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Vexen Crabtree 2015


Vexen Crabtree's Live Journal

Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards

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Vexen Crabtree 2015

The Varieties of Religious Experience

A brief review of this book, and a series of (unrepresentative) quotes, can be found here:

"The Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James

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Mystical experiences can support any religion, it depends on culture and phenotype of the person. It can cause, or support, any form of religion including asceticism, gnosticism, theism and can also cause insanity, genius or works of art.

And how do we know that 'mystical' experiences aren't just some manifestation of the mind, having no real religious core? I suppose there's no way to prove it, is there? It's been said for a long time that genius and insanity are closely related!

Sounds like a fascinating book. :)

The author (in 1900!) didn't quite have the detailed scientific knowledge of the brain that we have now. Other authors including Moojan Momen actually document the very real possibility that basic physiological factors are the cause of mystical experiences.

Certainly, Night Terrors are single handedly one of the biggest causes, and we now know that they, at least, are purely biochemical. (But for those who don't know their cause, it's enough to propel people who experience them in to religion, insanity, or both!)

I don't doubt one bit that physiology has a lot to do with 'mystical' experiences. The mind/body connection is a powerful phenomenon! But yeah, if people don't know the basic correlation between biochemical reactions and their impact on the brain (or vice versa!), they might very well ascribe them to something less mundane.

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