ecstasy

Linked Glossary of Terms
(references to De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, unless indicated. See concordance for correlation with pages in the New Critique. The concordance is in pdf format.)

ecstasis
ecstasy
ex-statically II, 415

NC II, 480 (animals are ex-statically absorbed by their temporal existence),

lost in time NC I, 32 (Only because we have a supratemporal concentration point are we in a position to gain a veritable notion of time. Beings that are entirely lost in time lack a notion of time).
movement out of
versetzt

Ecstasy can be contrasted with enstasy. Enstasy is centripetal, a resting in the coherence, a direction that is foundational. Ecstasy is an ec-stasis, a moving out of the stasis of enstasy.

See my 2011 article, “Enstasy, Ecstasy and Religious Self-reflection: A history of Dooyeweerd’s Ideas of pre-theoretical experience.”

Dooyeweerd speaks of enstasy in many places. But he does not often use the word ‘ecstasis.’

In pre-theoretical thought, my I-ness enters enstatically by means of its naïve intuition into the cosmic temporal coherence of experience. Only humans can do this. Other beings are ex-statically absorbed by their temporal existence (II, 415; NC II, 479-80).

These other beings have no self-consciousness because they have no supratemporal center. Dooyeweerd repeats this idea elsewhere:

In contrast to mankind, neither the inorganic elements nor the kingdoms of plants and animals have a spiritual or religious root. It is man who makes their temporal existence complete. To think of their existence apart from man, one would need to eliminate all the logical, cultural, economic, aesthetic, and other properties that relate them to man. With respect to inorganic elements and plants, one would even need to eliminate their capability of being seen (Roots 30).

Dooyeweerd does not give any reference for his use of the word ‘ex-statically’ to refer to the temporal world’s lack of a supratemporal center. But it is clear from his later writings that Dooyeweerd obtained this idea from Max Scheler’s Man’s Place in Nature (New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1962, originally published as Die Stellung des Menschen im Kosmos, 1928). For in his 1961 article, “De Taak ener Wijsgerige Anthropologie” (26 Philosophia Reformata), Dooyeweerd explicitly refers (at p. 48) to this work by Scheler in support of temporal beings being exstatically absorbed by their temporal existence. In contrast, Scheler speaks of man’s spiritual being as open to a “world.” Scheler says at p. 47 of the German edition,

Ein solches “geistiges” Wesen ist nicht mehr trieb- und umweltgebunden, sondern “umweltfrei” und, wie wir es nennen wollen, weltoffen. Ein solches Wesen hat “Welt.” Es vermag die ursprünglich auch ihm gegebenen “Widerstands’- und Reacktionszentren seiner Umwelt, in die das Tier ekstatisch aufgeht, zu “Gegenständen” zu erfassen, ohne die Beschränkung, die diese Gegenstandswelt oder ihre Gegebenheit durch das vitale Triebsystem und die ihm vorgelagerten Sinnensfunktionen und Sinnesorgane erfährt.

[The spiritual being, then, is no longer subject to its drives and its environment. Instead, it is “free from the environment” or, as we shall say, “open to the world.” Such a being has a “world.” Moreover, such a being is capable of transforming the primary centers of resistance and reaction into “objects.” The animal remains immersed in them “ecstatically.”) Such a being is capable of grasping the qualities of objects without the restriction imposed upon this thing-world by the system of vital drives and the mediating functions and organs of the sensory apparatus.] (as translated in the English translation, (New York: Noonday Press, 1962, p. 37).

It is clear from p. 11 of the same English translation that for Scheler, ‘ecstatic’ means the inability to report back to a center. Plants are totally outwardly directed, and lack even the primitive reporting back to a center of animal life.

To be sure, Dooyeweerd criticizes Scheler’s view of Spirit [Geist] as being an absolutization of the Gegenstand-relation, in that Scheler understood it in a logical sense. But there can be no doubt that Scheler’s 1928 work is the source of Dooyeweerd’s statement in the WdW about how animals are ecstatically absorbed by their temporal existence. And because man’s supratemporal selfhood is outside of time, man has a “world” that can be entered into by means of the Gegenstand-relation. For as Dooyeweerd emphasizes, the Gegenstand-relation is the entry of our supratemporal selfhood into its temporal functions (1946 Encyclopedia).

Scheler was influenced by the philosophy of Franz von Baader. And Baader also uses the words ‘ek-stasis’ and ‘true stasis.’ Like Dooyeweerd and Scheler, Baader says that humans have a supratemporal center, but animals do not. Because of this, an animal does not perceive time like we do; this also means that animals do not become bored (Elementarbegriffe 553;Zeit 27 ft.7). We share with the animals what Baader calls ‘purely outer seeing.’ Animals do not share with us the inner seeing related to our central being (Zeit 56).

Dooyeweerd says that animals lack the inner human acts of experience that are necessarily related to the ego as the transcendent centre of human existence. They lack subject-functions within the logical and post-logical modal law spheres. Within these spheres, animals can have only object functions (NC II, 114).

Dooyeweerd refers to the subjective undergoing of sense-impressions in animals. He contrasts this to man’s conscious experience. Since the human selfhood transcends cosmic time, not a single aspect of temporal reality can transcend the self-consciousness operative in all human experience (NC II, 539)..

