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Varieties Of Religious Experience, By William James
book would never have been written had I not been honored
with an appointment as Gifford Lecturer on Natural Religion
at the University of Edinburgh.
In casting about me for subjects of the two courses
of ten lectures each for which I thus became responsible,
it seemed to me that the first course might well be a descriptive
one on "Man's Religious Appetites," and the second
a metaphysical one on "Their Satisfaction through Philosophy."
But the unexpected growth of the psychological
matter as I came to write it out has resulted in the second
subject being postponed entirely, and the description of
man's religious constitution now fills the twenty lectures.
In Lecture XX I have suggested rather than stated
my own philosophic conclusions, and the reader who desires
immediately to know them should turn to
pages 501-509, and to the "Postscript"
of the book. I hope to be able at some later day to express
them in more explicit form.
my belief that a large acquaintance with particulars often
makes us wiser than the possession of abstract formulas,
however deep, I have loaded the lectures with concrete examples,
and I have chosen these among the extremer expressions of
the religious temperament.
To some readers I may consequently seem, before they
get beyond the middle of the book, to offer a caricature
of the subject. Such
convulsions of piety, they will say, are not sane.
If, however, they will have the patience to read
to the end, I believe that this unfavorable impression will
disappear; for I there combine the religious impulses with
other principles of common sense which serve as correctives
of exaggeration, and allow the individual reader to draw
as moderate conclusions as he will.
thanks for help in writing these lectures are due to Edwin
D. Starbuck, of Stanford University, who made over to me
his large collection of manuscript material; to Henry W.
Rankin, of East Northfield, a friend unseen but proved,
to whom I owe precious information; to Theodore Flournoy,
of Geneva, to Canning Schiller of Oxford, and to my colleague
Benjamin Rand, for documents; to my colleague Dickinson
S. Miller, and to my friends, Thomas Wren Ward, of New York,
and Wincenty Lutoslawski, late of Cracow, for important
suggestions and advice.
Finally, to conversations with the lamented Thomas
Davidson and to the use of his books, at Glenmore, above
Keene Valley, I owe more obligations than I can well express.
Harvard University, March, 1902.