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William James' Varieties of Religious Experience and Jungian Varieties of Human Nature: the nature of the relationship between religious experience, belief and psychological type

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In his book The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James pro posed that the varieties of religious experience and belief are dependent upon the varieties of human nature and human circumstances. In theory, these varieties are diverse. In practice, most of James' examples were from the western religious traditions. Furthermore, he employed a broad and complex understanding of religious experience, and focused primarily upon a restrictive and problematic typology of human nature which distinguished 'healthy- mindedness' from 'the sick soul'. In this article, James' notion of the relationship between religious experience and human nature is reviewed in the light of more recent research, and in particular in the light of Jungian type theory. Although James' specific hypotheses were somewhat limiting, there is now good evidence to suggest that his general principle, that the varieties of religious experience are dependent upon the varieties of human nature, is indeed upheld.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Professor of the Psychiatry of Alcohol Misuse, Kent Institute of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7PD, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2003

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