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James was most interested in direct religious experiences. Theology and the organizational aspects of religion were of secondary interest.

1. Introduction

He believed that religious experiences were simply human experiences: "Religious happiness is happiness. Religious trance is trance. He believed that religious experiences can have "morbid origins" [5] in brain pathology and can be irrational but nevertheless are largely positive. Unlike the bad ideas that people have under the influence of a high fever, after a religious experience the ideas and insights usually remain and are often valued for the rest of the person's life. James had relatively little interest in the legitimacy or illegitimacy of religious experiences.

Further, despite James' examples being almost exclusively drawn from Christianity , he did not mean to limit his ideas to any single religion. Religious experiences are something that people sometimes have under certain conditions. In James' description, these conditions are likely to be psychological or pharmaceutical rather than cultural. James believed that the origins of a religion shed little light upon its value.


The Foundations of Human Experience: Lecture 3 of 14 - Rudolf Steiner - Google книги

There is a distinction between an existential judgment a judgment on "constitution, origin, and history" and a proposition of value a judgment on "importance, meaning, or significance". For example, if the founder of the Quaker religion , George Fox , had been a hereditary degenerate, the Quaker religion could yet be "a religion of veracity rooted in spiritual inwardness, and a return to something more like the original gospel truth than men had ever known in England.

Furthermore, the potentially dubious psychological origins of religious beliefs apply just as well to non-religious beliefs:. 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. This is the religious experience of optimism and positive thinking which James sees running from the transcendentalists Emerson and Whitman to Mary Baker Eddy 's Christian Science.

At the extreme, the "healthy minded" see sickness and evil as an illusion. James considered belief in the "mind cure" to be reasonable when compared to medicine as practiced at the beginning of the twentieth century. By contrast, the "healthy minded" deny the need for such preparatory pain or suffering. James believes that "morbid-mindedness ranges over the wider scale of experience" and that while healthy-mindedness is a surprisingly effective "religious solution",. James sees the two types as being a mere matter of temperament: the healthy minded having a "constitutional incapacity for prolonged suffering"; the morbid minded being those prone to "religious melancholia".

Everywhere there is a frolic welcome to the eccentricities and extravagances of the religious life. Many will question whether its more sober exhibitions would not have been more fruitful of results, but the interest and fascination of the treatment are beyond dispute, and so, too, is the sympathy to which nothing human is indifferent. A July Time magazine review of an expanded edition published that year ends with quotes about the book from Peirce and Santayana: [11].

In making little allowance for the fact that people can also be converted to vicious creeds, he acquired admirers he would have deplored. Mussolini , for instance, hailed James as a preceptor who had showed him that "an action should be judged by its result rather than by its doctrinary basis.

He was simply impatient with his fellow academicians and their endless hairsplitting over matters that had no relation to life. A vibrant, generous person, he hoped to show that religious emotions, even those of the deranged, were crucial to human life.

The great virtue of The Varieties , noted pragmatist philosopher Charles Peirce , is its "penetration into the hearts of people. The famous dystopian novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley has a passage where Mustapha Mond shows this and other books about religion to John, after the latter has been caught for causing disorder between Delta humans in a hospital.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Book by William James. The New York Times. August 9, Retrieved William James in Russian Culture. Lanham MD: Lexington Books. The Varieties of Religious Experience Annotated. Longmans, Green, and Company. Psychology and Religion: Eight Points of View. The Varieties of Religious Experience. Harvard University Press.

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