In 1901 William James came to Edinburgh, Scotland to deliver a series of public lectures. He delivered an original interllectual project. A close-up examination of religion not as a body of beliefs, but as an intimate personal experience.
William James did not make a "case" for belief, or any case for any particular religious "system". He studied religious experience, trying to get to the bottom of what brings it about and what it means for human beings. Thus, he payed little attention to what we call "organized religion." He spends his time, rather, with the various ways that people have experienced God or the supernatural or the spiritual.
He gave a powerful analysis of what it can, should, and does mean to men and women in the modern world.
When they were printed as 'The Varieties Of Religious Experience: A Study In Human Nature'. They laid the ground for a whole new area of study - the psychology of religion - and influenced people from the psychiatrist Carl Jung to the Novelist Aldous Huxley. If you wish to understand modern thought on religion, you must read James, for much of it springs from his thought.
To date, James' book has been reprinted thirty-six times and has been hailed as one of the best non-fiction books of the twentieth century.
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