THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
A Study in Human Nature
BY WILLIAM JAMES
RELIGION AND NEUROLOGY
Introduction: the course is not anthropological, but deals with personal documentsQuestions of fact and questions of valueIn point of fact, the religious are often neuroticCriticism of medical materialism, which condemns religion on that accountTheory that religion has a sexual origin refutedAll states of mind are neurally conditionedTheir significance must be tested not by their origin but by the value of their fruitsThree criteria of value; origin useless as a criterionAdvantages of the psychopathic temperament when a superior intellect goes with itespecially for the religious life.
CIRCUMSCRIPTION OF THE TOPIC
Futility of simple definitions of religionNo one specific "religious sentiment"Institutional and personal religionWe confine ourselves to the personal branchDefinition of religion for the purpose of these lecturesMeaning of the term "divine"The divine is what prompts SOLEMN reactionsImpossible to make our definitions sharpWe must study the more extreme casesTwo ways of accepting the universeReligion is more enthusiastic than philosophyIts characteristic is enthusiasm in solemn emotionIts ability to overcome unhappinessNeed of such a faculty from the biological point of view.
THE REALITY OF THE UNSEEN
Percepts versus abstract conceptsInfluence of the latter on beliefKants theological IdeasWe have a sense of reality other than that given by the special sensesExamples of "sense of presence"The feeling of unrealitySense of a divine presence: examplesMystical experiences: examplesOther cases of sense of Gods presenceConvincingness of unreasoned experienceInferiority of rationalism in establishing belief Either enthusiasm or solemnity may preponderate in the religious attitude of individuals.
LECTURES IV AND V
THE RELIGION OF HEALTHYMINDEDNESS
Happiness is mans chief concern"Once-born" and "twice-born" charactersWalt WhitmanMixed nature of Greek feelingSystematic healthy-mindednessIts reasonablenessLiberal Christianity shows itOptimism as encouraged by Popular ScienceThe "Mind-cure" movementIts creedCasesIts doctrine of evilIts analogy to Lutheran theologySalvation by relaxationIts methods: suggestionmeditation"recollection"verificationDiversity of possible schemes of adaptation to the universeAPPENDIX: TWO mind-cure cases.
LECTURES VI AND VII
THE SICK SOUL
Healthy-mindedness and repentanceEssential pluralism of the healthy-minded philosophyMorbid-mindedness: its two degreesThe pain-threshold varies in individualsInsecurity of natural goodsFailure, or vain success of every lifePessimism of all pure naturalismHopelessness of Greek and Roman viewPathological unhappiness"Anhedonia"Querulous melancholyVital zest is a pure giftLoss of it makes physical world look differentTolstoyBunyanAllineMorbid fearSuch cases need a supernatural religion for reliefAntagonism of healthy-mindedness and morbidnessThe problem of evil cannot be escaped.
THE DIVIDED SELF, AND THE PROCESS OF ITS UNIFICATION
Heterogeneous personalityCharacter gradually attains unityExamples of divided selfThe unity attained need not be religious"Counter conversion" casesOther casesGradual and sudden unificationTolstoys recoveryBunyans.
Case of Stephen BradleyThe psychology of character-changesEmotional excitements make new centres of personal energySchematic ways of representing thisStarbuck likens conversion to normal moral ripeningLeubas ideasSeemingly unconvertible personsTwo types of conversionSubconscious incubation of motivesSelf-surrenderIts importance in religious historyCases.
Cases of sudden conversionIs suddenness essential?-- No, it depends on psychological idiosyncrasyProved existence of transmarginal, or subliminal, consciousness"Automatisms" Instantaneous conversions seem due to the possession of an active subconscious self by the subjectThe value of conversion depends not on the process, but on the fruitsThese are not superior in sudden conversionProfessor Coes viewsSanctification as a resultOur psychological account does not exclude direct presence of the DeitySense of higher controlRelations of the emotional "faith-state" to intellectual beliefsLeuba quotedCharacteristics of the faith-state: sense of truth; the world appears newSensory and motor automatismsPermanency of conversions.
