The Varieties of Religious Experience Essay

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Whatever philosophical conclusions were to result from his inquiry, James was convinced that a psychological approach was necessary because of the intimate connection religion bears to individual, personal experience. It was for this reason that he turned to works of piety, autobiographies, confessions, and diaries for his primary material. He made clear at the outset that the question as to what the religious propensities are and what their philosophical significance may be represent two distinct and different orders of question. This distinction in turn translates itself into the difference between determining the origin and nature of something and seeking for its meaning or importance. The former he called an existential proposition and the latter a judgment of value. James held that neither "can be deduced immediately from the other," but that the two can be connected through a theory specifying what peculiarities a feeling, state of mind, or...

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