Religion In Rudolf Otto's The Idea Of The Holy

1121 Words5 Pages
The human mind’s ability and innate desire to justify and explain the world and its phenomena has led to some of the most significant and world-altering discoveries and inventions, illustrated throughout the renaissance, enlightenment, scientific revolution, and industrial revolution. Logical pursuits comprise a significant capstone of human nature and progress. However, according to Rudolf Otto in The Idea of the Holy, these tendencies have created different dimensions of religion; the rational and non-rational, with the latter often times overlooked. The most significant difference between the rational and non-rational aspects of religion deal with their respective emphasis on reason and feeling. Rudolph Otto prioritizes the non-rational…show more content…
The rationalization and struggle to understand and justify faith and the divine unintentionally downgrades the divine’s status to something utterly human, disserving religion, God, and their significance. The rational is absolutely clawing for meaning, a “guess [for] the riddle it propounds, and their effect is at the same time always to weaken and deaden the experience itself” (Otto, 26). Otto does not completely dismiss rationalized religion, but believes the preponderance of rationalization over experience is a mistake, since the core of all religion is mystical in itself. Otto points out the inadequacy of rationalization by labeling their concepts as “synthetic essential attributes,” as they are simply shadows of what the divine’s existence truly is (Otto, 2). Otto takes issue with the way in which rationalization alters the totality of religious experiences with “it resolves itself rather into a peculiar difference of quality in the mental attitude and emotional content of religious life itself” (Otto, 3). The rational retains the tendency to overpower the non-rational, thereby completely altering religious life and its meaning. Rationalized worshippers think more, and therefore feel less, extinguishing an integral part of what makes up religion. They are missing out on the non-rational’s offering of “… something unmistakably specific and unique, peculiar to life itself”…show more content…
However, the nature of his phrases focuses entirely on analogizing the essence of the non-rational, thereby omitting the rational aspects he took issue with. The numinous refers to the “extra” meaning regarding the “holy” (Otto, 6). The mysterium tremendum combines two words with separate emotive qualities with mysterium referring to the “wholly other,” a wonder inducing ‘mystery,’ while tremendum refers to the arousal of terror regarding the mountainous, almost unbearable presence of the divine, which produces a feeling of existence relative to “ashes and dust” (Otto, 8). Both of these phrases attempt to record the experiences of the non-rational. Notwithstanding his effective descriptions and valiant attempts, his creations are inadvertently deficient, due to language’s inadequacy in relating meaning to the divine. Acknowledging this, Otto understands the mysterium is “merely an ideogram, an analogical notion taken from the natural sphere, illustrating, but incapable of exhaustively rendering, our real meaning” (Otto, 26). Language’s mere existence as a human created tool for communication renders it incapable of ever reaching the level of sophistication and “beyond being” character that articulating the divine requires. God simply traverses all human

    More about Religion In Rudolf Otto's The Idea Of The Holy

      Open Document