The Varieties of Religious Experience

The Varieties of Religious Experience

A Study in Human Nature

Paperback - 2012
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"By their fruits ye shall know them, not by their roots."The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) is William James's classic survey of religious belief in its most personal, and often its most heterodox, aspects. Asking questions such as how we define evil to ourselves, the difference between a healthy and a divided mind, the value of saintlybehaviour, and what animates and characterizes the mental landscape of sudden conversion, James's masterpiece stands at a unique moment in the relationship between belief and culture. Faith in institutional religion and dogmatic theology was fading away, and the search for an authentic religionrooted in personality and subjectivity was a project conducted as an urgent necessity. With psychological insight, philosophical rigour, and a determination not to jump to the conclusion that in tracing religion's mental causes we necessarily diminish its truth or value, in the Varieties Jameswrote a truly foundational text for modern belief.Matthew Bradley's wide-ranging new edition examines the ideas that continue to fuel modern debates on atheism and faith.
Publisher: Oxford, U.K. : Oxford University Press, 2012.
ISBN: 9780199691647
Branch Call Number: 204.2 JAMES
Characteristics: xxxvi, 441 p. ; 20 cm.
Additional Contributors: Bradley, Matthew 1977- .- Editor


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FCLS Library Staff shares what they've been reading lately! The Varieties of Religious Experience, by William James By Ruben Villegas, Library Associate I'm finishing The Varieties of Religious Experience, by William James. Makes me think how hard it is to explain an idea or an experience to someone who is not personal familiar with it. Ever had one of those "Curse of Knowledge" moments?… (more)

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Aug 02, 2018

Exceptional, timeless lectures given in 1902 at the University of Edinburgh by the brilliant psychologist, moralist and philosopher William James on the topic of religion as individually, personally experienced, intentionally leaving aside the study or analysis of organized religion.
Notable for me:

Lecture III on Reality of the Unseen, "The sense of God, when experienced by people, is as convincing as any direct sensory experience, and far more convincing and compelling than mere logic. If you have them, you can hardly resist them as genuine perceptions of truth. 'Instinct leads; intelligence does but follow.'"

Lectures XI-XIII on Saintliness, "The transition from tenseness, self-responsibility, and worry, to equanimity, receptivity, and peace, is the most wonderful of all those shiftings of inner equilibrium, those changes of the personal centre of energy, which I have analyzed so often; and the chief wonder of it is that it so often comes about, not by doing, but by simply relaxing and throwing the burden down ."

Lectures XIV and XV on The Value of Saintliness (among the best lectures of all!), "The basenesses so commonly charged to religion's account are thus, almost all of them, not chargeable at all to religion proper, but rather to religion's wicked practical partner, the spirit of corporate [organized] dominion. And the bigotries are most of them in their turn chargeable to religion's wicked intellectual partner, the spirit of dogmatic dominion, the passion for laying down the law in the form of an absolutely closed in-theoretic system."

...and "The saints, with their extravagance of human tenderness, are the great torch-bearers of this belief [of the essential sacredness of every person], the tip of the wedge, the clearers of the darkness. Like the single drops which sparkle in the sun as they are flung far ahead of the advancing edge of a wave-crest or of a flood, they show the way and are forerunners. The world is not yet with them, so they often seem in the midst of the world's affairs to be preposterous. Yet they are impregnators of the world, vivifiers and animators of potentialities of goodness which, but for them, would like forever dormant."

Also the commentaries at the end on James by Thomas Flournoy and Josiah Royce are well worth the read.

May 09, 2012

thank you


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