The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature

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Overview

In The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, Dr. William James takes aim at the nature of religion from a scientific/academic point of view-something that had, until this landmark work, been sorely missed. James believed that the study of the origin of an object or concept should not play a role in the study of its value. As an example, he alluded to the Quaker religion and its founder, George Fox. Many scientists immediately reject all aspects of the Quaker religion because evidence ...
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Overview

In The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, Dr. William James takes aim at the nature of religion from a scientific/academic point of view-something that had, until this landmark work, been sorely missed. James believed that the study of the origin of an object or concept should not play a role in the study of its value. As an example, he alluded to the Quaker religion and its founder, George Fox. Many scientists immediately reject all aspects of the Quaker religion because evidence suggests that Fox was schizophrenic. Calling this rejection medical materialism, he insisted that the origin of Fox's notions about religion should not be considered when placing a value on them. He pointed out that many believed El Greco to have suffered from astigmatism, yet no one would dismiss his art based on this medical detail.

"Scientific theories are organically conditioned just as much as religious emotions are; and if we only knew the facts intimately enough, we should doubtless see 'the liver' determining the dicta of the sturdy atheist as decisively as it does those of the Methodist under conviction anxious about his soul. When it alters in one way the blood that percolates it, we get the Methodist, when in another way, we get the atheist form of mind."- Dr. William James

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Editorial Reviews

Mind, New Series, Vol. 12, No. 46 (Apr., 1903) - H. Rashdall
That the book is one of the highest interest, that extraordinary industry and research have been employed in collecting these records from the religious literature of all ages and faiths, that Prof. James's comments upon them are characterised by all his accustomed charm of style, vivacity and open-mindedness, is unquestionable
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781604590791
  • Publisher: Wilder Publications
  • Publication date: 9/22/2007
  • Pages: 372
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

William James (1842–1910), brother of writer Henry James, was born in New York and studied medicine at Harvard, where he taught from 1872; James continued on to write books and become one of the most renowned psychologist-philosophers in the Western world. His other famous works include Principles of Psychology (1890) and Pragmatism (1907).
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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

Lecture 1 - Religion and Neurology

Lecture 2 - Circumscription of the Topic

Lecture 3 - The Reality of the Unseen

Lecture 4-5 - The Religion of Healthy-Mindedness

Lecture 6-7 - The Sick Soul

Lecture 8 - The Divided Self, and the Process of its Unification

Lecture 9 - Conversion

Lecture 10 - Conversion-concluded

Lecture 11-13 - Saintliness

Lecture 14-15 - The Value of Saintliness

Lecture 16-17 - Mysticism

Lecture 18 - Philosophy

Lecture 19 - Other Characteristics

Lecture 20 - Conclusion

Postscript

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 25 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2002

    The triumph of the twice -born soul

    This work collects together religious experience from a wide diversity of cultures.It presents the remarkable personal transformations of a good share of mankind's most remarkable souls.One of them is James himself who recounts anonymously the story of his own depression and mental struggle.This book touches many areas of thought and study, psychology , philosophy, mystical perception, religious experience and thought .It does have its general conclusion in which James does try to summarize the twice - born experience, and the experience of one who has met God ( at least in their own perception ) and lived to tell the tale. James seems to feel that in terms of doctrinal conclusions most of the people somehow take out what they have already come in with, but in a new revived way. From the point of view of Jewish religious thought which is what I have most studied it seems to me there is a clear distinction between Jewish mystical religious encounter, and much other.And this because Jewish thinkers are very reluctant to argue that there has been a complete union with God but always tend to feel that God 's transcendent dimension remains supreme. In any case this is one of the great books of religious thought and cannot come more highly recommended.James writes very clearly with a real sense of the reader's need to understand what is being written about.My guess is that in this he worked very hard as he did in other aspects of his life to act in a way much different from that ethereal and somewhat confused and confusing Swedenborgian mystic, his father. Who reads this book not only reads a man, but reads much of what is in the religious soul and aspiration of Mankind.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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