William James and Mysticism

In the textbook, Studying Religion Chapter 7 on Religious Experience, it discusses various aspects of religious experience. In the reading by William James he focuses on one type of experience which is termed “Mystical Experience” or “Mysticism”.

Read Chapter 7, the article by William James, and the writings by St. Teresa and Dave Davies. In your written assignment address the following questions: a) How does James define “mystical experience?” Under his definition would all religious experiences be mystical experiences, or only some religious experiences? Why or why not? b) James concludes “non-mystics are under no obligation to acknowledge in mystical states a superior authority conferred on them by their intrinsic nature.” What reasons does he offer for saying that non-mystics do not have to give authority to the revelations that mystics claim to receive in their mystical states? c) Do you agree or disagree with James, that non-mystics do not have to follow or listen to the advice from mystics? Why or why not? In your analysis use examples from St. Teresa, Dave Davies and the Sak Yant possession to illustrate your points.


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