Tuesday, January 17, 2012

James & Dewey on "natural piety"

We're doing the Doubt Quiz today. It might be instructive and amusing to take a look at William James's stab at a similar exercise back in 1904.
Do you believe in personal immortality? "Never keenly; but more strongly as I grow older."
Do you pray? "I cannot possibly pray—I feel foolish and artificial."
What do you mean by 'spirituality'? "Susceptibility to ideals, but with a certain freedom to indulge in imagination about them. A certain amount of 'other worldly' fancy. Otherwise you have mere morality, or 'taste.'"
What do you mean by a 'religious experience'? "Any moment of life that brings the reality of spiritual things more 'home' to one."



James in this quiz exhibits an experientially-inclusive sensibility I've called "global naturalism." It makes room for lots of indulgent personal "fancy" about what some would consider supernaturalism. It's this that distinguishes his form of natural piety from John Dewey's in A Common Faith.


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