Epiphanies: Religious Experience, Modern Fiction and the Aesthetics of the Sacred

Raymond Aaron Younis


There have been numerous attempts to give a general account of religious experience. According to some accounts, such experiences reveal or convey a sense of God or Ultimate Reality. Some thinkers suggest that such experiences manifest a state of "absolute dependence" or a sense of the ineffable. Kantians might argue thal the source is 'ens realissimum' or a noumenal self which is unknowable but which can be made an object of the moral law. Others claim that what we are dealing with are matters which can only be subjects of discourse as "flashings of insight" (Aufblitzen) and not as matters which can be rationally explicated in our language. The first part of this essay consists of a brief survey of some accounts of religious experience. The second part deals with the importance of religious experience to James Joyce's fiction and aesthetics with particular emphasis on his concept of the "epiphany". The third and fourth parts are explorations of epiphanies in the fiction and aesthetics of Dostoevsky and Faulkner.

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