Baader uses ek-stasis in the sense of moving out of stasis. He says that ek-stasis (ecstasy) means detachment from a given base and displacement, transport to a different region (Weltalter 375). He compares ecstasy, or being enraptured, with metastasis or being displaced. “Über den Begriff der Extasis (Verzücktheit) als Metastasis (Versetztheit).” When we are in a different realm, we are displaced or versetzt (Werke 3, 346). Usually, it is to a higher region. When we go out of time, our root-being feels lifted up, expanded (Zeit p. 42, ft. 22). These moments of extasis are a cosmic virtuality (Philosophische Schriften I, 277 ft). This cosmic virtuality in man was man’s original state before the fall, the uniting of the heavenly and the earthly by reason of the indwelling of God in him ( Philosophische Schriften II, xxviii).

As I understand Baader, we experience ek-stasis in one of two ways: the first is when we have a loving relationship or union with God (a higher region), and the second is when we move out of our enstasy to the temporal world (a lower region) (Werke 4, 276). I understand Dooyeweerd’s Gegenstand-relation as such an entering into of the temporal world. We can descend to a lower region of the seen, felt, heard and moved; or we can ascend to a higher level to the realm of the unseen (Philosophische Schriften I, 324).

As displaced or versetzt beings (those who live in both the supratemporal and temporal realms), we have the power to act in the world, by suspending our full integral being of body, soul and spirit. It is a suspension of the unity of our central principle of life [die Suspension der Vereintheit des zentralen Lebensprincips] This is the “offering up” of the integrity or native state of our being [Suspension oder Ausopferung der Gediegenheit des Seins] which he later refers to as kenosis. This suspension should not be seen as a normal or permanent situation. A real separation occurs at death. Extasis is an anticipation of death. Our normal situation is that our earthly life and our [central] selfhood are congruent. If in extasis we move out of this integral relationship, then we must restore and reintegrate our selfhood. He compares it to the dissolution of a salt crystal in a solution; its nature is not radically destroyed; it can again be made to appear. Similarly, we can be subjected to the succession of time, but then also freed from it (Philosophische Schriften I, 311-20).

Ecstasy can be experienced in both a higher and a lower region. In both cases, the other region is mirrored in our self. As I understand Baader, in our theory, we move opposite the lower realm, and we find our self mirrored in the inner nature of the temporal Gegenstand. This is a lower ecstasy [niedrigeren Extase]. It is only by means of such a lower ecstasy that man can desire a higher ecstasy (“Über die Extase oder das Verzücktzein der magnetischen Schlafredner,” Philosophische Schriften II, 4). The passage in Baader is difficult to interpret, especially since it also concerns those extraordinary “magnetic” states of hypnosis, against which Baader warns us.

In any event, Baader says we are a unity of spirit, soul and body, or a life of heart, head and belly [Herzleben, Kopfleben und Bauchleben]. In some moments we experience a temporary real life of the heart, where there is a mediation between “head and belly.” But although this state may be called ecstasy, it is rather to be understood as

…memories and prophecies of true stasis, as well as an anticipation of that integration and centering of humans, without which (as religion teaches) there can be no integration of creation itself. (Vorred. Werke 1, 412 ff; reproduced in Philosophische Schriften II, xxvii).

Thus, many of our temporal experiences, although they sometimes seem to be ecstasies, are memories and retrocipations of our true stasis, or anticipations of our future state. Now for Dooyeweerd, anticipations occur only in theoretical thought, and not in naive experience. Dooyeweerd says that in theory, we move out of the resting enstasy of naive experience, and that this is by an epoché, a refraining from the fullness of the selfhood, but he does not use the word ec-stasis to characterize this. Our logical function is in a sense separated from our selfhood, and so this is a temporary moving out of the selfhood. There is a temptation to stay there, and we must return by theoretical synthesis to the fullness of our selfhood. So he also has a corresponding idea of a good ecstasy and a bad ecstasy. The dualistic belief between body and soul arises because of the mistaken belief that the Gegenstand-relation between our logical function and its Gegenstand corresponds to a real separation. Dooyeweerd also says that at death we are separated from the full mantle of temporal functions [functiemantel].

There is an interesting discussion of extasis by C.G. Jung  in a letter to W.Y. Evans-Wentz of Feb. 9, 1939. Jung says,

I quite agree with him [Mr. Sturdy] that there are states of intensified consciousness which deserve the name “super-consciousness.” No matter how far that “super-consciousness” reaches, I’m unable to imagine a condition where it would be completely all-embracing, i.e., where there would not be something unconscious left over. Even in his ekstasis, Paul assures us that an “I” has seen. Acts 26:13. Now if his [Paul’s] ego had been completely dissolved and abolished, he never could have said “I have seen,” he might have said “God has seen,” or rather he would not have been able to tell us even about the fact that something had been seen at all. So no matter how far an ekstasis goes or how far consciousness can be extended, there is still the continuity of the apperceiving ego which is essential to all forms of consciousness. (p. 261)

Thus, according to Jung, our supratemporal selfhood can never become totally detached from our temporal ego. Jung therefore disputes the possibility of a Buddhist experience of nothingness or “Shunyata.”

Revised Sept 2/10
Ju14/11 Added reference to 2011 article; Dec 24/16