The Varieties of Religious Experience | Study Guide

William James

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The Varieties of Religious Experience | Section Summaries


Section Summaries Chart

Section Summary
Author's Preface James mentions that this volume was an outgrowth of two courses of 10 lectures he delivered as a Gifford Lecturer on Nat... Read More
Lecture 1 James begins by saying he is neither a theologian, scholar of the history of religions, nor an anthropologist. Since his... Read More
Lecture 2 The word religion cannot stand for a single principle nor essence, and "religious sentiment" may be variously defined. F... Read More
Lecture 3 James devotes Lecture 3 to the "psychological peculiarities" seen in persons with a belief in an "unseen order." He note... Read More
Lectures 4 and 5 Most people believe that happiness is the chief purpose of human life, and religion can be a source of joy. James wishes... Read More
Lectures 6 and 7 Lecture 6 begins with a review of the healthy-minded temperament, and James mentions the Dutch philosopher Spinoza as an... Read More
Lecture 8 Lecture 8 continues with a discussion of the twice-born, who have two lives, the natural and the spiritual, and they mus... Read More
Lecture 9 Conversion is the process by which a person gains grace or receives assurance, either gradually or all at once, about th... Read More
Lecture 10 Lecture 10 covers in greater detail the "conversion of self-surrender," beginning with Henry Alline's account (the evang... Read More
Lectures 11, 12, and 13 James begins this set of lectures by reminding the reader he has embarked on an empirical inquiry for the purpose of jud... Read More
Lectures 14 and 15 While the previous three lectures were primarily descriptions of saintly behavior, the next two turn to appreciation of ... Read More
Lectures 16 and 17 James begins this chapter by asserting that personal religious experience is rooted in mystical states of consciousness.... Read More
Lecture 18 James now turns to the question of whether philosophy can "stamp a warrant of veracity upon the religious man's sense of... Read More
Lecture 19 James returns to empirical philosophy to determine the truth of religion. "The true is what works well, even though the ... Read More
Lecture 20 James sums up the beliefs of the religious as follows: The visible world belongs to a larger spiritual world from ... Read More
Postscript James writes a postscript in an attempt to reveal his "general philosophical position," which he intends to elaborate on... Read More
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