Understanding the nature of mystical experiences and their relation to religious discourse and reasoning has been an important task for the philosophy of religion, religious studies and theology. My central claim is that God-directed wonder is a constitutive feature of mystical experience for classically theistic religions. But properly understanding mystical experiences as shapers of religious reasoning requires a greater and more careful integration of empirical work than has been conducted thus far. The positive psychology literature, moreover, needs to be interpreted in light of recent philosophical work on transformative experience and the moral psychology of wonder in contemporary ethics. What sort of transcendence does God-directed wonder/awe purport to track? What sort of information-seeking does it motivate? What kind of personal/epistemic transformation does it effect? How might theological reasoning benefit from its cultivation? How does God-directed wonder differ from other the wonder elicited by e.g., nature or human greatness?
I propose to research and write the three most important chapters of a monograph devoted to addressing the questions above, drawing together literatures in philosophy, theology and the sciences that have not heretofore been allowed to speak to one another. Those three chapters would then culminate in a book proposal. Moreover, I propose to host a workshop in Spring 2019 aimed at bringing philosophers, theologians, religious studies scholars and social scientists together for collaborative work on related topics in religious mysticism. Both my chapters and the workshop would serve to build disciplinary bridges, creating new possibilities for discovery and new lines of research. The outcome of this work, I hope, would be to advance our understanding of mystical experience and its normative shaping of religious reasoning, and to incentivize the publication of papers from participants working on closely related topics.