RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE RECONSIDERED A BUILDING BLOCK APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF RELIGION AND OTHER SPECIAL THINGS

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Religious Experience Reconsidered

Author : Ann Taves
ISBN : 9780691140889
Genre : Religion
File Size : 78.29 MB
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Annotation Ann Taves addresses the subject of religious experience directly and the problems of reductionism and humanistic fears of the sciences indirectly and by example. The orientation of this book is practical more than philosophical.
Category: Religion

Religious Experience Reconsidered

Author : Ann Taves
ISBN : 1400830974
Genre : Religion
File Size : 52.76 MB
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The essence of religion was once widely thought to be a unique form of experience that could not be explained in neurological, psychological, or sociological terms. In recent decades scholars have questioned the privileging of the idea of religious experience in the study of religion, an approach that effectively isolated the study of religion from the social and natural sciences. Religious Experience Reconsidered lays out a framework for research into religious phenomena that reclaims experience as a central concept while bridging the divide between religious studies and the sciences. Ann Taves shifts the focus from "religious experience," conceived as a fixed and stable thing, to an examination of the processes by which people attribute meaning to their experiences. She proposes a new approach that unites the study of religion with fields as diverse as neuroscience, anthropology, sociology, and psychology to better understand how these processes are incorporated into the broader cultural formations we think of as religious or spiritual. Taves addresses a series of key questions: how can we set up studies without obscuring contestations over meaning and value? What is the relationship between experience and consciousness? How can research into consciousness help us access and interpret the experiences of others? Why do people individually or collectively explain their experiences in religious terms? How can we set up studies that allow us to compare experiences across times and cultures? Religious Experience Reconsidered demonstrates how methods from the sciences can be combined with those from the humanities to advance a naturalistic understanding of the experiences that people deem religious.
Category: Religion

Religious Experience Reconsidered

Author : Ann Taves
ISBN : 0691140871
Genre : Religion
File Size : 49.43 MB
Format : PDF
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The essence of religion was once widely thought to be a unique form of experience that could not be explained in neurological, psychological, or sociological terms. In recent decades scholars have questioned the privileging of the idea of religious experience in the study of religion, an approach that effectively isolated the study of religion from the social and natural sciences. Religious Experience Reconsidered lays out a framework for research into religious phenomena that reclaims experience as a central concept while bridging the divide between religious studies and the sciences. Ann Taves shifts the focus from "religious experience," conceived as a fixed and stable thing, to an examination of the processes by which people attribute meaning to their experiences. She proposes a new approach that unites the study of religion with fields as diverse as neuroscience, anthropology, sociology, and psychology to better understand how these processes are incorporated into the broader cultural formations we think of as religious or spiritual. Taves addresses a series of key questions: how can we set up studies without obscuring contestations over meaning and value? What is the relationship between experience and consciousness? How can research into consciousness help us access and interpret the experiences of others? Why do people individually or collectively explain their experiences in religious terms? How can we set up studies that allow us to compare experiences across times and cultures? Religious Experience Reconsidered demonstrates how methods from the sciences can be combined with those from the humanities to advance a naturalistic understanding of the experiences that people deem religious.
Category: Religion

What Matters

Author : Courtney Bender
ISBN : 9780231504683
Genre : Religion
File Size : 43.66 MB
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Over the past decade, religious, secular, and spiritual distinctions have broken down, forcing scholars to rethink secularity and its relationship to society. Since classifying a person, activity, or experience as religious or otherwise is an important act of valuation, one that defines the characteristics of a group and its relation to others, scholars are struggling to recast such concepts in an increasingly ambiguous, pluralistic world. This collection considers religious and secular categories and what they mean to those who seek valuable, ethical lives. As they investigate how individuals and groups determine significance, set goals, and attribute meaning, contributors illustrate the ways in which religious, secular, and spiritual designations serve as markers of value. Reflecting on recent ethnographic and historical research, chapters explore contemporary psychical research and liberal American homeschooling; the work of nineteenth and early-twentieth-century American psychologists and French archaeologists; the role of contemporary humanitarian and volunteer organizations based in Europe and India; and the prevalence of highly mediated and spiritualized publics, from international psy-trance festivals to Ghanaian national political contexts. Contributors particularly focus on the role ambivalence, attachment, and disaffection in the formation of religious, secular, and spiritual identities, resetting research on secular society and contemporary religious life while illuminating what matters in the lives of ordinary individuals.
Category: Religion

