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On Becoming GodLate Medieval Mysticism and the Modern Western Self$
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Ben Morgan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823239924

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823239924.001.0001

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Meister Eckhart's Anthropology

Meister Eckhart's Anthropology

(p.85) 5 Meister Eckhart's Anthropology
On Becoming God

Ben Morgan

Fordham University Press

The chapter introduces key elements of Meister Eckhart's thought as it is articulated in his vernacular treatises and sermons. The language used to describe and cultivate personal identity in the fourteenth century differs importantly from modern usage, so the chapter explores how Eckhart and his peers wrote about personal identity without employing the noun self. Eckhart's individualized programme of self-abandonment is put in the context of the spiritual practices of his contemporaries, but also of early portrait painting, and of way of life of Dominican friars preaching in the flourishing urban centres of the Rhineland. Eckhart is shown to situate spiritual change at the level of activities and practices, and his preaching consequently addresses the habits and assumptions of his congregation. Eckhart's texts are shown to be at once familiar and alienating: discussing personalized forms of spiritual development, but without valuing individual agency or self-awareness as ends in themselves.

Keywords:   Meister Eckhart, Heinrich Seuse, Margaretha Ebner, medieval mysticism, history of the self

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