William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience brings together twenty lectures on the nature of religion, delivered at the University of Edinburgh between 1901 and 1902. Renowned at the time for their practical and even-handed approach to the human experience of religion, the lectures form a sympathetic and analytical portrait not of the church, but of the personalized experiences of religious life. James examines the words of writers and philosophers from Immanuel Kant to Plato to Ralph Waldo Emerson to Marcus Aurelius in his investigations of faith, the soul, and systems of belief. Praised by philosopher Charles Pierce for its “penetration into the hearts of people” and by the New York Times for its ability to stir the sympathies of readers, The Varieties of Religious Experience is a lucid and thought-provoking examination of man’s encounters with God.
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-The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
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' said Walter Houston Clark in Psychology Today. The book was an immediate bestseller upon its publication in June 1902. Reflecting the pluralistic views of psychologist-turned-philosopher William James, it posits that individual religious experiences, rather than the tenets of organized religions, form the backbone of religious life. James's discussion of conversion, repentance, mysticism, and hopes of reward and fears of punishment in the hereafter--as well as his observations on the religious experiences of such diverse thinkers as Voltaire, Whitman, Emerson, Luther, Tolstoy, and others--all support his thesis. 'James' characteristic humor, his ability to put down the pretentious and to be unpretentious, and his willingness to take some risks in his choices of anecdotal data or provocative theories are all apparent in the book,' noted Professor Martin E. Marry. 'A reader will come away with more reasons to raise new questions than to feel that old ones have been resolved.'
Keywords: religion, christianity, christ, church, classic
Introduction, Bibliography and Textual Note
Lecture I: The Present Dilemma in Philosophy
Lecture II: What Pragmatism Means
Lecture III: Some Metaphysical Problems Pragmatically Considered
Lecture IV: The One and the Many
Lecture V: Pragmatism and Common Sense
Lecture VI: Pragmatism's Conception of Truth
Lecture VII: Pragmatism and Humanism
Lecture VIII: Pragmatism and Religion
William James, a longtime student of the US Constitution, relies on James Madison, its recognized father, as well as Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to reveal the document’s true meaning in this detailed analysis.
James reveals what the Founding Fathers really intended the Constitution to do, and he also shares forgotten truths, such as:
• “Natural born” means that a child is born from parents who are both citizens of the United States.
• The Second Amendment simply recognizes two unalienable rights; one is the right of free states to organize a militia, and the other is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms.
• Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal is believed by many to have prolonged and exacerbated the Great Depression. More importantly, the New Deal was unconstitutional.
James also explores how politicians consistently come up short in applying constitutional principles and how lawyers deliberately confuse people about the Constitution’s meaning.
Stop accepting what politicians say at face value, and empower yourself with the knowledge you need to stand up for your rights with The Constitution and What It Means.
"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," said Walter Houston Clark in Psychology Today. The book was an immediate bestseller upon its publication in June 1902. Reflecting the pluralistic views of psychologist-turned-philosopher William James, it posits that individual religious experiences, rather than the tenets of organized religions, form the backbone of religious life. James's discussion of conversion, repentance, mysticism, and hope of reward and fears of punishment in the hereafter--as well as his observations on the religious experiences of such diverse thinkers as Voltaire, Whitman, Emerson, Luther, Tolstoy, and others--all support his thesis. "James's characteristic humor, his ability to put down the pretentious and to be unpretentious, and his willingness to take some risks in his choices of ancedotal data or provocative theories are all apparent in the book," noted Professor Martin E. Marty. "A reader will come away with more reasons to raise new questions than to feel that old ones have been resolved."
James propounded his theories of pragmatism in this book, one of the most important in American philosophy. In a sense, he wished to test competing systems of thought in the "marketplace of actual experience" to determine their validity, i.e. whether adopting a particular philosophical theory or way of looking at the world makes an actual difference in individual conduct or in how we perceive and react to the varieties of experience. In these pages, James not only makes a strong case for his own ideas, but mounts a powerful attack against the transcendental and rationalist tradition.
For anyone interested in William James or the history of American philosophical thought, Pragmatism is an essential and thought provoking reference. In this handy, inexpensive edition, it will challenge and stimulate any thinking person.
Were I obliged to give a short name to the attitude in question, I should call it that of radical empiricism, in spite of the fact that such brief nicknames are nowhere more misleading than in philosophy. I say 'empiricism,' because it is contented to regard its most assured conclusions concerning matters of fact as hypotheses liable to modification in the course of future experience; and I say 'radical,' because it treats the doctrine of monism itself as an hypothesis, and, unlike so much of the half-way empiricism that is current under the name of positivism or agnosticism or scientific naturalism, it does not dogmatically affirm monism as something with which all experience has got to square. The difference between monism and pluralism is perhaps the most pregnant of all the differences in philosophy. Primâ facie the world is a pluralism; as we find it, its unity seems to be that of any collection; and our higher thinking consists chiefly of an effort to redeem it from that first crude form. Postulating more unity than the first experiences yield, we also discover more. But absolute unity, in spite of brilliant dashes in its direction, still remains undiscovered, still remains a Grenzbegriff. "Ever not quite" must be the rationalistic philosopher's last confession concerning it. After all that reason can do has been done, there still remains the opacity of the finite facts as merely given, with most of their peculiarities mutually unmediated and unexplained. To the very last, there are the various 'points of view' which the philosopher must distinguish in discussing the world; and what is inwardly clear from one point remains a bare externality and datum to the other. The negative, the alogical, is never wholly banished. Something—"call it fate, chance, freedom, spontaneity, the devil, what you will"—is still wrong and other and outside and unincluded, from your point of view, even though you be the greatest of philosophers.
