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James, William - The Varieties of Religious Experience - Emotion and decision making



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

The Varieties of Religious Experience – William James

Sometimes no emotional state is sovereign, but many contrary ones are mixed.  In that case one hears both ‘yeses’ and ‘noes’ and the will is called on then to solve the conflict.  Take a soldier, for example, with his dread of cowardice impelling him to advance, his fears impelling him to run, and his propensities to imitation pushing him towards various courses, if his comrades offer various examples.

His person becomes the seat of a mass of interferences; and he may for a time simply waver, because no one emotion prevails.  There is a pitch of intensity, though, which if any emotion reach it, enthrones that one as alone effective and sweeps its antagonists and all other inhibitions away.  The fury of his comrades’ charge, once entered on, will give this pitch of courage to the soldier; the panic of their rout will give this pitch of fear

The source of the experience

James, William

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Squash the big I am


Decision making