Tuesday, November 23, 2004
The Varieties of Religious Experience—William James
Of course, James as well as I, find this to be absolutely absurd! And secretly somewhat funny too :-) In the second lecture “Circumscription of the Topic", James explains what it is exactly he is going to be discussing. He attempts to create definitions for the terms “religion” and “the divine”. I still am not quite sure what his final definitions came out to be…I would have to re-read this chapter a couple more times to figure that out! So for now I am just going to skip his definitions, because even he said they are too abstract a term to explain exactly. However, in this chapter I think I discovered, what I am assuming to be his thesis statement for the series of lectures, “We shall see how infinitely passionate a thing religion at its highest flights can be. Like love, like wrath, like hope, ambition, jealousy, like every other instinctive eagerness and impulse, it adds to life an enchantment which is not rationally or logically deducible from anything else.” (James p. 52). His chapters, which where lectures, are filled with so much information, it is hard to summarize them in a short but logical manner. However, the main points I feel James is striving to get across are that religion and its experiences can’t be deduced to mere physical ailments, and that religion, is something more profound, less explainable than philosophy. So with this in mind, we can now proceed (in a few days when I actually have time to read, with the holidays and all) to the third lecture “The Reality of the Unseen.”
Comments, questions, rants?