Varieties of Religious Experience the
William James was a member of the generation that founded American psychology and philosophy; his work in both these fields placed James in the forefront of the intellectual and cultural ferment that marked late 19th century America.;In this classic work,...
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William James was a member of the generation that founded American psychology and philosophy; his work in both these fields placed James in the forefront of the intellectual and cultural ferment that marked late 19th century America.;In this classic work, he turned his attention to the psychology of religion. He examines such phenomena as conversion, repentance, mysticism, and saintliness; his observations and theoretical speculation are accompanied by personal accounts of religious experience. James believed that organized religion stifled the natural religious impulse; his belief in personal experience as the only true source of religious feeling led to a remarkable tolerance for extreme forms of religious behavior.
'The Varieties of Religious Experience is certainly the most notable of all books in the field of the psychology of religion and probably destined to be the most influential one written on religion in the twentieth century.'- Walter Houston Clark in Psychology Today
This collection defining documents from one of America's most influential thinkers presents Pragmatism in its entirety, James's seminal set of lectures in which he argues in his witty and limpid style for the "reasonableness of ordinary experience." Also gathered here are selections from James's other formative works, including The Meaning of Truth, Psychology, The Will to Believe, and Talks to Teachers on Psychology.
William James, oldest of five children (including Henry James and Alice James) in the extraordinary James family, has had a far-reaching influence on writers and thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Broadly educated by private tutors and through European travel, James initially studied painting. During the Civil War, however, he turned to medicine and physiology, attended Harvard medical school, and became interested in the workings of the mind. His text, The Principles of Psychology (1890), presents psychology as a science rather than a philosophy and emphasizes the connection between the mind and the body. James believed in free will and the power of the mind to affect events and determine the future. In The Will to Believe (1897) and The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), he explores metaphysical concepts and mystical experiences. He saw truth not as absolute but as relative, depending on the given situation and the forces at work in it. He believed that the universe was not static and orderly but ever-changing and chaotic. His most important work, Pragmatism (1907), examines the practical consequences of behavior and rejects the idealist philosophy of the transcendentalists. This philosophy seems to reinforce the tenets of social Darwinism and the idea of financial success as the justification of the means in a materialistic society; nevertheless, James strove to demonstrate the practical value of ethical behavior. Overall, James's lifelong concern with what he called the "stream of thought" or "stream of consciousness" changed the way writers conceptualize characters and present the relationship between humans, society, and the natural world.
- :<i>introduction By Martin E. Marty</i><br> <i>suggestions For Further Reading</i><br> <i>a Note On The Text</i> <b>the Varieties Of Religious Experience</b>