LECTURES XI, XII, AND XIII
Sainte-Beuve on the State of GraceTypes of character as due to the balance of impulses and inhibitionsSovereign excitementsIrascibilityEffects of higher excitement in generalThe saintly life is ruled by spiritual excitementThis may annul sensual impulses permanentlyProbable subconscious influences involvedMechanical scheme for representing permanent alteration in characterCharacteristics of saintlinessSense of reality of a higher powerPeace of mind, charityEquanimity, fortitude, etc.Connection of this with relaxationPurity of lifeAsceticismObediencePovertyThe sentiments of democracy and of humanityGeneral effects of higher excitements.
LECTURES XIV AND XV
THE VALUE OF SAINTLINESS
It must be tested by the human value of its fruitsThe reality of the God must, however, also be judged"Unfit" religions get eliminated by "experience"Empiricism is not skepticismIndividual and tribal religionLoneliness of religious originatorsCorruption follows successExtravagancesExcessive devoutness, as fanaticismAs theopathic absorptionExcessive purityExcessive charityThe perfect man is adapted only to the perfect environmentSaints are leavensExcesses of asceticism---- Asceticism symbolically stands for the heroic lifeMilitarism and voluntary poverty as possible equivalentsPros and cons of the saintly characterSaints versus "strong" menTheir social function must be consideredAbstractly the saint is the highest type, but in the present environment it may fail, so we make ourselves saints at our perilThe question of theological truth.
LECTURES XVI AND XVII
Mysticism definedFour marks of mystic statesThey form a distinct region of consciousnessExamples of their lower gradesMysticism and alcohol"The anaesthetic revelation"Religious mysticismAspects of NatureConsciousness of God"Cosmic consciousness"YogaBuddhistic mysticismSufismChristian mysticsTheir sense of revelationTonic effects of mystic statesThey describe by negativesSense of union with the AbsoluteMysticism and musicThree conclusions-- (1) Mystical states carry authority for him who has them-- (2) But for no one else-- (3) Nevertheless, they break down the exclusive authority of rationalistic statesThey strengthen monistic and optimistic hypotheses.
Primacy of feeling in religion, philosophy being a secondary functionIntellectualism professes to escape objective standards in her theological constructions"Dogmatic theology"Criticism of its account of Gods attributes"Pragmatism" as a test of the value of conceptionsGods metaphysical attributes have no practical significanceHis moral attributes are proved by bad arguments; collapse of systematic theologyDoes transcendental idealism fare better? Its principlesQuotations from John CairdThey are good as restatements of religious experience, but uncoercive as reasoned proofWhat philosophy CAN do for religion by transforming herself into "science of religions."
Aesthetic elements in religionContrast of Catholicism and ProtestantismSacrifice and ConfessionPrayerReligion holds that spiritual work is really effected in prayerThree degrees of opinion as to what is effectedFirst degreeSecond degree-- Third degree-- Automatisms, their frequency among religious leadersJewish casesMohammedJoseph SmithReligion and the subconscious region in general.
Summary of religious characteristicsMens religions need not be identical"The science of religions" can only suggest, not proclaims a religious creedIs religion a "survival" of primitive thought?-- Modern science rules out the concept of personalityAnthropomorphism and belief in the personal characterized pre-scientific thoughtPersonal forces are real, in spite of thisScientific objects are abstractions, only individualized experiences are concreteReligion holds by the concretePrimarily religion is a biological reactionIts simplest terms are an uneasiness and a deliverance; description of the deliveranceQuestion of the reality of the higher powerThe authors hypotheses: 1. The subconscious self as intermediating between nature and the higher region-- 2. The higher region, or "God"-- 3. He produces real effects in nature.
Philosophic position of the present work defined as piecemeal supernaturalismCriticism of universalistic supernaturalismDifferent principles must occasion differences in factWhat differences in fact can Gods existence occasion?-- The question of immortalityQuestion of Gods uniqueness and infinity: religious experience does not settle this question in the affirmativeThe pluralistic hypothesis is more conformed to common sense.
human-nature.com © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young - Last updated: 28 May, 2005 02:29 PM