Joint Attention, Union with God, and the Dark Night of the Soul

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Abstract
Eleonore Stump has argued that the fulfilment of union between God and human beings requires a mode of relatedness that can be compared to joint attention, a phenomenon studied in contemporary experimental psychology. Stump’s account of union, however, is challenged by the fact that mother Teresa, despite her apparent manifestation of the love of God to others, herself experienced an interior ”dark night of the soul’ during which God seemed to be absent and to have rejected her completely. The dark night of the soul poses a problem for Stump’s account, since, if anyone had a union of divine love with God, it would seem that mother Teresa did. Nevertheless, I argue that the isolation and abandonment of mother Teresa’s dark night are contrary to the conditions assumed to be required for joint attention with God. As an alternative to Stump’s account, I suggest that the dark night of the soul might be better understood by reference to a combination of joint attention and blindsight, according to which interpersonal closeness might be realized through a consistent pattern of external actions without, however, a direct awareness of one person by the other.
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Archival date: 2018-03-14
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