Varieties of Religious Experience
by William James
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This collection of 20 lectures was presented by William
James at the 1901-1902 Gifford Lectures in Edinburgh. In these
lectures, James explores individual religious experience as it varies
among humans. James associates religious experience with the feelings
and actions of individuals in a relationship with what they believe to
be the Divine. James digs deep into the psychological underpinnings of
religious experience; he is less concerned with studying religious
institutions and theology. He discusses the origin, nature, and
variation of religious experience and raises questions about its power.
Some of his lectures focus on conversion, others on mysticism or virtue.
His empirical study of human nature and individual religious experiences
is remarkable complex, and yet his style of presentation is accessible
to a wide variety of audiences. James' lectures come together to form
the brilliant intertwining of religion, philosophy, and
CCEL Staff Writer