Enlightenment East and West

by Leonard Angel

Suny Press 1994

This book shows that mysticism is incomplete without scientific rationalism, and that our current social and political projects cannot be completed without assimilating the values and practices of mysticism.

It develops a comprehensive ethical framework whose vocabulary will be immediately recognizable to people of all cultures, and which permits fruitful dialogue to take place between people no matter how divergent their backgrounds and values. It then develops a novel theory of mystical experiential types, and uses that theory to show that mystical experience is of fundamental importance for the philosophy of mind and value theory. The book also suggests a new view of the relationship between religious life and ethical life, mystical practice and social process, science and mysticism, and of the directions of history.

"To anyone who has thought vaguely about the contrasting ideals of ideological East and West, this will be an enormously exciting book. There has been nothing on the subject so clearly written, so comprehensive, and so wise. Angel faces head-on the difficulties involved in reconciling reason and mysticism and constructs a surprisingly plausible case. His argument for the view that each of the two traditions needs the insights of the other is one that neither side can honestly ignore."  - Ronald de Sousa, University of Toronto

"This is a major work in comparative and cross-cultural philosophy. It would be hard to over-stress the importance of the issues discussed and the manner in which Angel formulates his thinking...My sense is that this work could be exceptionally useful: in graduate schools in philosophy and religious studies, in seminaries, with advanced undergraduate students in many fields (Woman's Studies, Philosophy, Asian Studies, History of Ideas, Religious Studies, cross-cultural Communication Studies, Peace Studies, etc.). The work is rich with new and surprising formulations, with exemplary summations of complex issues, and rigorous formulations that issue in strong claims. The entire manuscript succeeds in showing a new path that permits a synthesis of diverse traditions and philosophical styles largely unexplored at this time. I find the work 'seminal'. I would expect it to command a wide readership and provoke a great deal of discussion and writing." - Robert Garvin, State University of New York, Albany

"This is a book with delightfully surprising insights for readers interested in our present cultural and religious situation as well as its future." - Julia Ching, University of Toronto

"This is a remarkable and provocative book. I hope it will unsettle many minds. . . Contrary to Stephen Katz, Angel shows that we are not bound by concepts of the self or the world which our particular culture provides us. Contrary to Walter Stace, he shows that the six alternative ways of finding the self and the world do not require us to contravene or transcend the laws of logic.. . . His brilliant suggestion is that the much-discussed common core of mysticism is to be found not in the substantive claims made about the self or the nature of reality, but in the discovery that we have this type of flexibility in how we identify ourselves. . . Angel's book is a deep and wonderful contribution to a rich appreciation of our ignorance about the self and reality at large. Socrates would surely approve." -Bob Litke, Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Revue, 36:4, Fall 1997, 870-73