Mystical Theistic Ineffability and Agnosticism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Anthony Kenny revived the charge that theistic ineffability is little different from agnosticism. This charge rests on taking Ineffability Claims literally, as denying all predications whatsoever of God. I argue that this charge violates the Principle of Charity, because taking Ineffability Claims literally requires being less than charitable to theistic ineffabilists. There are two too obvious problems with taking Ineffability Claims literally. One is the Internal Objection that the ineffability claim commits a pragmatic contradiction and the other is the External Objection that what mystics say otherwise about God constitutes a pragmatic contradiction to their Ineffability-Claim. These objections are too obvious to be valid and so I propose ways to understand mystical Ineffability Claims as allowing some kinds of predications of God. The intuitive driving insight is that we cannot express only how God is “in Himself.”

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQuietism, Agnosticism and Mysticism
Subtitle of host publicationMapping the Philosophical Discourse of the East and the West
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9789811632235
ISBN (Print)9789811632228
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Agnosticism
  • Charity
  • God
  • Ineffability Claims
  • Mercifulness
  • Mysticism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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