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Ecstasy, (or ekstasis) from the Ancient Greek, έκ-στασις (ex-stasis), to be or stand outside oneself, a removal to elsewhere (from ex-: out, and stasis: a stand, or a standoff of forces).

It is used in philosophy usually to mean outside-of-itself. One's consciousness, for example, is not self-enclosed, one can be conscious of an Other person, who falls well outside of one's own self. In a sense, consciousness is usually, "outside of itself," in that its object (what it thinks about, or perceives) is not itself.

Another example of the use of the term "ecstasy", is that one can be "outside of oneself," with time; In temporalizing, each of the following: the past (the 'having-been'), the future (the 'not-yet') and the present (the 'making-present') are the "outside of itself" of each other. In fact, our being-in-the-world is usually focused toward some person, task or the past. Telling someone to "remain in the present," could then be self-contradictory, if the present only emerged as the "outside itself" of future projections (possibilities) and past facts (our throwness).

The term has been used in this sense by Heidegger and Sartre.

It has also been used by both Levinas and Jean Luc Nancy in relation to the exposure of one person to another. Something that they consider more fundamental to the independent subject of the cogito of western philosophy.

It is used concomitantly by philosophers to refer to a heightened state of pleasure or area of consciousness that may have been ignored by other theorists; to sexual experiences with another person, or, as a general state of intense emotional rapture. These may include epiphany, intense consciousness toward an other, or extraordinary physical connections to others.

There is also a form of ecstasy described as the vision of, or union with, some other-worldly entity (see religious ecstasy), of which Plotinus spoke, this pertains to an individual trance-like experience of the sacred or of God. Current philosophic usage would point instead to an original ecstasy that was dionysian or carnivalesque and involved with others in this world.

As one noted scholar writes:

Existential philosophy defined the new concepts of ecstasy or of transcendence to fix a distinct kind of being that is by casting itself out of its own given place and time, without dissipating, because at each moment it projects itself – or, more exactly, a variant of itself – into another place and time. Such a being is not ideality, defined as intuitable or reconstitutable anywhere and at any moment. Ex-istence, understood etymologically, is not so much a state or a stance as a movement, which is by conceiving a divergence from itself or a potentiality of itself and casting itself into that divergence with all that it is[1]


  1. Lingis, Alphonso. "The Imperative", (Indiana University Press, 1998)
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