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Varieties of Religious Experience by William James - Online Seminar Series

Agora Foundation Online Seminar Series - 
Varieties of Religious Experience by William James

“We must judge the tree by its fruit. The best fruits of the religious experience are the best things history has to offer. The highest flights of charity, devotion, trust, patience, and bravery to which the wings of human nature have spread themselves, have all been flown for religious ideals.”

The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature is a book by Harvard University psychologist and philosopher William James. It comprises his edited Gifford Lectures (20 in total) on natural theology, which were delivered at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland between 1901 and 1902. The lectures concern the psychological study of individual private religious experiences and mysticism, and use a range of examples to identify commonalities in religious experiences across traditions. James concludes that religion is overall beneficial to humankind, although acknowledges that this does not establish its truth. He also considers the possibility of over-beliefs, beliefs which are not strictly justified by reason but which might understandably be held by educated people nonetheless, and had relatively little interest in the legitimacy or illegitimacy of religious experiences. Join us as we work through these lectures, with online seminars taking place about one month apart. 

Next Event in the series:

Sunday, June 23, 2024 - 12:00-2:00PM PDT

June 23 Reading:

Lecture Nineteen - Other Characteristics

(pages 459-484)

The Varieties of Religious Experience 

Penguin Classics; Later Printing edition
(December 16, 1982) - ISBN 978-0140390346


12:00-2:00PM PDT



Andy Gilman


Online. Register to receive the link. 

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