Varieties of Religious Experience A Study in Human Nature

ISBN-10: 0679640118

ISBN-13: 9780679640110

Edition: 1994

Authors: William James

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Description:

The Varieties of Religious Experience 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, Emerson, Luther, and others—all support his thesis. Walter Houston Clark in Psychology Today deemed it “the most notable of all books in the field of the psychology of religion.”
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Book details

List price: $16.00
Copyright year: 1994
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 5/11/1999
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 640
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.00" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.100
Language: English

William James, oldest of five children (including Henry James and Alice James) in the extraordinary James family, was born in New York City on January 11, 1842. He 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. He died due to heart failure on August 26, 1910.

Biographical Note
Preface
Religion and Neurology
Circumscription of the Topic
The Reality of the Unseen
The Religion of Healthy-Mindedness
The Sick Soul
The Divided Self, and the Process of its Unification
Conversion
Conversion - Concluded
Saintliness
The Value of Saintliness
Mysticism
Philosophy
Other Characteristics
Conclusions
Postscript
Commentary
Index
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