The Varieties of Religious Experience
James (William), Marty (Martin E.)
Source: James, Marty - The Varieties of Religious Experience
Paper - Abstract

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  1. LECTURE I: Religion and Neurology
    • Introduction: the course is not anthropological, but deals with personal documents
    • Questions of fact and questions of value
    • In point of fact, the religious are often neurotic
    • Criticism of medical materialism, which condemns religion on that account
    • Theory that religion has a sexual origin refuted
    • All states of mind are neurally conditioned
    • Their significance must be tested not by their origin but by the value of their fruits
    • Three criteria of value; origin useless as a criterion
    • Advantages of the psychopathic1 temperament when a superior intellect goes with it
    • especially for the religious life
  2. LECTURE II: Circumscription of the Topic
    • Futility of simple definitions of religion
    • No one specific "religious sentiment"
    • Institutional and personal religion
    • We confine ourselves to the personal branch
    • Definition of religion for the purpose of these lectures
    • Meaning of the term "divine"
    • The divine is what prompts solemn reactions
    • Impossible to make our definitions sharp
    • We must study the more extreme cases
    • Two ways of accepting the universe
    • Religion is more enthusiastic than philosophy
    • Its characteristic is enthusiasm in solemn emotion
    • Its ability to overcome unhappiness
    • Need of such a faculty from the biological point of view
  3. LECTURE III: The Reality of the Unseen
    • Percepts versus abstract concepts
    • Influence of the latter on belief
    • Kant's theological Ideas
    • We have a sense of reality other than that given by the special senses
    • Examples of "sense of presence"
    • The feeling of unreality
    • Sense of a divine presence: examples
    • Mystical experiences: examples
    • Other cases of sense of God's presence
    • Convincingness of unreasoned experience
    • Inferiority of rationalism in establishing belief
    • Either enthusiasm or solemnity may preponderate in the religious attitude of individuals
  4. LECTURES IV AND V: The Religion of Healthy-Mindedness
    • Happiness is man's chief concern
    • "Once-born" and "twice-born" characters
    • Walt Whitman
    • Mixed nature of Greek feeling
    • Systematic healthy-mindedness
    • Its reasonableness
    • Liberal Christianity shows it
    • Optimism as encouraged by Popular Science
    • The "Mind-cure" movement
    • Its creed
    • Cases
    • Its doctrine of evil
    • Its analogy to Lutheran theology
    • Salvation by relaxation
    • Its methods: suggestion, meditation, "recollection", verification
    • Diversity of possible schemes of adaptation to the universe
    • APPENDIX: Two mind-cure cases
  5. LECTURES VI AND VII: The Sick Soul
    • Healthy-mindedness and repentance
    • Essential pluralism of the healthy-minded philosophy
    • Morbid-mindedness: its two degrees
    • The pain-threshold varies in individuals
    • Insecurity of natural goods
    • Failure, or vain success of every life
    • Pessimism of all pure naturalism
    • Hopelessness of Greek and Roman view
    • Pathological unhappiness
    • "Anhedonia"
    • Querulous melancholy
    • Vital zest is a pure gift
    • Loss of it makes physical world look different
    • Tolstoy
    • Bunyan
    • Alline
    • Morbid fear
    • Such cases need a supernatural religion for relief
    • Antagonism of healthy-mindedness and morbidness
    • The problem of evil cannot be escaped
  6. LECTURE VIII: The Divided Self, and the Process of Its Unification
    • Heterogeneous personality
    • Character gradually attains unity2
    • Examples of divided self
    • The unity3 attained need not be religious
    • "Counter conversion" cases
    • Other cases
    • Gradual and sudden unification
    • Tolstoy's recovery
    • Bunyan's
  7. LECTURE IX: Conversion
    • Case of Stephen Bradley
    • The psychology of character-changes
    • Emotional excitements make new centres of personal energy
    • Schematic ways of representing this
    • Starbuck likens conversion to normal moral ripening
    • Leuba's ideas-
    • Seemingly unconvertible persons
    • Two types of conversion
    • Subconscious incubation of motives
    • Self-surrender
    • Its importance in religious history
    • Cases
  8. LECTURE X: Conversion – Concluded
    • Cases of sudden conversion
    • Is suddenness essential?
