William James: Varieties of Religious Experience.

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  • William James: Varieties of Religious Experience.
    • Criteria for Mystical Experience.
      • Mystical Experience = Where God is revealed directly and there is a sense of oneness  withe the divinne, ultimate reality.
      • PINT!
        • PASSIVE: Experience is not initiated by the mystic but instead they have a sense that something is acting upon them.
        • INEFFABLE: Experience is beyond proper description. No adequate description can be given in words.
        • NOETIC: Experience gives the mystic a deep and direct knowledge of God.
        • TRANSIENT: Experience is temporary, one that cannot be sustained - although its effects may be long lasting.
    • His conclusions.
      • Used his knowledge of psychology and neurology to accept that R.E's are a psychological phenomena that occur in our brains.
        • However, does not mean that they ARE a psychological phenomena. Could have a supernatural element as well as a physical element.
      • EMPIRICISM: Many case studies he produces are empirical evidence of the effects of R.E. Provides us with clues to the reality behind what we see and hear.
      • PLURALISM: His research into different experiences into different faiths led him to conclude that they were similar.   Those having experiences may be experiencing the same ultimate reality but it is then interpreted into the 'second hand' religious belief structure.
        • A Christian might interpret an experience as the presence of the Holy Spirit, a Hindu might interpret it differently.
      • PEP
        • PRAGMATISM: Vital to the understanding of James' work. Truth is NOT fixed. What is true is whatever has great value for us.
          • THEREFORE: On observing the effects of R.E's we HAVE to conclude that there IS some truth to be found in religion.
    • James was not just a philosopher, he was also a psychologist - Remember this as he applies his knowledge of psychology to his conclusions!
  • James was not just a philosopher, he was also a psychologist - Remember this as he applies his knowledge of psychology to his conclusions!

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