Religious Experience

Author : Wayne Proudfoot
ISBN : 0520908503
Genre : Religion
File Size : 70.71 MB
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How is religious experience to be identified, described, analyzed and explained? Is it independent of concepts, beliefs, and practices? How can we account for its authority? Under what conditions might a person identify his or her experience as religious? Wayne Proudfoot shows that concepts, beliefs, and linguistic practices are presupposed by the rules governing this identification of an experience as religious. Some of these characteristics can be understood by attending to the conditions of experience, among which are beliefs about how experience is to be explained.
Category: Religion

Fits Trances Visions

Author : Ann Taves
ISBN : 0691010242
Genre : Religion
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Fits, trances, visions, speaking in tongues, clairvoyance, out-of-body experiences, possession. Believers have long viewed these and similar involuntary experiences as religious--as manifestations of God, the spirits, or the Christ within. Skeptics, on the other hand, have understood them as symptoms of physical disease, mental disorder, group dynamics, or other natural causes. In this sweeping work of religious and psychological history, Ann Taves explores the myriad ways in which believers and detractors interpreted these complex experiences in Anglo-American culture between the mid-eighteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Taves divides the book into three sections. In the first, ranging from 1740 to 1820, she examines the debate over trances, visions, and other involuntary experiences against the politically charged backdrop of Anglo-American evangelicalism, established churches, Enlightenment thought, and a legacy of religious warfare. In the second part, covering 1820 to 1890, she highlights the interplay between popular psychology--particularly the ideas of "animal magnetism" and mesmerism--and movements in popular religion: the disestablishment of churches, the decline of Calvinist orthodoxy, the expansion of Methodism, and the birth of new religious movements. In the third section, Taves traces the emergence of professional psychology between 1890 and 1910 and explores the implications of new ideas about the subconscious mind, hypnosis, hysteria, and dissociation for the understanding of religious experience. Throughout, Taves follows evolving debates about whether fits, trances, and visions are natural (and therefore not religious) or supernatural (and therefore religious). She pays particular attention to a third interpretation, proposed by such "mediators" as William James, according to which these experiences are natural and religious. Taves shows that ordinary people as well as educated elites debated the meaning of these experiences and reveals the importance of interactions between popular and elite culture in accounting for how people experienced religion and explained experience. Combining rich detail with clear and rigorous argument, this is a major contribution to our understanding of Protestant revivalism and the historical interplay between religion and psychology.
Category: Religion

Gods And Demons Priests And Scholars

Author : Bruce Lincoln
ISBN : 9780226035161
Genre : Religion
File Size : 40.56 MB
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Bruce Lincoln is one of the most prominent advocates within religious studies for an uncompromisingly critical approach to the phenomenon of religion—historians of religions, he believes, should resist the preferred narratives and self-understanding of religions themselves, especially when their stories are endowed with sacred origins and authority. In Gods and Demons, Priests and Scholars, Lincoln assembles a collection of essays that both illustrates and reveals the benefits of his methodology, making a case for a critical religious studies that starts with skepticism but is neither cynical nor crude. The book begins with Lincoln’s “Theses on Method” and ends with “The (Un)discipline of Religious Studies,” in which he unsparingly considers the failings of uncritical and nonhistorical approaches to the study of religions. In between, Lincoln presents new examinations of problems in ancient religions and relates these cases to larger comparative themes. While bringing to light important features of the formation of pantheons and the constructions of demons, chaos, and the dead, Lincoln demonstrates that historians of religions should take religious things—inspired scriptures, sacred centers, salvific rites, communities graced by divine favor—as the theories of interested humans that shape perception, community, and experiences. As he shows, it is for their terrestrial influence, and not their sacred origins, that religious phenomena merit consideration by the historian. Tackling many questions central to religious study, Gods and Demons, Priests and Scholars will be a touchstone for the history of religions in the twenty-first century.
Category: Religion

