William James On Radical Empiricism and Religion

By Hunter Brown

© 2000

A century after the appearance of his famous works on religion, William James's philosophy of religion is still the subject of lively debate. James's numerous opponents have repeatedly charged him with abdication of intellectual responsibility, arguing that he advocated the adoption of religious belief without conclusive evidence on its behalf. In this book Hunter Brown shows that critics have consistently distorted James's view in the process of arriving at such charges.

The central argument presented here is that critics have failed to look at James's philosophical vision as a whole. This failure is addressed by Brown as he locates James's thought on religion within the wider scope of Radical Empiricism's analyses of experience in general, and subject-object relations in particular. Brown presents the main interpretations and critiques of James's work, and shows that James's views of religious experience, evil and power, human responsibility, and ethical concerns do not in fact lapse into subjectivism and fideism.

This penetrating study not only builds upon a long tradition of James scholarship but pushes through to new levels of inquiry and insight. It is a major work that will generate renewed discussion of James's thought along with the approaches and concerns emerging from it.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Studies in Philosophy
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP001197

  • PUBLISHED DEC 2000

    From: $20.96

    Regular Price: $27.95

    ISBN 9781442614901
  • PUBLISHED MAY 2000

    From: $49.50

    Regular Price: $66.00

Quick Overview

Hunter Brown shows that Henry James's views of religious experience do not in fact lapse into subjectivism or fideism that critics have accused him of but occasions hardships and self-sacrifice which James describes.

William James On Radical Empiricism and Religion

By Hunter Brown

© 2000

A century after the appearance of his famous works on religion, William James's philosophy of religion is still the subject of lively debate. James's numerous opponents have repeatedly charged him with abdication of intellectual responsibility, arguing that he advocated the adoption of religious belief without conclusive evidence on its behalf. In this book Hunter Brown shows that critics have consistently distorted James's view in the process of arriving at such charges.

The central argument presented here is that critics have failed to look at James's philosophical vision as a whole. This failure is addressed by Brown as he locates James's thought on religion within the wider scope of Radical Empiricism's analyses of experience in general, and subject-object relations in particular. Brown presents the main interpretations and critiques of James's work, and shows that James's views of religious experience, evil and power, human responsibility, and ethical concerns do not in fact lapse into subjectivism and fideism.

This penetrating study not only builds upon a long tradition of James scholarship but pushes through to new levels of inquiry and insight. It is a major work that will generate renewed discussion of James's thought along with the approaches and concerns emerging from it.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Studies in Philosophy
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    'It is one of those works that goes to the heart of the debate concerning a major thinker, and transforms our appreciation of what that thinker has actually accomplished.'


    James Dicenso, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto
  • Author Information

    Hunter Brown is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, King's College, University of Western Ontario.

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