    • No, it depends on psychological idiosyncrasy
    • Proved existence of transmarginal, or subliminal, consciousness
    • "Automatisms"
    • Instantaneous conversions seem due to the possession of an active subconscious self by the subject
    • The value of conversion depends not on the process, but on the fruits
    • These are not superior in sudden conversion
    • Professor Coe's views
    • Sanctification as a result
    • Our psychological account does not exclude direct presence of the Deity
    • Sense of higher control
    • Relations of the emotional "faith-state" to intellectual beliefs
    • Leuba quoted
    • Characteristics of the faith-state: sense of truth; the world appears new
    • Sensory and motor automatisms
    • Permanency of conversions
  9. LECTURES XI, XII, AND XIII: Saintliness
    • Sainte-Beuve on the State of Grace
    • Types of character as due to the balance of impulses and inhibitions
    • Sovereign excitements
    • Irascibility
    • Effects of higher excitement in general
    • The saintly life is ruled by spiritual excitement
    • This may annul sensual impulses permanently
    • Probable subconscious influences involved
    • Mechanical scheme for representing permanent alteration in character
    • Characteristics of saintliness
    • Sense of reality of a higher power
    • Peace of mind, charity
    • Equanimity, fortitude, etc.
    • Connection of this with relaxation
    • Purity of life
    • Asceticism
    • Obedience
    • Poverty
    • The sentiments of democracy and of humanity
    • General effects of higher excitements
  10. LECTURES XIV AND XV: The Value Of Saintliness
    • It must be tested by the human value of its fruits
    • The reality of the God must, however, also be judged
    • "Unfit" religions get eliminated by "experience"
    • Empiricism is not scepticism
    • Individual and tribal religion
    • Loneliness of religious originators
    • Corruption follows success
    • Extravagances
    • Excessive devoutness, as fanaticism
    • As theopathic absorption
    • Excessive purity
    • Excessive charity
    • The perfect man is adapted only to the perfect environment
    • Saints are leavens
    • Excesses of asceticism
    • Asceticism symbolically stands for the heroic life
    • Militarism and voluntary poverty as possible equivalents
    • Pros and cons of the saintly character
    • Saints versus "strong" men
    • Their social function must be considered
    • Abstractly the saint is the highest type, but in the present environment it may fail, so we make ourselves saints at our peril
    • The question of theological truth
  11. LECTURES XVI AND XVII: Mysticism
    • Mysticism defined
    • Four marks of mystic states
    • They form a distinct region of consciousness
    • Examples of their lower grades
    • Mysticism and alcohol
    • "The anaesthetic revelation"
    • Religious mysticism
    • Aspects of Nature
    • Consciousness of God
    • "Cosmic consciousness"
    • Yoga
    • Buddhistic mysticism
    • Sufism
    • Christian mystics
    • Their sense of revelation
    • Tonic effects of mystic states
    • They describe by negatives
    • Sense of union with the Absolute
    • Mysticism and music
    • Three 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 states
    • They strengthen monistic and optimistic hypotheses.
  12. LECTURE XVIII: Philosophy
    • Primacy of feeling in religion, philosophy being a secondary function
    • Intellectualism professes to escape objective standards in her theological constructions
    • "Dogmatic theology"
    • Criticism of its account of God's attributes
    • "Pragmatism" as a test of the value of conceptions
    • God's metaphysical attributes have no practical significance
    • His moral attributes are proved by bad arguments; collapse of systematic theology
    • Does transcendental idealism fare better? Its principles
    • Quotations from John Caird
    • They are good as restatements of religious experience, but uncoercive as reasoned proof
    • What philosophy can do for religion by transforming herself into "science of religions."
  13. LECTURE XIX: Other Characteristics
    • Aesthetic elements in religion
    • Contrast of Catholicism and Protestantism
    • Sacrifice and Confession
    • Prayer
    • Religion holds that spiritual work is really effected in prayer
    • Three degrees of opinion as to what is effected
    • Automatisms, their frequency among religious leaders
    • Jewish cases
    • Mohammed
    • Joseph Smith
    • Religion and the subconscious region in general
  14. LECTURE XX: Conclusions
    • Summary of religious characteristics
    • Men's religions need not be identical
    • "The science of religions" can only suggest, not proclaim, a religious creed
    • Is religion a "survival" of primitive thought?
    • Modern science rules out the concept of personality
    • Anthropomorphism and belief in the personal characterized pre-scientific thought
    • Personal forces are real, in spite of this
    • Scientific objects are abstractions, only individualized experiences are concrete
    • Religion holds by the concrete
    • Primarily religion is a biological reaction
    • Its simplest terms are an uneasiness and a deliverance; description of the deliverance
    • Question of the reality of the higher power
    • The author's 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 supernaturalism
    • Criticism of universalistic supernaturalism
    • Different principles must occasion differences in fact
    • What differences in fact can God's existence occasion?
    • The question of immortality
    • Question of God's uniqueness and infinity: religious experience does not settle this question in the affirmative
    • The pluralistic hypothesis is more conformed to common sense.

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