CFP - Ecstasy and Vision. Variations on a Theme from the Middle Ages to the Contemporary Age: Lo Sguardo

Submission deadline: March 15, 2021

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Lo Sguardo - Journal of Philosophy (WoS Journal)

N. XXXIII, December 2021
edited by Maria Vittoria Comacchi, Simone Guidi, Anna Rodolfi

Lo Sguardo’s 33rd issue aims at investigating the complex history of the concepts of ecstasy and vision (understood as beatific or prophetic vision) from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. The editors welcome paper proposals from scholars and researchers interested in reconstructing the many facets of the notions of ecstasy and beatific/prophetic vision in the various philosophical traditions, as well as the problems and issues they have raised, not only in the theological and epistemological domain, but also in the aesthetic-political sphere.

In its literal meaning, the term ekstasis indicates a displacement, “being out of immobility” and, thus, a state of loss, being outside oneself. As known, this notion takes on its mystical meaning in late antiquity, in book VI of Plotinus’s Enneads (although Philo of Alexandria, in Platonic-Jewish circles, had already dealt with ecstasy under different names). For Plotinus, ecstasy is the vision of a transcendent divine, “a different way of seeing”, as it implies the full union of the seeing subject, the human intellect, and the object seen, the One.

Starting from Neoplatonism, the concept of ecstasy – understood as a movement outward, and as union in and with the divine – runs through all the medieval philosophy and thought from the Arabic to the Jewish, to the Christian Philosophy, the latter especially due to the influence of Paul of Tarsus and Augustine. Depending on contexts and paradigms, the notion of ecstasy takes on different meanings. Although articulated in the wake of the visual paradigm, the Neoplatonic ecstatic experience does not necessarily coincide with a clear vision. Especially in Christian scholasticism, the concept of ecstasy is rethought in the light of the decisive question of the beatific vision and the lumen gloriae, stimulating a very important gnoseological debate, whose effects can still be found in the modernity.

In the wake of many authors – from a renewed reading of Plotinus and Thomas Aquinas – and multiple traditions, the issues of ecstasy and beatific/prophetic vision find a renewed interest in the fifteenth and sixteenth-century European and Mediterranean thought. Ecstasy now also recovers non-visual uses, and it is often reconceptualized in order to indicate the specific phenomenon in which the inner vision, of one’s own self, by a naturally divine-human intellect, precedes and founds the vision of God outside oneself.

In early modernity – also under the effect of the “mystical invasion” that stemmed from the Counter-Reformation – the concept of ecstasy seems however to still indicate an intellectual and private vision, in which the visio is placed primarily in the thinking subject’s interiority. Yet, these concepts also survive in the nineteenth and twentieth-century metaphysics, as resumptions of the ancient metaphysical model, often readapted for the attempt of overcoming the classical paradigm and/or of recovering the relationship with the otherness from a phenomenological or post-phenomenological perspective.

Researchers and scholars are invited to contribute to this issue especially proposing papers related to the following thematic lines:

  • Ecstasy and mysticism: this section shall include contributions focused on key moments of medieval and modern mysticism, with a specific focus on the role played by the concepts of ecstasy and beatific or prophetic vision.
  • Gnoseologies of ecstasy: this section welcomes papers dedicated to gnoseological theories related to the beatific or prophetic vision and ecstasy, from the Middle Ages to modernity.
  • Metaphysics of ecstasy: this section will collect contributions aimed at dealing with metaphysical aspects and uses of ecstasy and beatific or prophetic vision, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. 
  • Aesthetic-political uses of ecstasy: this section welcomes contributions dedicated to the aesthetic-political aspects of ecstasy and of the beatific or prophetic vision, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century.



Procedure: Please send an abstract of up to 4,000 characters, including the title of the proposed contribution and an outline of its argument, to by the specified deadline. Proposals will be evaluated by the editors of the Journal and a panel of readers, and the results of the selection will be announced to the authors by March 31th, 2021. Accepted papers will then have to be submitted to the editors by a new deadline, which will be announced to the authors with the results of the selection, and will undergo a double-blind review.

Maria Vittoria Comacchi, Simone Guidi, Anna Rodolfi |

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