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William James and Religious Experiance

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Introduction

Philosophy Essay Q1a) Explain William James's argument from religious experience. (33) A1a) William James an American doctor began to show interest in Philosophy and now he is known as the most famous commentator on religious experiences. He tries to prove the existence of God using religious experiences. William James begins by explaining different forms of religious experiences. He believed that this would allow us to identify different experiences. The first form is an ineffable experience. He believed that this is the most easily recognisable experience as it cannot be described in any words. Also some descriptions are meaningless to the listener who has no experience of such an occurrence. For example it is impossible to explain being in love. The only way one can find out is by having such an experience. Another example is describing the taste of alcohol to a non-alcoholic person. For the non-alcoholic it is impossible to understand unless they have that drink or relate its description to another non-alcoholic drink but even still it wouldn't be 100% accurate. The second form of religious experience is a noetic experience. This is whereby you gain knowledge through intuition and perception. It can be called a revelation. The knowledge gained is more like information than in the conventional manner. For example Muhammad received a revelation- The Quran. ...read more.

Middle

and so he said that the solution to this, was when we become conscious of a being that is higher than us. He then claimed that the pathway to this higher being was religious experiences in the form mysticism and prayer and like he said before that when any communication with that being causes real causes and effects. He then pointed out that there could be no reason, not even scientifically to believe that the involvement of this higher being in people lives was not real. He stated: "that which produces effects within another reality must be termed a reality itself, so I feel as if we had no excuse for calling the unseen or mystical world unreal." In other words, the cause of the experiences which people seem to have, and are undoubtedly affected by is real; if that cause is believed, then God exists. Q1b) "Arguments from religious experience are never convincing." Discuss. (17) A1a) Many philosophers have tried to prove the existence of God through religious experiences. I believe that religious experiences are never convincing as how can anyone communicate with a supreme being. Communication is a human property, we communicate with each other. If someone says that they have communicated with God or God has communicated with them then that is anthropomorphic. ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore religious experiences are an emotion and exist. The problem that I have seen most often used is that God is ineffable so therefore how can we be sure that we see God in a religious experience making a connection. The way I see it is that God is perfect and that is His definition. If something is perfect then there definition is that it is perfect and that's it. For example the definition of a perfect hole puncher is that it punches holes into paper perfectly. I believe that we cannot use religious experiences to prove Gods existence as some experiences are self induced. For example if you're sitting in a church and singing hymns then you are more likely to induce a religious experience than just by sitting at home and watching TV. Personally I believe that God exists but His existence cannot be verified through religious experiences. The only people who believe in God through religious experiences are the people who believe in God before hand or the people who have encountered the experience. Also going back to my first statement that we cannot attribute a human quality to God. To believe in God, there doesn't have to be science or any empirical testing it should just be faith but logically God's existence can be proven, for example the teleological argument. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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