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Modern European Mysticism and Psychological Thought

Hebrew University of Jerusalem via Coursera

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In the revival of mysticism today, mysticism has become more psychological while psychology is increasingly interested in mysticism. This course will provide an entry into the complex world of modern mysticism, through studying its psychological thought. We shall begin with exploring the interpretations of mystical experience offered by psychoanalysts in the twentieth century, starting with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung and ending with contemporary thinkers such as James Hillman. However, we will see that the European mystical traditions, including Kabbalah in the Jewish world and those of the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant worlds, developed their own elaborate systems of psychological thought. Thus, we will mostly examine mystical psychology on its own terms. We shall especially look at two terms that are very much in use also in general culture: the heart (as an emotional rather than a physical center!...) and the soul, looking at the unique mystical concepts of their nature and destiny and asking if there were influences and meetings between the different religions.


Lecture 1: Introduction
Mysticism: Various Approaches. Magic, Mysticism, and Psychology. The Transition to Modernity. Defining the European context. The Situation of Judaism in Modernity. Psychology.

Lecture 2: Kabbalah and Psychology
History of Kabbalah and Kabbalah Research. History of Kabbalistic Views of Psychology.

Lecture 3: Kabbalah and Psychology: Close Reading of a Text
20th Century Kabbalah and Kabbalistic Psychology. Close Reading of a 20th Century Text by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. 20th-21st Century: Later Development of Kabbalistic Schools. Discussion points: Will; Freedom; Depths; Cosmic theory; The soul.

Lecture 4: The Psychology of Hesychasm (Eastern Christian Mysticism)St. Theophan the Recluse, Turning the Heart to God. Archimandrite Zacharias, The Hidden Man of the Heart. Discussion Points: The Psychology of Sin and Repentance; Transformation; Social Psychology; Positive Psychology.

Lecture 5: The Catholic Revival and the Religion of the Heart
Quietism: Miguel de Molinos. Feminine Spirituality. The Move to America. Discussion Points: Language and Silence; Active and Passive Models of Mystical Psychology.

Lecture 6: Psychology in Protestant Pietistic Mysticism
Pietism and German Mysticism in the Early Modern Period. Jacob Böhme, Forty Questions of the Soul. Discussion points: Will; Alchemy and Psychology; Wonder; Soul; Political Angle in Psychoanalysis; Gender.

Lecture 7: Concluding Discussion
Main Themes of the Course. Mystical Psychology in the Global Contemporary Context. Psycho-Spirituality. Mysticism in Contemporary Psychology.

Taught by

Jonathan Garb


4.3 rating, based on 6 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Modern European Mysticism and Psychological Thought

  • Anonymous
    They treat Freudianism as if it was "scientific" or "true".
  • Anonymous
    I've signed up for probably 20 MOOCs in the last couple of years, and this is the only one for which I have actually watched all the videos and submitted all the assignments. The Professor is engaging and easy to understand, and the material is fascinating. Highly recommended if you have an interest in the academic study of mysticism.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent course! Using a historical historical we spanned 500 years of mysticism in a religious context and the social/technological changes that effected its psychology. The fast-pace required to fit in such wide coverage ensured a light treatment with many resources for further self-study and personal development. Top-of-the-shelf!
  • Anonymous
    I am a beginner and I found this course as a perfect foundation. I watched all the videos and try to research further with suggested reading.
  • Anonymous
    A fascinating journey into mysticism in Europe through the eyes of a Kabbalist Erudite. Unusual and very interesting.

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