Talk:The Varieties of Religious Experience

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Request for your aid dealing with actions from a user against Religious, Spiritual and Esoteric articles[edit]

User:Baphomet. is damaging Wikipedia: he his trying to label Religious articles as Superstition (from a POV view of positivism, that he calls Science). At the article Reincarnation he just went on to add to category "Superstition" and later on without discussion put a POV msg in the article. Please see the discussion page between both of us Talk:Reincarnation#Superstition.

Through the use of a Culture created by extremism in Science, he is clearly trying to do the job that the Inquisition did in the Middle Ages in a Culture created by extremism in Religion. He is damaging Wikipedia in a subtle invious way!

Please see also the Alert message I have created at Wikipedia:Wikiquette_alerts#September_4, Thank you! --GalaazV 20:25, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

This related category is also under target!

Article content[edit]

Though this article has some substance, it needs some major work to better represent James' ideas. As the lectures follow a logical progression, this article would benefit from a similar treatment. His lectures on mysticism, religious philosophy, conversion, and the value of saintliness are not given sufficient treatment (or any treatment at all). Secondly, there is a slight bias portraying James in an anti-atheistic light. James has come under fire from Christians and atheists alike (among other critics) for views uncomplimentary to their own. James does not presuppose a theistic viewpoint, but is rather interested in a pragmatic approach to judging the fruits of religion apart from any particular belief system. This article also suggests that pragmatism was still in conception whereas in the lectures, James cites C.S. Peirce's pragmatic principles and their use in examining potential benefit and harm from a religious lifestyle. Pragmatism was already a fairly coherent, if not complete, philosophical system by the time of James' lectures. The pragmatic method, then plays an important part in James' approach, but the caveat at the beginning of the article against interpreting the lectures as an extension of pragmatism is more appropriate as a parenthetical note with some adjustments. The quotation at the head of the article, though interesting, though characteristic of James' pithy, sometimes controversial style, does not embody the programme of the book as a whole. It DOES embody the preliminary apology James gives in defense of religion in response to Darwinian materialism. Later in the book, James affirms his agreement with Darwin's Theory in unequivocal terms. Also, James spends an entire chapter on the value of saintliness which is a little stronger on the excesses of saintly characteristics such as fanaticism. James does not restrict his lectures to Christianity and agnosticism, but presents quotations and ideas from Sufiism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. I get the impression that the article was mostly written by someone who read the first several chapters and dropped off at that point, or lost interest in fleshing out the other half of the article.

Above all, representation of the work must be very careful, and guided by secondary sources. Injudicious redaction can easily reduce James' work to a caricature of extreme Protestantism, Catholicism, Spiritism, Agnosticism, or Relativism. --JECompton 23:16, 27 October 2005 (UTC)

Healthy mindedness[edit]

As I recal, in the section on Healthy mindedness he quotes substantially from Emerson. 00:57, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

The First Box Quote[edit]

Whoever added the quote concerning how physiological factors decide the difference between the atheist and the Methodist preacher completely missed the point of the lectures. James is asserting in that quote that just because the physiological decides our religious experience, it in no way denigrates the value of the experience. James tells us that everything we experience, emphasizing especially scientific materialism, comes from the body, and no one attacks a scientific theory by attacking the state of the scientist's body. This key difference sets the tone for the whole lectures as respectful of religious experience as opposed to merely reductionist. --anon. entry by User: 4 March, 2006

Criticism section[edit]

No citations currently exist in the criticism section, suggesting that they are only an editor's opinon. One of the criticisms was removed and placed here: They do not attempt to explain the phenomenon of institutional religion, or the psychology of religion in groups. Some critics believe the social aspects of religion cannot be ignored; a dynamic between society and the individual play a role in an individual's religious persuasion. This criticism is not valid because James carefully explains in the second lecture the scope of his talks, which excludes consideration of institutional religion or sociology of religion because this is a psychological study. In his own words, "The field of religion being as wide as this, it is manifestly impossible that I should pretend to cover it. My lectures must be limited to a fraction of the subject." Others are free to study whatever aspects of religion they wish, but this one is about experience, not a comprehensive study of religion in general. --Blainster 00:00, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

Valid analogy?[edit]

A couple attend a magician's performance. The wife reacts with excitement, joy and enthusiasm as the magician works through his routine. The husband, meanwhile, sits there sullenly, later complaining that he took no satisfaction at all from the evenings entertainment, remarking that he knows how the tricks work. The wife, indeed, is suffering a delusion (if not wilful suspension of disbelief). But would we be right admiring her superior psychological adjustment?

Is this the philosophy of of William James?

Point to ponder: Doesn't the wife's happiness come at a price: later disallusionment and, very likely, victimisation by any shrewd huckster who understand how to manipulate her irrational beliefs?

Philopedia 23:01, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

POV in intro[edit]

I'm deleting the "pioneering" peacock word in the intro. I am a huge William James fan (BTW I highly recommend The Metaphysical Club as a "gateway" of sorts) but this word is way over the line. Mistercupcake 06:51, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Healthy Mindedness[edit]

This could probably be written as a break-out article.

Find sources: "healthy mindedness" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · HighBeam · JSTOR · free images · free news sources · The Wikipedia Library · NYT · WP reference It seems to be where the idea for Psychological mindedness came from. --Firefly322 (talk) 16:08, 5 August 2008 (UTC)


I would highly not recommend using this page as a source for legit information concerning William James's 'Varieties of religious experience". It is not an accurate account of what James says in the book. Try the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, or actually read it (if you have time to do so). I read the book and did an in-depth study on it, and it deals with a lot of issues, most of them being of a far greater importance then this page gives credit for. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Amber christina (talkcontribs) 18:58, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for your suggestion. When you believe an article needs improvement, please feel free to make those changes. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the edit this page link at the top. The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold in updating pages. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes—they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome. You don't even need to log in (although there are many reasons why you might want to). — goethean 19:26, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Not a good example[edit]

It would be better not to bring the El Greco fallacy into this. In fact, if El G.had been astigmatic, the picture on his easel and the real figures in the environment would have been equally distorted, so he would have had to draw "correctly" in order for his drawings to appear to him to match the real figures. This is of course completely irrelevant to James' work-- I'm just showing why it's a bad example to use. (talk) 19:23, 19 January 2011 (UTC) Jean Mercer