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Varieties of Religious Experience

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By: (1842-1910)

The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature is a book by the Harvard psychologist and philosopher William James that comprises his edited Gifford Lectures on "Natural Theology" delivered at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland between 1901 and 1902. These lectures concerned the nature of religion and the neglect of science, in James' view, in the academic study of religion. Soon after its publication, the book found its way into the canon of psychology and philosophy, and has remained in print for over a century.

First Page:

THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE

A Study in Human Nature

BY WILLIAM JAMES

To E.P.G. IN FILIAL GRATITUDE AND LOVE

CONTENTS

LECTURE I

RELIGION AND NEUROLOGY

Introduction: the course is not anthropological, but deals with personal documents Questions of fact and questions of value In point of fact, the religious are often neurotic Criticism of medical materialism, which condemns religion on that account Theory that religion has a sexual origin refuted All states of mind are neurally conditioned Their significance must be tested not by their origin but by the value of their fruits Three criteria of value; origin useless as a criterion Advantages of the psychopathic temperament when a superior intellect goes with it especially for the religious life.

LECTURE II

CIRCUMSCRIPTION OF THE TOPIC

Futility of simple definitions of religion No one specific "religious sentiment" Institutional and personal religion We confine ourselves to the personal branch Definition of religion for the purpose of these lectures Meaning of the term "divine" The divine is what prompts SOLEMN reactions Impossible to make our definitions sharp We must study the more extreme cases Two ways of accepting the universe Religion is more enthusiastic than philosophy Its characteristic is enthusiasm in solemn emotion Its ability to overcome unhappiness Need of such a faculty from the biological point of view... Continue reading book >>


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