Transmutations of the 'Selbst': Mysticism, Luther and Existentialism
According to the German mysticism initiated by Master Eckhart the self (Selbst, or Selbstheit) is integrated by the power of his will and makes a mystical union with other entities possible. Master Eckhart was not able, however, to construct a theory of mystical union between the soul and God for several reasons. First, according to the pantheistic formulation of Eckhart's philosophy God is in the soul and acts through the soul, and thus God cannot be additionally integrated with the soul. Secondly, again typically for the pantheistic perspective, Eckhart holds that the soul may perish, and nothing can mystically unite with what is nothingness. Thirdly, the finitude of the human existence puts man outside the absolute. Mysticism seems therefore pointless or futile. This situation changes completely with Martin Luther who proclaimed the fundamental impossibility of transformation of human existence and puts man entirely at God's mercy. This picture is further modified by existentialism, which holds that the human self, as shown in the writings of Frederic Jacobi, can be considered the ultimate, if not absolute, reality.
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