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Religious Experience Varieties and Evaluations
William James (1842-1910) Varieties of Religious Experience Rudolf Otto (1869-1937) The Idea of the Holy Explorations of Religious Experience
Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) • “Religion, therefore, as I now ask you arbitrarily to take it, shall mean for us the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men [sic] in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.”
Varieties of Religious Experience • “The divine shall mean for us only such a primal reality as the individual feels impelled to respond to solemnly and gravely, and neither by a curse nor a jest.”
Varieties of Religious Experience • “We may now lay it down as certain that in the distinctively religious sphere of experience, many persons (how many we cannot tell) possess the objects of their belief, not in the form of mere conceptions which their intellect accepts as true, but rather in the form of quasi-sensible realities directly apprehended.”
Varieties of Religious Experience • “in the metaphysical and religious sphere, articulate reasons are cogent for us only when inarticulate feelings of reality have already been impressed in favor of the same conclusion.”
Varieties of Religious Experience • Pragmatic evaluation • Over-belief for making a personal venture despite lack of rational knowledge • “Who knows whether the faithfulness of individuals here below to their own poor over-beliefs may not actually help God in turn to be more effectively faithful to his own greater tasks?”
The Idea of the Holy(1923) • The rational and the non-rational • Rational can be grasped by the intellect, analyzed by thought, and admit of definition • Rational can not provide complete experience of the divine; it is not exhaustive • There is non-rational comprehension of the profounder levels of divinity • This is the holy or the sacred
The Idea of the Holy • The numinous state of mind • This cannot be taught, but it can be evoked or awakened
The Idea of the Holy • The numinous is felt as objective and outside the self. • It is the Mysterium Tremendum • Absolute unapproachability • Absolute overpoweringness • Energy or urgency • Wholly Other
Black Elk’s Vision • What is the vision? • What is it taken to mean? • How does this vision confirm anything about either James or Otto’s work on religious experience?