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Boek nr. 16

The varieties of religious experience by William James 

(download hier de PDF-versie: )

Wikipedia schrijft het volgende over dit boek: 

The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature is a book by Harvard University psychologist and philosopher William James. It comprises his edited Gifford Lectures on natural theology, which were delivered at theUniversity of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1901 and 1902. The lectures concerned the nature of religion and the neglect of science in the academic study of religion. Soon after its publication, Varieties entered the Western canon of psychology and philosophy and has remained in print for over a century. James later developed his philosophy of pragmatism. There are many overlapping ideas in Varieties and his 1907 book, Pragmatism.[

James was most interested in direct religious experiences. Theology and the organizational aspects of religion were of secondary interest. He believed that religious experiences were simply human experiences (“Religious happiness is happiness. Religious trance is trance.”).He believed that religious experiences can have “morbid origins” in brain pathology and can be irrational but nevertheless are largely positive. Unlike the bad ideas that people have under the influence of a high fever, after a religious experience the ideas and insights usually remain and are often valued for the rest of the person's life.Under James’ pragmatism, the effectiveness of religious experiences proves their truth, whether they stem from religious practices or from drugs (Nitrous oxide ... stimulate[s] the mystical consciousness in an extraordinary degree..

James had relatively little interest in the legitimacy or illegitimacy of religious experiences. Further, despite James' examples being almost exclusively drawn from Christianity, he did not mean to limit his ideas to any single religion. Religious experiences are something that people sometimes have under certain conditions. In James' description, these conditions are likely to be psychological or pharmaceutical rather than cultural. 

James believed that the origins of a religion shed little light upon its value. There is a distinction between an existential judgment (a judgment on “constitution, origin, and history”) and a proposition of value (a judgment on “importance, meaning, or significance”)For example, if the founder of the Quaker religionGeorge Fox, had been a hereditary degenerate, the Quaker religion could yet be “a religion of veracity rooted in spiritual inwardness, and a return to something more like the original gospel truth than men had ever known in England.” Furthermore, the potentially dubious psychological origins of religious beliefs apply just as well to non-religious beliefs: Scientific theories are organically conditioned just as much as religious emotions are; and if we only knew the facts intimately enough, we should doubtless see “the liver” determining the dicta of the sturdy atheist as decisively as it does those of the Methodist under conviction anxious about his soul.


Tja, echt nieuw is dit boek niet, en ik zou me zo kunnen voorstellen, dat er anno 2015 mogelijk andere boeken met meer relevantie over dit thema te vinden zijn.

Maar ja, ik ben dan ook Lena, niet Mark. Dus mocht je dit boek wel lezen, ben ik benieuwd wat je ervan vindt!