The Varieties of Religious Experience  -     By: William James
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The Varieties of Religious Experience

Simon & Schuster / 2004 / Paperback

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Product Description

"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."

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 416
Vendor: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2004
Dimensions: 8.44 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0743257871
ISBN-13: 9780743257879
Availability: Usually ships in 24-48 hours.

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Publisher's Description

The culmination of William James' interest in the psychology of religion, The Varieties of Religious Experience approached the study of religious phenomena in a new way -- through pragmatism and experimental psychology. The most important effect of the publication of the Varieties was to shift the emphasis in this field of study from the dogmas and external forms of religion to the unique mental states associated with it. Explaining the book's intentions in a letter to a friend, James stated:
"The problem I have set myself is a hard one: first, to defend...'experience' against 'philosophy' as being the real backbone of the world's religious life...and second, to make the hearer or reader believe what I myself invincibly do believe, that, although all the special manifestations of religion may have been absurd (I mean its creeds and theories), yet the life of it as a whole is mankind's most important function."
Drawing evidence from his own experience and from such diverse thinkers as Voltaire, Whitman, Emerson, Luther, Tolstoy, John Bunyan, and Jonathan Edwards, The Varieties of Religious Experience remains one of the most influential books ever written on the psychology of religion.

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