This article gives a brief but comprehensive description of the views of an eminent German scholar, theologian, and philosopher, Rudolf Otto (1869–1937) on religion.
Who was Rudolf Otto (1869–1937)?
Rudolf Otto (1869–1937) is one of the most influential scholars on religion of the early twentieth century. His concept of numinous about religion gave him fame and popularity as an established scholar on religion and science.
What is Otto’s concept of Numinous?
In his most famous written work,’ The ideas of the Holy, Rudolph Otto argues ‘numinous’ is the defining element of any religious experience. He defines it as a uniquely intensive emotional experience that is common to all organized religions of the world.
Is numinous something rational
According to Otto, numinous has nothing to do with rationale, human intellect, and sense. He argues religious experiences are qualitatively different from other emotions. For him, it is rather an irrational and non-sensory feeling. It is something totally different and incomparable whereby a person finds him/herself in an uncomfortable state of mind.
Terminologies used to explain numinous
Terminologies like Ganz Andrere and sui generis which respectively mean completely different and incomparable. They are used to explain numinous to show its uniqueness and separation from normal human experiences.
What did Otto propose?
Otto felt people should first do a serious rational study of God, before turning to the non-rational element of God as he has done in his own work ‘The idea of Holy’. The influence of Otto’s views still influences theological, religious, and philosophical discourse to date.