Customer Review

384 of 395 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant; Actually, Beyond Brilliant, January 31, 2000
This review is from: The Varieties of Religious Experience (Paperback)
I am always surprised when I am cruising around Amazon and take a look at a classic and find just 1 or 2 customer comments on a book such as James's masterful "Varieties". So, I just had to say something. This is one of the greatest and most readable books ever written on the subject of religion. Don't be surprised at what you find. WJ is not making a "case" for belief here, or any case for any particular religious "system". He is studying religious experience, trying to get to the bottom of what brings it about and what it means for human beings. Thus, he pays little attention to what we call "organized religion." He spends his time, rather, with the various ways that people have experienced God or the supernatural or the spiritual. James's style is very subtle, ornate, and powerful. Just let yourself soak in it for awhile and then try to learn. His metaphors are so stunning as to be memorable for the rest of your life. His discussion of the healthy-minded, the sick soul, and the mystic will entrall you and thrill you with his erudition, and they will become touchstones in your own religious experience and your own study of religion for the rest of your life. Religion is a living reality for WJ. He gives a powerful analysis of what it can, should, and does mean to men and women in the modern world. If you wish to understand modern thought on religion, by the way, you must read James, for much of it springs from his thought. Lastly, James is the kindest thinker who ever put pen to paper. For those of in the William james Society, this is why we love him so. He never chides or derides or condemns. He gently disagrees, looks for the best from every idea and every experience and every person, and lavishes praise on what he finds excellent and meaningful. His thought and writing and philosophical depth and style are an inspiration. Spend some time with one of the greatest thinkers ever. You won't regret it.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 28, 2006 10:12:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 28, 2006 10:15:56 AM PDT
Leebo says:
THIS is a well-written, meaningful review of a book! I wish more reviews were put together with this kind of respect and real feeling. I've been trying to put together an order tonight and I've read many reviews. This was the capper. Now I can top off the order, and go to bed! Thanks for your help, Mr. Kilpela.

Posted on Apr 29, 2007 6:33:08 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 13, 2007 6:00:29 AM PST
Orva Schrock says:
one of the best and most right on "amazon" reviews i've ever read. and yes, the book is even greater than the review. when a book can remain as fresh and concise and comprehensive and educational as "Varieties" is, it is indeed the very epitome of a great classic in its field.

Posted on Dec 5, 2008 9:29:38 AM PST
Sweet review and helpful. Well done.

Posted on Mar 19, 2010 5:50:27 PM PDT
clarity says:
This is a very impressive review (and I was about to write that before I saw that several others thought the same).
On top of all the other raving judgements I've come across this evening regarding James' book, it just made me decide to order and tackle this large volume next.

Posted on Oct 2, 2011 8:53:24 AM PDT
Not the boss says:
My experince was the same as the reviewer's - just browsing Amazon and stumbled upon a commwnt on a review of a different book and wound up here reading about a book by an author I didn't know who wrote about a subject which has never interested me (religion), and yet now I want to try it. Amazon rocks.

Posted on Oct 10, 2011 9:00:17 AM PDT
I was looking for detail before confirming the order. Sidn't take long.

Posted on Feb 18, 2012 7:07:53 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 18, 2012 7:10:19 AM PST
It's a shame that Amazon doesn't actually separate the reviews of various editions clearly. This review appears on the page for some very bad editions of the book. Make sure you get a legitimate edition, like this one: The Varieties of Religious Experience (Economy Editions)

Posted on Feb 21, 2013 4:19:19 PM PST
I've never before posted a feedback comment but this review changed that. I find it amazing that I'm even able to comment on a review that was posted over 13 years ago. William James and specifically this book was mentioned in an online interview I was listening to on Coast to Coast Radio. I was even surprised that it was available at Amazon. Anyway, I've read many, many reviews and I hardly ever purchase a product without reading them. This review stands as the absolute best one I've ever encountered. If Ben Kilpela is not a writer in some capacity he certainly should be. Failing that, I'm hoping he's the greatest teacher to some very blessed students. Godspeed Mr. Kilpela and thanks for "brilliant" review.

Posted on Apr 18, 2013 5:01:03 PM PDT
I read this book 35-40 years ago. I remember very little of it, but, I do recall saying to my professor that it seemed to me he was writing as a lawyer rather than a scientist or philosopher. He was trying to persuade. It made no difference if the argument were "true" (whatever that may mean). But, for an anthropologist, philosopher or psychologist, it should make a lot of difference. That doesn't mean I disagree with everything he wrote or do not admire many aspects of his personality and approach. And again, I am remembering an impression -- and a college student's impression at that. But, I do think you have persuaded me to look at it again. Still have my copy somewhere.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2013 8:13:57 PM PDT
Dana Stone says:
Agreed. This is the best review I've ever read on Amazon.
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