Exploring Religious Meaning Fall 2018 Essay Help-Explain your interpretation of William James approach to studying religion
LECTURE #2 WEEKLY WRITEUP
The write-up is not just about you, and it is not just about the readings. It is about your engagement with
the readings. Please do not quote, unless necessary, and please keep summaries to a minimum.
1. Please explain your interpretation of William James approach to studying religion? What are the
strong/weak points? What did you think of his view of the divided self, and the subliminal + divided self
as an explanation for spiritual genius?
2. Please interpret, critique, and expand upon the following passage from Kripal’s Comparing Religions:
“The critical study of religion is the most relevant, the most exciting and dangerous, and the most radical
intellectual study presently pursued in the colleges and universities of the modern world. The so-called
“hard” sciences in fact do the easy stuff: they study things that can be measured, that can be controlled, that
can be predicted. We study things that cannot be measured, that cannot be controlled, that are fiercely alive,
and that are ultimately about the “hardest” of all humanistic and scientific problems: the nature of
Note: When answering these questions start practicing using the both-and approach Kripal highlights,
meaning practice applying more intelligent, nuanced answers. Avoid one-sided dogmatism simply because
it is almost assuredly incorrect, and it is also boring.
For Lecture #2, please expect to be asked to demonstrate knowledge of evolutionary monotheism, counterreligion,
3 features of polytheism, pantheism, Axial Age, nonlocal self, theory as insight and/or as travel,
difference between theology and religious studies, comparative mysticism.
Please do not over-complicate this assignment. The more you engage with the text, the more you will get
from it. That is the point.
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