Revelatory Events

Author : Ann Taves
ISBN : 9781400884469
Genre : Religion
File Size : 82.71 MB
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Unseen presences. Apparitions. Hearing voices. Although some people would find such experiences to be distressing and seek clinical help, others perceive them as transformative. Occasionally, these unusual phenomena give rise to new spiritual paths or religious movements. Revelatory Events provides fresh insights into what is perhaps the bedrock of all religious belief—the claim that otherworldly powers are active in human affairs. Ann Taves looks at Mormonism, Alcoholics Anonymous, and A Course in Miracles—three cases in which insiders claimed that a spiritual presence guided the emergence of a new spiritual path. In the 1820s, Joseph Smith, Jr., reportedly translated the Book of Mormon from ancient gold plates unearthed with the help of an angel. Bill Wilson cofounded AA after having an ecstatic experience while hospitalized for alcoholism in 1934. Helen Schucman scribed the words of an inner voice that she attributed to Jesus, which formed the basis of her 1976 best-selling self-study course. In each case, Taves argues, the sense of a guiding presence emerged through a complex, creative interaction between a founding figure with unusual mental abilities and an initial set of collaborators who were drawn into the process by diverse motives of their own. A major work of scholarship, this compelling and accessible book traces the very human processes behind such events.
Category: Religion

Encountering Religion

Author : Tyler T. Roberts
ISBN : 9780231147521
Genre : Philosophy
File Size : 38.8 MB
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Tyler Roberts encourages scholars to abandon the conceptual opposition between "secular" and "religious" to better understand how human beings actively and thoughtfully engage with their worlds and make meaning. The artificial distinction between a self-conscious and critical "academic study of religion" and an ideological and authoritarian "religion," he argues, only obscures the phenomenon. Instead, Roberts calls on intellectuals to approach the field as a site of "encounter" and "response," illuminating the agency, creativity, and critical awareness of religious actors. To respond to religion is to ask what religious behaviors and representations mean to us in our individual worlds, and scholars must confront questions of possibility and becoming that arise from testing their beliefs, imperatives, and practices. Roberts refers to the work of Hent de Vries, Eric Santner, and Stanley Cavell, each of whom exemplifies encounter and response in their writings as they traverse philosophy and religion to expose secular thinking to religious thought and practice. This approach highlights the resources religious discourse can offer to a fundamental reorientation of critical thought. In humanistic criticism after secularism, the lines separating the creative, the pious, and the critical themselves become the subject of question and experimentation.
Category: Philosophy

Religious And Spiritual Experiences

Author : Wesley J. Wildman
ISBN : 9781139495240
Genre : Religion
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What is the value of religious and spiritual experiences within human life? Are we evolutionarily programmed to have such experiences? How will emerging technologies change such experiences in the future? Wesley Wildman addresses these key intellectual questions and more, offering a spiritually evocative naturalist interpretation of the diverse variety of religious and spiritual experiences. He describes these experiences, from the common to the exceptional, and offers innovative classifications for them based on their neurological features and internal qualities. His account avoids reductionistic oversimplifications and instead synthesizes perspectives from many disciplines, including philosophy and natural sciences, into a compelling account of the meaning and value of religious and spiritual experiences in human life. The resulting interpretation does not assume a supernatural worldview but incorporates religious and spiritual experiences into a positive affirmation of this-worldly existence.
Category: Religion