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Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience Paperback – September 29, 1993


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Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience + Warranted Christian Belief + Faith And Rationality: Reason and Belief in God
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (September 29, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801481554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801481550
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #438,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The elegant and comprehensive argument in this book is the definitive version of a position Alston has been developing over the past decade. It is arguably the most important investigation of the epistemology of mysticism from a sophisticated analytical-pragmatic perspective since James's Varieties."—Theological Studies



"This splendid book is the fruit of decades of mature and penetrating reflection. As you would expect, it takes discussion of the topics surrounding experience of God to a new level of insight and penetration"—Alvin Plantinga, University of Notre Dame



"A first-rate and truly important piece of work, Perceiving God is both a signal contribution to the philosophy of religion and a powerful treatise in epistemology. The book is philosophically rigorous and admirably lucid. It is in my judgment the leading contemporary work on the epistemic status of religious experience."—Robert Audi, University of Notre Dame


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63 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Andreas Saugstad on June 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
William Alston is professor emeritus in philosophy at Syracuse University in USA. In this book he combines his knowledge of general epistemology with his interest in philosophy of religion. Alston focuses on experience as a provoding a strong basis for theist belief. He tries to show that in so far general perceptive practices are reliable, and Christian mystical practices may be shown to be very similar to general or "ordinary" perception, there is no reason to be a skeptic towards religious experiences. Like general doxastic practices, mystical perceptual practices may be shown to be socially established.
Alston projects his moderate foundationalism into philosophy of religion, in his model experience may be intimately conncted to experience of God, although it is never thought to be infallible. According to Alston theist belief is based on two pillars, natural theology and religious experience, where experience is the most important part.
The book may be read as a modern analytic philosopher's attempt to identify with the Christian mystical tradition, with its empahsis on direct awareness of God.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By not me VINE VOICE on December 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
No one should pick up "Perceiving God" expecting a devotional manual or a rich description of mystical experience. Instead, the book is a subtle and fairly technical treatise on religious epistemology, undertaken to assess the epistemic status of claims by Christian mystics to have perceived God directly. The bottom line is that Christian mystical practice is a socially established doxastic system and, as such, should be treated as prima facie veridical unless it produces results that are internally inconsistent or clash with the results of other doxastic systems.

Philosophers will enjoy "Perceiving God" even if they don't buy the conclusion. However, ordinary believers will be left cold, if they finish the book at all. I took off one star because I was unpersuaded by the author's finessing of the question of how Christian mystical practice can be veridical even though it clashes with the mystical practices of other religions. Overall, non-philosophers interested in mysticism should start with William James' "The Varieties of Religious Experience" before they tackle "Perceiving God."
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By PCH on April 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alston is brilliant in his assessment of the reliability of sense perception, and his comparisons of divine perception to other sorts of uncommon(ish) perceptual experience is fantastic.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a difficult read for anyone that is not trained to read philosophical literature. It is a challenge to get through, certainly. I would not recommend this textbook to the lay-reader who is interested in philosophy.
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6 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A subtle work for advanced students. It seems destined to become a classic in the field, in my humble (non-expert) judgement.
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