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The Varieties of Transcendence$
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Hermann Deuser, Hans Joas, Matthias Jung, and Magnus Schlette

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780823267576

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823267576.001.0001

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Religious Experience and Its Interpretation

Religious Experience and Its Interpretation

Reflections on James and Royce

Chapter:
(p.219) Religious Experience and Its Interpretation
Source:
The Varieties of Transcendence
Author(s):

Hans Joas

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823267576.003.0012

This chapter explores the double foundation of a pragmatist theory of religion in William James's empirical psychology and Charles Sanders Peirce's semiotics. It argues that James's theory of religion cannot account for processes articulating religious experience because it lacks an appropriate concept of symbolic mediation between individual mental states and their intentional content. It thus connects James's theory of religion with Peircean semiotics and highlights the importance of the late works of Josiah Royce, including The Sources of Religious Insight and The Problem of Christianity, in this regard. The chapter considers Royce's concept of the invisible church in particular and goes on to compare James's strengths with Royce's philosophy of religion. It concludes by calling for a synthesis of American pragmatism and German historicism to proceed in a direction of a pragmatist theory of religion, which integrates “the semiotic theory of self and community with a nonteleological understanding of history.”

Keywords:   theory of religion, William James, empirical psychology, Charles Sanders Peirce, semiotics, religious experience, Josiah Royce, philosophy of religion, pragmatism, historicism

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