Religion has always been one of the most fundamental pillars of the

nation. It has often been tied to the social, economic, as well as
political aspects of nations. However, the understanding of religion has
often been shrouded in mystery with varied aspects being unclear, at
least to the common mortals. This, in essence, has attracted the
attention of scholars who have tried to explore its varied aspects, as
well as come up with varied theories explaining the mystery. One of
these is Dr. Rudolf Otto, whose book, “The idea of the Holy”,
explored one of the primary components of religion, which is The
Numinous.
Question 1
Otto explains the numinous experience as the holy devoid of its moral
factor. It is both a category of being and of feeling. It underlines a
religious feeling that comes with a distinctive form of religious
knowledge that cannot be accessed to the ordinary rational
understanding. The numinous experience is composed of a number of
elements.
First, there is the element if creature feeling, which is explained as
the emotion or feeling of a creature being overwhelmed and submerged by
its own nothingness rather than that which comes as supreme to all
creatures (Otto 4).
The second characteristic is what he calls the “mysterium
tremendum”, or tremendous mystery. As mysterium, Otto states that the
numinous experience is “wholly other”, or rather entirely different
from things that individuals experience in their ordinary lives. It
underlines the notion of being something that goes beyond the realm of
the intelligible and familiar, in which case it falls outside the
boundaries of the canny (Otto 6). This feature underlines the fact that
it would elicit a reaction of silence and fill the creature’s mind
with astonishment and blank wonder. The numinous being mysterium
tremendum, means that it rouses terror as it comes as an overwhelming
power. Mysterium tremendum comes with three characteristics of the
numinous, which are the absolute unapproachability, power, as well as
the energy or urgency, which is essentially a force whose easiest
perception revolves around the “wrath of God”.
The numinous experience is also characterized by the element of
“fascinans” or fascination, which underlines an attractiveness or
potent charm despite the terror and fear that it souses in individuals.
In this case, while the creature trembles at the transcendent, it would
seek to turn to it, thereby making it his own (Otto 7).
Question 2
Otto uses the term creature–consciousness (also known as
creature-feeling) to underline the emotion pertaining to a creature
where it is overwhelmed or submerged in its own nothingness rather than
to the things that are supreme over all creatures. In essence, this
phrase comes as a conceptual explanation pertaining to the feeling or
experience of being in the presence of the numinous. It is worth noting
that, the numen praesens or numinous presence inspires, in the
individual who is experiencing the presence, the creature feeling. The
sense of autonomy comes as a response of an individual to the presence
of the numinous or the numen. It is worth noting that the numinous is
not a feeling that is inferred by rationality or human reason, rather is
felt as objective, as well as outside the realm of the self (Otto 11).
However, Otto notes that, as much as the experiences of the numinous may
have evolved from earlier religious consciousness, there is a difference
between creature-consciousness and the primitive religious
consciousness. This is especially considering that the primitive
religious consciousness had “daemonic dread” as the primary
feeling-response reaction. The crude or primitive religious
consciousness eventually evolved to a nobler, as well as elevated
experience over the centuries, which is the creature-consciousness.
Question 3
The “Law of Association of (analogous) Feelings” is a phrase that is
used to underline the notion that a feeling may arouse or trigger
similar feelings. In cases where a non-religious feeling has sufficient
resemblance to a numerous experience, it has the capacity to trigger it
in an individual’s mind. This law pertaining to the reproduction of
similar feelings revolves around the fact that there exists an
imperceptibly gradual substitution pertaining to the non-religious
feeling or experience by its like, the religious or numinous feeling,
with the former exiting from the scene while the latter increases in
corresponding degree. Feelings have the capacity to arouse similar
feelings, in which case the presence of one feeling in an individual’s
consciousness may essentially be the occasion for allowing or
entertaining the other feeling (Otto 43). Natural feelings have the
capacity to stimulate or trigger, as well as be replaced by numinous
feelings. There exists a numinous “overplus” in the numinous awe,
which can only be revealed in religious feeling through the functioning
of the law of analogous feelings. This quality in experiencing the
numinous awe cannot be reproduced in the natural or non-religious
feelings of awe (Otto 45) Numinous feelings, in essence, have
connections or links with the related or associated natural feelings
that afford analogies and are parallel to them in varied ways, “but do
not coincide with them in precise point-to-point correspondence” (Otto
47).
Works cited
Otto, Rudolf The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-rational
Factor in the Idea of the Divine and Its Relation to the Rational,
Second edition, tr. John W. Harvey. New York: Oxford University Press,
1923. Print
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