The philosophical presuppositions of Christian meditation

Theo-philosophical anthropology and its corresponding participatory ontology

Authored by: Joseph Terry

Routledge Handbook on the Philosophy of Meditation

Print publication date:  May  2022
Online publication date:  May  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367647469
eBook ISBN: 9781003127253
Adobe ISBN:


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There are several meditative practices within Christianity that have arisen over 2,000 years of the Church’s existence. Despite the diversity of these meditative and contemplative practices within the Christian tradition, they all presuppose a certain philosophical perspective on the nature of being and reality (metaphysics) and a corresponding philosophical view of the human being (philosophical anthropology) that unites them within a common tradition. In a decisive way, Plato and the philosophical tradition that descends from him have bequeathed the metaphysical worldview, along with a philosophical anthropology, which profoundly shapes the meditative and contemplative practices within the Christian tradition. Therefore, a proper philosophical assessment of these practices within Christianity must evaluate them relative to, and within the context of, the platonic vision of reality and its corresponding understanding of the human being. These philosophical assumptions inherent within Christian meditative practices are what allow St. Augustine to state that God, the Unconditioned condition of the meditative experience, is “interior intimo meo et superior summon meo” (“higher than my highest and more inward than my innermost self”). Therefore, this chapter will investigate platonic metaphysics and its correlating anthropology as the determinative philosophical framework for meditative and contemplative practices within the Christian tradition.

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