A very good overview of some of the issues in religious experience
This is the essay title I would like you to do Year 13. Treat it as you would any of the other arguments for God. Use the handouts but also refer to other philosophers and thinkers such as Swinburne and Freud.
This post is for my Year 13 Philosophers! If you go to the online text of William James found here you will see the first lecture in which he presents his main aims and methodology. I would like you to find out a bit more about this by reading one of the sections of this first lecture (set out below), and commenting in the comments box on this post what you think James is trying to do. Some possible things to look at might be: What is the method that James uses to examine religious experience? What does he present in the lectures? Why does James think it is important to distinguish questions of fact from questions of value? What are his criticisms of materialism, and freudian psychological explanations of religion? Why is the origin of a religious experience useless to assess its value? If you are stuck I recommend taking a look at my summaries of the aims and conclusions elsewhere on this site.
Lecture 1 – Religion and Neurology
Introduction: the course is not anthropological, but deals with personal documents;
Questions of fact and questions of value;
In point of fact, the religious are often neurotic;
Criticism of medical materialism, which condemns religion on that account;
Theory that religion has a sexual origin refuted;
All states of mind are neurally conditioned;
Their significance must be tested not by their origin but by the value of their fruits;
Three criteria of value; origin useless as a criterion;
Advantages of the psychopathic temperament when a superior intellect goes with it; especially for the religious life