Negative capability and religious experience

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This article responds to each of the four essays on The Extravagance of Music in turn. It addresses the particular issues they raise, though a prominent contention running through the piece concerns the need for what André Gide calls ‘une disposition à l’accueil’ – that is, a posture of receptivity or hospitable disposition in relation to the revelatory potential of music. In explaining the importance of this openness to possibilities – which I argue should be ‘ecumenically’ extended to all types of music – the chapter invokes Keats’s notion of ‘negative capability’ and affirms, against approaches that seek to predetermine the theological meanings of music, the value in religious contexts of this willingness to dwell hospitably with indeterminacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-94
JournalInternational Journal for the Study of the Christian Church
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2020


  • Popular music
  • Transcendence
  • General revelation
  • Hospitality
  • The autonomy of affect
  • Affordance


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