Authors & Events
Dec 16, 1982
| ISBN 9780140390346
Dec 16, 1982
| ISBN 9781101128084
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Dec 16, 1982 | ISBN 9780140390346
Dec 16, 1982 | ISBN 9781101128084
Standing at the crossroads of psychology and religion, this catalyzing work applied the scientific method to a field abounding in abstract theory. William James believed that individual religious experiences, rather than the precepts of organized religions, were the backbone of the world’s religious life. His discussions of conversion, repentance, mysticism and saintliness, and his observations on actual, personal religious experiences – all support this thesis. In his introduction, Martin E. Marty discusses how James’s pluralistic view of religion led to his remarkable tolerance of extreme forms of religious behaviour, his challenging, highly original theories, and his welcome lack of pretension in all of his observations on the individual and the divine.
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time“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.”
Older brother of novelist Henry James, William James (1842–1910) was a philosopher, psychologist, physiologist, and professor at Harvard University. James has influenced such twentieth-century thinkers as Richard Rorty, Jürgen Habermas, Michel Foucault, and Julia Kristeva.
Introduction by Martin E. Marty Suggestions for Further Reading A Note on the Text The Varieties of Religious Experience
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