The Routledge Centenary Edition, entirely reset from the original 1902 edition, is prefaced with a specially commissioned foreword by the author's grandson, Micky James, and with new introductions from James specialists Eugene Taylor and Jeremy Carrette. It also includes a new and expanded index.
‘Thoughts’ and ‘things’ are names for two sorts of object, which common sense will always find contrasted and will always practically oppose to each other. Philosophy, reflecting on the contrast, has varied in the past in her explanations of it, and may be expected to vary in the future. At first, ‘spirit and matter,’ ‘soul and body,’ stood for a pair of equipollent substances quite on a par in weight and interest. But one day Kant undermined the soul and brought in the transcendental ego, and ever since then the bipolar relation has been very much off its balance. The transcendental ego seems nowadays in rationalist quarters to stand for everything, in empiricist quarters for almost nothing. In the hands of such writers as Schuppe, Rehmke, Natorp, Münsterberg—at any rate in his earlier writings, Schubert-Soldern and others, the spiritual principle attenuates itself to a thoroughly ghostly condition, being only a name for the fact that the ‘content’ of experience is known. It loses personal form and activity—these passing over to the content—and becomes a bare Bewusstheit or Bewusstsein überhaupt, of which in its own right absolutely nothing can be said.
I believe that ‘consciousness,’ when once it has evaporated to this estate of pure diaphaneity, is on the point of disappearing altogether. It is the name of a nonentity, and has no right to a place among first principles. Those who still cling to it are clinging to a mere echo, the faint rumor left behind by the disappearing ‘soul’ upon the air of philosophy. During the past year, I have read a number of articles whose authors seemed just on the point of abandoning the notion of consciousness, and substituting for it that of an absolute experience not due to two factors. But they were not quite radical enough, not quite daring enough in their negations. For twenty years past I have mistrusted ‘consciousness’ as an entity; for seven or eight years past I have suggested its non-existence to my students, and tried to give them its pragmatic equivalent in realities of experience. It seems to me that the hour is ripe for it to be openly and universally discarded.
“There are two lives, the natural and the spiritual, and we must lose the one before we can participate in the other.” - William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature
The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature is not a book about a specific religion. The author, psychologist Williams James does not try to convince the reader one religion is better than the other. He doesn’t even make a case for atheism and the scientific approach. The book is in fact about human nature and how we experience religion at a psychological level.
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Cognition is a function of consciousness. The first factor it implies is therefore a state of consciousness wherein the cognition shall take place. Having elsewhere used the word 'feeling' to designate generically all states of consciousness considered subjectively, or without respect to their possible function, I shall then say that, whatever elements an act of cognition may imply besides, it at least implies the existence of a FEELING. [If the reader share the current antipathy to the word 'feeling,' he may substitute for it, wherever I use it, the word 'idea,' taken in the old broad Lockian sense, or he may use the clumsy phrase 'state of consciousness,' or finally he may say 'thought' instead.]
A classic of American thought, William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience is an extraordinary study of human spirituality in all its forms and one of the most profound works of Psychology ever written. When the book was published in 1902 the study of the human mind was a thrillingly new field of scientific enquiry: James was one of the first to seriously examine the psychology of religious faith and where he led, both Jung and Freud would follow. Yet for all its historical significance, this is a book full of humanity, wit and some deeply personal stories of revelation, religious devotion and mystical experience.
The Routledge Classics edition of The Varieties of Religious Experience makes available in paperback for the first time the Centenary Edition published by Routledge in 2002 with new introductions on the historical and contemporary significance of James’ work and a foreword by the author’s grandson, Micky James.
In the preface to that admirable collection of essays of his called 'Heretics,' Mr. Chesterton writes these words: "There are some people—and I am one of them—who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger, it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy, it is important to know the enemy's numbers, but still more important to know the enemy's philosophy. We think the question is not whether the theory of the cosmos affects matters, but whether, in the long run, anything else affects them."
I think with Mr. Chesterton in this matter. I know that you, ladies and gentlemen, have a philosophy, each and all of you, and that the most interesting and important thing about you is the way in which it determines the perspective in your several worlds. You know the same of me. And yet I confess to a certain tremor at the audacity of the enterprise which I am about to begin. For the philosophy which is so important in each of us is not a technical matter; it is our more or less dumb sense of what life honestly and deeply means. It is only partly got from books; it is our individual way of just seeing and feeling the total push and pressure of the cosmos. I have no right to assume that many of you are students of the cosmos in the class-room sense, yet here I stand desirous of interesting you in a philosophy which to no small extent has to be technically treated. I wish to fill you with sympathy with a contemporaneous tendency in which I profoundly believe, and yet I have to talk like a professor to you who are not students. Whatever universe a professor believes in must at any rate be a universe that lends itself to ...