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Will james[1]

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Will james[1]

  1. 1. William James 1842-1910 Pragmatic American School of Psychology:Humanistic, Conscious Psychology
  2. 2. Key Questions• What was James most concerned with?• What is our basic existential problem?• How did James view religion?
  3. 3. Intro William James• Concern?• The worth and growth of the self• We need to become ourselves• Key insight?• b/c of our need for acceptance by others, we are willing to deny the growth of true self
  4. 4. Our Problem?• Need so much to be loved by significant other, we deny or distort or needs• Therapy? A process of getting in touch with what and how we actually feel about our experiences• Religion? Helps us get in touch with our experience of God (which we distort); something we cling to when desperate
  5. 5. Biography• Famous family: brother, the novelist Henry James, sister Alice• Family: grandfather William one of wealthiest in America: Father Henry bit of mystic; did not work• depressive• Long interested in the paranormal
  6. 6. Biography continued• Gifted artist• Graduated Harvard 1860• Medical Doctor; taught at Harvard 1872• Best known for Varieties of Religious Experience (1901)• Wrote Principles of Psychology (1883- 1889): most used textbook in psychology
  7. 7. Characteristics of James• Open-minded w/eye of scientist• Many friends but depressive; always sick• Deep need to understand experience• Asked: What is experience trying to teach us?• Father’s influence; “bizarre” but powerful religion• James puzzled/fascinated by this• Varieties attempt to understand this
  8. 8. Views on Religion• Distrustful of organized religion• Sensed something there (God), but no strong sense• Reduced religion to ideals: Goodness, Truth, Simplicity• saw as desirable and valuable but incapable of inspiring any passion
  9. 9. Views on Religion cont• Religion Man’s most important function• Pragmatic: What does religion do for us?• Believed nothing can do for a person what religion can do for a person
  10. 10. James’ Philosophy• How does James’ overall philosophy influence his understanding of religion?• Pragmatism and Pluralism• Varieties of Religious Experience grew out of series of lectures given in Scotland (Gifford Lectures)
  11. 11. Goal of Gifford Lectures• Understand experience of religion by the person• Scientific approach• Approached as Non-believer• Describes nature of conversionary experience
  12. 12. Lecture #1• Wants to distinguish (not separate) between:• Existential judgment (judgment of facts) and…Spiritual fact (judgment of value)• The “facts” of Bible and its value two different things• *judgment of fact cannot determine judgment of value
  13. 13. Religion as “Acute Fever”• Studied religious experience of founding figures of religions• Interested in religion as an “acute fever” rather than dull habit• So many living with “second hand religion”, or someone else’s experience
  14. 14. What makes something True?• “roots” of religion (facts) and fruits (value) of religion• To know one is not to know the other• Truth of something is really a spiritual matter• Truth not in origins but in way it works out as a whole over time (Pragmatic)
  15. 15. Three Criteria for Truth• 1. Immediate luminousness: “Yeah, that’s right!”• 2. Philosophical reasonableness: Does it coincide with most of what we already know?• 3. Morally helpful: Does it aid in living more humanely
  16. 16. Lecture #2: What is Religion Really?• Not a universal term• God not universal concept• No universal religious emotion• Most think of institution, an organization• Really more personal• All religion founded on personal experience
  17. 17. James’ Definition of Religion• the feelings, acts, and experiences of [individuals] in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves in relation to the Divine• very American• Religious person has surrendered to ‘Higher Power’• Religious happiness very unique: no happiness like religious happiness
  18. 18. Lecture #3: Conversionary, “Mystical” Experience• Heart of James• We can all sense reality in way that goes beyond the senses. Meaning?• Extrasensory “sense of a presence”• Leads to “deep understanding” of reality
  19. 19. Religion About Feeling• Need to understand God in conceptual terms: God as Father, God as One, Trinity• James: not how it works: is about feeling• Connected to our body: “organismically” connected to God• *Note: opposite to what Freud says about religious experience
  20. 20. Religion as Feeling: Four Keys Things• 1. Primacy of Feelings: concepts (reason) ultimately based on feelings• 2. Depth of Feeling: unreasoned, intuition, “sense” of truth: concepts only a surface manifestation of this deeper feeling• 3. Feelings as Facts: by themselves concepts have no meaning w/o being based on deeper “felt experience”
  21. 21. Religion as Feeling cont.• 4. Feelings as Knowledge and Truth: feelings are “source of knowledge: Jung took this from James
  22. 22. Two Paradigms of• Paradigm of Control • Paradigm of Surrender• Mind: can be explained • Mind and Body: cannot• Can know about: Great be explained Mystery, Divine: puts God • Become one w/Greater “in a Box” Mystery• Can learn tradition • Feelings: relates• concepts used to control organism to community• Religion: understood in • Spirituality: understood Mind through Body: becomes experiential “door to the world”
  23. 23. Two Orientations of Self: How can we be religiously happy?• Healthy-Minded • Sick Souls• Born happy • Lasting happiness• World is good impossible• Not much self- • We are evil reflection: not needed • There is tragedy, loss, pain • Only hope is to be “born again”
  24. 24. Models of Conversion• From: feelings of loss, depression, lack of meaning,• To feelings of unity with self, God
  25. 25. Two Basic Temperaments (in people)• Tender-Minded • Tough-Minded• Rationalistic (guided • Empiricist (rely on by principles) facts)• Monistic (unity in all • Pluralistic (reality is things) many, not one)• Religious (belief in • Irreligious and principle of unity) skeptical
  26. 26. • Philosophically, James was empiricist and pluralistic• Goal: combining tough-minded approach (scientific, loyal to observable facts) with tender-minded religious sensibilities
  27. 27. Monistic vs Pluralistic View of World• Pluralistic View: • Monistic View:• world is many • assumes deeper different things often meaning to life’s in conflict negative experiences• More empirical : fact- • Tends to resist based concrete facts;• Evil seen as separate • Evil seen as from the Good and mysteriously God: connected to God and the Good
  28. 28. Philosophical Context• Pragmatism: adopted in U.S. more than anywhere else: looks at practical consequences of supposed truths and actions• What is a pragmatic view of life?• What is a pragmatic approach to religious truth?• Practical consequences of viewing world as one or many?
  29. 29. Nature of Truth: Religious and Otherwise• What difference does it make if this is true and that is not? – What is true is what works• But what is goal of held truths (religious)? – Answer must come from somewhere other than reason and rational: deepest human conviction• What is true is what proves itself over time
  30. 30. Open-Book Quiz (10 pts)• 1. Identify and describe the two conflicting concepts of God in James• 2. Which type (healthy-minded religion or religion of the sick-souled) is attracted to which image of God?• 3. What is each type (person) expecting from God?• 4. Describe the religious experience of each• What is the sick soul saved from?• 5. How would you describe your religious personality

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