Father Joseph Marechal was a professor before specialization ruled the academy (during the first third of the twentieth century). A Jesuit, he taught rational and experimental psychology, general biology, human physiology, logic and epistemology, metaphysics and the history of philosophy. He studied nervous and mental pathology as well as legal psychiatry at various German Universities. His most important philosophical treatise articulates Thomist epistemology against the background of Kantian idealism. Yet beyond scholastic endeavor, he believed mysticism to be the completion and crown of metaphysical study. The book in hand is cousin to James' Varieties of Religious Experience
. Fr. Marechal understands ''the comparative psychology of mysticism, treated as a positive science, encounters the same perils as the comparative study of religious phenomena,'' so he begins with a hefty exposition of empirical science and religious psychology before wading into the mistier waters of the feeling of presence (including an interesting survey of mystical intuition in Neoplatonism, Yogism, Buddhism, Sufism, circa 1920 Protestantism, and the legacy of the ''great orthodox Catholic contemplatives''). Part three overviews distinctive features of Christian mysticism historically, psychologically and empirically. Also included is a study of Professor James Leuba (psychologist of mysticism and founder of Bryn Mawr's psychology department) as well as an exceptional (and timely) study of the problem of mystical grace in Islam. From our vantage point, Dover Publication's recent foray into the republication of a whole genre of intellectual and spiritual classics continues to be a roaring success.
An Eighth Day View:
An early and influential volume among the 20th-century studies of mystic psychology, this landmark survey begins with an examination of empirical science and religious psychology. It discusses the sensation of presence in mystics and non-mystics, distinctive features of Christian mysticism, and criticisms of the legitimacy of the mystic experience.