of the Epistemic Value of Mystical Experience

Sri Ramakrishna, Self-Authentication, and the Argument from Experience

(p.196) 6 A Cross-Cultural Defense of the Epistemic Value of Mystical Experience
Infinite Paths to Infinite Reality

Ayon Maharaj

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores how Sri Ramakrishna’s mystical testimony and teachings enrich contemporary analytic debates about the epistemic value of mystical experience. These debates center on a key question: are we warranted in taking mystical experiences—either our own or those of others—to be veridical? After briefly delineating Sri Ramakrishna’s views on the scope of theological reason, Maharaj argues that Sri Ramakrishna’s mystical testimony lends strong support to the philosopher Robert Oakes’s position that self-authenticating experiences of God are possible. The remainder of the chapter focuses on the argument from experience, the argument that it is reasonable to infer God’s existence from the testimony of people claiming to have experienced Him. Maharaj draws on Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings and mystical testimony in order to bolster contemporary philosophical defenses of the argument from experience. He contends, moreover, that Sri Ramakrishna’s distinctive approach helps defuse two serious objections to the argument from experience: namely, lack of adequate cross-checkability and the conflicting claims objection.

Keywords:   Sri Ramakrishna, mystical experience, responsible fideism, religious epistemology, self-authentication, argument from experience, Robert Oakes, Richard Swinburne, Jerome Gellman, William Alston

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