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Title: Williama Jamesa filozofia doświadczenia religijnego
Authors: Piróg, Mirosław
Keywords: William James; doświadczenie religijne; mistyka; filozofia
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Katowice : Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Abstract: William James is one of the greatest American philosophers. His role and influence on the 20th century philosophy is difficult to overestimate. However, he is mainly known as the creator of pragmatism and a controversial pragmatic conception of truth. The main thesis of this book is the statement that studies on James’ philosophy have to be conducted with the transfer of emphasis from James as a creator of pragmatism to James as a researcher of a religious experience. It focuses primarily on the last period of his writings, that started publication in 1902 — The Varieties of Religious Experience — still up-to-date work on which the psychology of religion is founded. Earlier works by James are recalled only occasionally to prove the continuity of his thought. The subtitle The Varieties of Religious Experience is: A Study in Human Nature. It points to the central issue of James’ philosophy of religion raised in the book that is — showing the relations between a religious experience and a human nature. James is above all interested in the religious experience of man. He does not deal with institutions and religious doctrines, treating them as secondary forms in relation to experience. His interest in religious experience, not the doctrines of religion, derives directly from his empiricism. Religious experience is for James not only an expression of human contact with the transcendence, is also a way of expression of human nature. Thanks to it, studying a diversity of religious experiences, there is the possibility of closer examination of human nature. According to James, the root of religious experience is the mystical experience. In the mystical experience we deal with a manifestation of the deepest reserves of human nature. This means that the image of the world the mystics give us, is an image that is somehow “filtered” through the deepest layers of human nature and expresses it. The answer given by the mystics, in response to their experiences is at the same time an expression of how they perceive the sacrum and how they perceive the role of man in relation to it. Metaphysical architectonics of reality deriving from mystics’ reports is at the same time the archeology of depths of human nature. The first chapter discusses the basic philosophical problems dealt with in The Varieties of Religious Experience and consequently developed by James in his next works. The most important of these issues is pragmatic verification of the truthfulness of the religious experience and James’ philosophy of mysticism discussed in the context of a contemporary constructivist and universalistic approach. The analysis in this chapter are based on the latest studies on James’ philosophy, conducted especially during the last 25 years by such researchers as G.W. Bernard, Ch. Lamberth, H.S. Levison, E.K. Suckiel, and J. Smith. The next chapters take the issues, outlining the role of a pragmatic conception of truth and metaphysics of a pluralistic panpsychism respectively in the analysis of a religious subject- matter. Late James is thus the thinker who developed the original concept of metaphysics called the radical empiricism. He set itself the goal of developing a holistic metaphysical system which would take into consideration the philosophical study on man, his physical and mental nature on the one hand, and would leave open a possibility of the recognition of the existence of God and religious interpretations of reality on the other. The third chapter shows how the texts collected in the posthumously published volume of Essays in Radical Empiricism and the analyses of pure experience conducted there by James can be used to interpret the mystical experience. A Pluralistic Universe, the last text published during the lifetime of James, outlines a philosophical program, which aim was to conduct such a philosophical interpretation of an empirical reality, within the frame of which it will be possible to experience the world in a homo religiosus way, and, at the same time, in accordance with the modern scientific approach. James understands religion as a necessary fact of the human experience of the world. Analysis of this work is made in chapter four. It portrays James as a religious thinker who takes reflection on fundamental issues of human nature in a metaphysical perspective, inspired by the work of G. Fechner. The basic categories for James’ philosophy of religion: pluralism, intimate universe, compounding of consciousness, and finiteness of God are discussed there — by interpreting it in the perspective of the concept of E. Fontinell. The study presented is not a reconstruction of James’ philosophy of religion. Such a system has never been created and remained always just an outline. Rather the subsequent problems of philosophy of religion, raised by James whether in the psychological or metaphysical perspective are discussed here. The aim was to show inspirations one can derive from the thought of James. The ending paragraphs of the chapter third and fourth, point to certain possibilities for further interpretations and research applications of his philosophy of religion. That is why there is a reference to the conceptions related to Buddhist philosophy. The application of certain elements of James’ metaphysics in the analysis of mystical experience, especially in the circle of the Eastern religions, which James did not know well, most visibly demonstrates the potential of his thought. The intention of the text was to show that James thought, despite the passage of over a hundred years after his death, is still up-to-date and can serve to the currently conducted studies on mystical experience. James’ analyses are though characterized by the depth of philosophical approach combined with an openness to empirical and psychological study of religious experience.
ISBN: 9788322620267
Appears in Collections:Książki/rozdziały (WNS)

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