The Varieties of Religious Experience

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9780020859703: The Varieties of Religious Experience

'Is life worth living? Yes, a thousand times yes when the world still holds such spirits as Professor James.' - Gertrude Stein

A classic of American thought, William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience is an extraordinary study of human spirituality in all its forms and one of the most profound works of Psychology ever written. When the book was published in 1902 the study of the human mind was a thrillingly new field of scientific enquiry: James was one of the first to seriously examine the psychology of religious faith and where he led, both Jung and Freud would follow. Yet for all its historical significance, this is a book full of humanity, wit and some deeply personal stories of revelation, religious devotion and mystical experience.

The Routledge Classics edition of The Varieties of Religious Experience makes available in paperback for the first time the Centenary Edition published by Routledge in 2002 with new introductions on the historical and contemporary significance of James’ work and a foreword by the author’s grandson, Micky James.

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Review:

One of the seminal works of philosophy and theology. ( Catholic Herald)

From the Back Cover:

When William James went to the University of Edinburgh in 1901 to deliver a series of lectures on "natural religion," he defined religion as "the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine." Considering religion, then, not as it is defined by--or takes place in--the churches, but as it is felt in everyday life, he undertook a project that, upon completion, stands not only as one of the most important texts on psychology ever written, not only as a vitally serious contemplation of spirituality, but for many critics one of the best works of nonfiction written in the 20th century. Reading The Varieties of Religious Experience, it is easy to see why. Applying his analytic clarity to religious accounts from a variety of sources, James elaborates a pluralistic framework in which "the divine can mean no single quality, it must mean a group of qualities, by being champions of which in alternation, different men may all find worthy missions." It's an intellectual call for serious religious tolerance--indeed, respect--the vitality of which has not diminished through the subsequent decades.

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