Urban 53's Reviews > The Varieties of Religious Experience

The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
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Feb 22, 11

it was amazing

Many years after first reading this philosopical/psychological classic by William James, it remains so very timely in its major endeavor to respect, describe, and (inadequately) categorize religious experience. This work comprises his compiled Gifford Lectures from 1901-02, and still stands as one of the most cogent presentations against scientism (the belief that all that can be validly known is by the sensory-based, empirical method) as well as a door-opening, psychological acknowledgement of transcendant spiritual experience as something more than deluded perception or imaginary concoction.

Others have adequately described the general character of the material in the lectures, but not always so adequately told that James knows something of the perception of religious experience, whether or not he ever personally enjoyed any of the more uncommon forms it sometimes takes. He is right that it draws from the depth of human feeling and is powerfully personal. He recognizes that, in its more natural and common manifestations, it is ubiquitous. He, unlike so many other psychologists of our day, was not afraid to respect the richness of sanity behind much of the uncommon experience (as opposed to the insanity of some perceived religious experiences). He is still a fresh voice inviting genuine dialogue between those without, and those within, a spiritual worldview.
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