William James' views on religious experience.

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1. What's it mean if a mystical experience is ineffable?

  • Beyond proper description, no description from words.
  • not just feelings, gives deep and direct knowledge of God.
  • Temporary, cannot be sustained- effects may last and subseque
  • Not initiated by the mystic, they have a sense of something acting upon them.
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2. What did William James see religion as?

  • Mass (worldwide) hysteria.
  • Childhood abuse leading to unrealistic delusions to account for a lack of a stable father figure.
  • 'the feelings,acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine'
  • 'The opium of the people'

3. How many Americans did the RERC find 'felt close to a powerful spiritual force?' or have an experience they found religious.

  • 35%
  • 50%
  • 22%
  • 11%

4. What's a Numinous Experience?

  • Same as a corporate experience.
  • Awe and wonder in the presence of God.
  • Direct oneness with God
  • Horror at seeing a deity.

5. What's a Corporate experience?

  • Alone with God.
  • Direct oneness with God.
  • A number of people having a religious experience at the same time an in the same place.
  • Thinking of God.


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