The Varieties of Religious Experience Reflections On Its Enduring Value

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After one hundred years of new research, new ideas, new methodologies, is it really possible that The Varieties of Religious Experience still has something worthwhile to offer? Is it really possible to penetrate the early twentieth century prose and discover insights that can speak to a modern, even postmodern, audience? Yes. Without a doubt, yes. This text is an undeniable classic. The primary difficulty is not how to uncover the gems that are strewn throughout the text, but rather, how to choose which gems are the most brilliant, which most deserve close scrutiny in the context of this essay. What follows are a few carefully delimited attempts to cull from this classic work several compelling Jamesian insights that clearly demonstrate the enduring value of the Varieties, that show how, if taken seriously, it continues to offer viable, and valuable, solutions to many of the dilemmas that are today troubling a wide variety of disciplines, particularly in the fields of religion, psychology, mysticism and consciousness studies.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Religious Studies Department, Southern Methodist University, PO Box 750202, Dallas, TX 75275-0202, USA.

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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