Janusz SalamonCorresponding author

On Cognitive Validity of Religious Experience

9 - 2004, pages 7-24
Date of online publication: 29 August 2016
Date of publication: 30 November 2004


Does the alleged religious experience of a mystic constitute a reliable source of knowledge about the object of his or her experience? Or does it rationally justify a move from such experience to meaningful beliefs about God or the Absolute which is supposed to be the object of that experience? And are religious beliefs in need of being grounded in religious experience in order to be rationally justified? Although it seems pretty obvious that a great many adherents of all religions find reasons for their beliefs in their religious traditions rather than in their personal religious experiences, one could note that (1) usually these traditions present religious experiences of their founder figures as constituting evidence for their authenticity and truthfulness (consider the importance of Abraham's and Moses' encounters with God for Judaism, the experience of the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost for Christianity, or the experience of Mahomet receiving the Koran for Islam); (2) the supposed mystical experiences of some adherents of a given religious tradition are often treated by their co-believers as an important evidence which increases credibility of their own religious convictions (it seems that primarily for this reason some of the great Christian mystics have been granted the title of 'Doctor of the Church', Chasidic Jews venerate the memory of their saintly leaders making pilgrimages to their graves, and some sufi mystics of medieval Islam are still held in high esteem nearly a thousand years after their death).


Cite this article

Salamon, Janusz. “On Cognitive Validity of Religious Experience.” Forum Philosophicum 9 (2004): 7–24. doi:10.35765/forphil.2004.0901.1.