Lily's Reviews > The Varieties of Religious Experience

The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
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Jun 19, 2011

bookshelves: own-paperback, upstairs-2c, group-read, religion, psychology, philosophy, online-discussion, read-2016
Recommended to Lily by: Its reputation as a classic by a worthy writer
Recommended for: Interest in deep dive on religious faith
Read from May 01 to August 07, 2016 — I own a copy , read count: 1

Okay, I shall claim having read this in 2016. But it was a first pass for me, and this is one of those books I don't think I should really claim as having read until at least a second read, and maybe a third.

At this distance from August (now December), when I set James aside, never to really return to it, what stands out to me are a) while mystical experiences are a "real" part of human life, they in and of themselves are not adequate to empirically demonstrate the existence of divinity existing outside and beyond the "natural" world perceivable by humankind, and 2) faith can be a valuable, supportive tool in weathering the vicissitudes of human life. But I could probably have made those two statements without reading VRE. So....the value of the pedantic slough? Or of revisiting it? What can I say, besides the attempt to understand how a great mind and his audience have wrestled with selected aspects of religious experience -- and a sense of what aspects were chosen here.
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Reading Progress

05/17/2016 marked as: to-read
05/17/2016 marked as: currently-reading
08/07/2016 page 511
99.0% "Have basically read this thing == still deciding how much to read again before I consider it as "read.""
12/20/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Nemo (new) - added it

Nemo while mystical experiences are a "real" part of human life, they in and of themselves are not adequate to empirically demonstrate the existence of divinity..

Your word "adequate" reminds me of the famous "boy and the starfish" story. As an empirical demonstration, a mystical experience may not be adequate to humankind, but it may be adequate to the individual who had it.


message 2: by Lily (new) - added it

Lily Nemo wrote: "while mystical experiences are a "real" part of human life, they in and of themselves are not adequate to empirically demonstrate the existence of divinity..

Your word "adequate" reminds me of the..."


Likely so, although here I was first referring to VRE "conclusions" and only second to my own "opinions."


message 3: by Nemo (new) - added it

Nemo How do you tell them apart, VRE conclusions vs. your opinions?


message 4: by Lily (new) - added it

Lily Nemo wrote: "How do you tell them apart, VRE conclusions vs. your opinions?"

Partly by the surprise. But like any human process of discernment not backed by hours of hard work (or "being smart"--yes, allusion intended), humility acknowledges the room for error or self delusion.


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