Ineffability and Religious Experience

Ineffability and Religious Experience (Oxford: Routledge, 2014) is the first volume in the series: Pickering Studies in Philosophy of Religion.

Ineffability—that which cannot be explained in words—lies at the heart of the Christian mystical tradition. It has also been part of every discussion of religious experience since the early twentieth century. Despite this centrality, ineffability is a concept that has largely been ignored by philosophers of religion. In this book, Bennett-Hunter builds on the recent work of David E. Cooper, who argues that the meaning of life can only be understood in terms of an ineffable source on which life depends, and engages with the work of Continental philosophers, such as Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and Karl Jaspers.

This is the first book to explore the concept of ineffability within contemporary philosophy of religion and provides a starting point for further scholarly debate. It will be of interest to scholars of philosophy of religion, theology, existentialism and phenomenology.

This book is badly needed in a rather unusual sense because it attends to such a neglected topic. Philosophers have long concentrated on linguistic forms in a way that has isolated language from the rest of life, and this isolation has increasingly obscured for them the vast range of things that cannot be spoken. During the last century, too, English-speaking analytic philosophy has carried this isolation to disastrous lengths on various topics, but above all in the philosophy of religion. Bennett-Hunter is not the first philosopher to try and map this distracted field, but he is remarkable in the width and sympathy of his approach to the highly various thinkers whom he invokes to illuminate it.
— Mary Midgley

A symposium on Ineffability appeared in Philosophia, 44.4 (2016): 1247–1287: