The Varieties of Religious Experience

The Varieties of Religious Experience is a 1907 book by psychologist William James. I first came across James in Richard Wiseman’s book Rip It Up in which Wiseman talked about James’ beliefs in behaviourism, a subject which much evidence is now converging on.

James was also interested in religion as well and gave a series of lectures in 1901/1902, which formed this book. He focuses on direct experiences – that is to say the people who not only talked to god, but god talks back to them.

It was tough going. I didn’t find the language a problem but the subject matter is heavy and following the points made was at time difficult, even though each case was well illustrated by anecdotes.

It was interesting that he briefly mentioned the rise of atheist churches in the form of the flourishing Ethical Societies that were on the rise at the time. From Comte’s Religion of Humanist to the Sunday Assemblies currently sweeping the world, it’s interesting to see how the wheel turns.




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This entry was posted on Sunday, May 24th, 2015 at 11:02 am and is filed under Books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.