While I do not favor James' approach to the investigation of religion or religious experience, I nonetheless found his broad survey a profitable and iWhile I do not favor James' approach to the investigation of religion or religious experience, I nonetheless found his broad survey a profitable and illuminating read. The fundamental underlying premise of the book is the fact/value distinction and non-reducebility of one to the other. The factual aspects of reality are grasped in existential judgements and the aspects of meaning or significance are grasped in value judgements. It is the latter that James has an interest in exploring in regard to religion. Furthermore, James is not interested in investigating developed patterns of various religions but rather the experiences that formed the basis of the formal expressions. To borrow from Kierkegaard, it the "subjective" religion that James is after... Formal religion is external to the individual, it is someone else's religion and not a personal expression. James is interested in penetrating beyond the formal expression to the personal experience.
For someone who has a lot of interest in religion from the point of view of existential rather than value judgement and formal (Creeds, Doctrines, Tradition., etc) rather than subjective aspects of religion, Variety of Religious Experiences served as a great reminder that one aspect of religion needs not to be neglected for the sake of the other.
Overall, the work is well organized and engaging. James stays consistent with the theses stated in the introductory chapter, thus, any disagreement with his conclusions one may have are most likely due to the disagreement with the premises of his theses. The only misleading feature is the title. The extent of religious experiences discussed is for the most part limited to Western protestantism and I would have liked to see more research on other religions. ...more
This book is an excellent introduction to works of Tolstoy for anyone who is interested in the author but unsure if reading his lengthy novels is a woThis book is an excellent introduction to works of Tolstoy for anyone who is interested in the author but unsure if reading his lengthy novels is a worthwhile investment or to those who have read the novels and just want to see what else there is to Tolstoy. Having read the novels and religious/political works of Tolstoy first, this collection provided an enjoyable continuation of many of the same themes in a different format. The editor's choice of the selected stories and quality of translation are beyond criticism. The only thing it could benefit from is translation of foreign (mainly french) language used in the notes. ...more
One of the clearest introductions to Aquinas I've read so far. The manner in which it's written is accessible, yet not watered down. The major questioOne of the clearest introductions to Aquinas I've read so far. The manner in which it's written is accessible, yet not watered down. The major questions are discussed from the perspective of their historical setting as well as from a modern perspective. Another useful feature is a list of suggested readings for each chapter. ...more