Volume 2014, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2218-7480
  • EISSN:


The question whether or not God can be known or defined is central to Christian mysticism. On this topic, the writings on mysticism by the French Catholic priest and Jesuit, Michel de Certeau (1925-1986) are especially relevant and challenging. De Certeau was one of the most creative interdisciplinary thinkers of the late twentieth century as well as a highly original writer in reference to Christian mysticism. At the same time, de Certeau is particularly difficult to summarise or to interpret definitively. To begin with, he approached every subject from a transdisciplinary standpoint, drawing extensively upon history, theology, spirituality, cultural theory, politics, philosophy, psychoanalysis and the social sciences. De Certeau’s deliberately enigmatic style was also based on his underlying approach to epistemology – that is, to the nature of knowledge, its scope and its origins. Overall, de Certeau rejected what he saw as the dangers of philosophical fundamentalism that he detected in some aspects of European post-Enlightenment thought, notably a tendency towards rationalist positivism. Thus de Certeau questioned both the extent to which anything can really be fully known and also whether “knowledge” is reducible merely to a mental capacity to think logically or to make rational deductions about reality. Clearly this standpoint is particularly relevant to the question of whether, to what extent and how an ultimately mysterious God may be “known” or defined and plays a central role in his late, unfinished work on Christian mysticism, The Mystic Fable.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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