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Varieties of Religion Today

Varieties of Religion Today

William James Revisited

Charles Taylor

ISBN 9780674012530

Publication date: 11/30/2003

A hundred years after William James delivered the celebrated lectures that became The Varieties of Religious Experience, one of the foremost thinkers in the English-speaking world returns to the questions posed in James's masterpiece to clarify the circumstances and conditions of religion in our day. An elegant mix of the philosophy and sociology of religion, Charles Taylor's powerful book maintains a clear perspective on James's work in its historical and cultural contexts, while casting a new and revealing light upon the present.

Lucid, readable, and dense with ideas that promise to transform current debates about religion and secularism, Varieties of Religion Today is much more than a revisiting of James's classic. Rather, it places James's analysis of religious experience and the dilemmas of doubt and belief in an unfamiliar but illuminating context, namely the social horizon in which questions of religion come to be presented to individuals in the first place.

Taylor begins with questions about the way in which James conceives his subject, and shows how these questions arise out of different ways of understanding religion that confronted one another in James's time and continue to do so today. Evaluating James's treatment of the ethics of belief, he goes on to develop an innovative and provocative reading of the public and cultural conditions in which questions of belief or unbelief are perceived to be individual questions. What emerges is a remarkable and penetrating view of the relation between religion and social order and, ultimately, of what "religion" means.

Praise

  • In the early 20th century, Harvard sociologist William James delivered a series of lectures in Edinburgh that were eventually put together in book form as The Varieties of Religious Experience, still in print today. A century later...Charles Taylor spoke for the same lecture series, revisiting James's work for a postmodern audience. His Varieties of Religion Today is a provocative, witty, and worthy conversation with James's timeless work.

    —Publishers Weekly

Author

  • Charles Taylor is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy at McGill University. Author of The Language Animal, Sources of the Self, The Ethics of Authenticity, and A Secular Age, he has received many honors, including the Templeton Prize, the Berggruen Prize, and membership in the Order of Canada.

Book Details

  • 142 pages
  • 5 x 7-1/2 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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