Main CategoriesPsychology and JungHumanistic and Transpersonal Psychology Varieties of Religious Experience, The

Varieties of Religious Experience, The

Product no.: 0-14-039034-0
Standing at the crossroads of psychology and religion, this catalyzing work applied the scientific method to a field abounding in abstract theory.

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Publisher's Synopsis
Upon completing his monumental The Principles of Psychology, William James turned his attention to serious consideration of such important religious and philosophical questions as the nature and existence of God, immortality of the soul and free will and determinism. His interest in these questions found expression in a variety of works, among them, this classic study of spirituality.

James based this volume on his participation in the prestigious Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion at the University of Edinburgh in 1901 and 1902. Studded with richly concrete examples, it documents and discusses various religious states of consciousness and covers such topics as the meaning of the term "divine", the reality of the unseen, the religion of healthy-mindedness, the sick soul, the divided self and the process of its unification, conversion, saintliness and mysticism.

The Varieties of Religious Experience remains one of the great books on the subject, especially noteworthy for the evidence it cites for religious experience as a unique phenomenon. Will prove valuable to readers interested in philosophy, religion and the history of Western thought.

"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.' James... had no intention of giving comfort to latter-day totalitarians. 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'. Its great weakness, retorted George Santayana, is its 'tendency to disintegrate the idea of truth, to recommend belief without reason and to encourage superstition'."       ~NY Times

"I am neither a theologian, nor a scholar learned in the history of religions, nor an anthropologist. Psychology is the only branch of learning in which I am particularly versed. To the psychologist the religious propensities of man must be at least as interesting as any other of the facts pertaining to his mental constitution. It would seem, therefore, as a psychologist, the natural thing for me would be to invite you to a descriptive survey of those religious propensities."

Author James, William
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 534 pp.
Publisher Penguin Books 1985
Browse these categories as well: Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology, Syncretism and the Perennial Philosophy, Metaphysics, Mysticism and Initiation

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