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Damned for God’s Glory: William James and the Scientific Vindication of Protestant Culture

Damned for God’s Glory: William James and the Scientific Vindication of Protestant Culture

Chapter:
(p.117) Chapter 6 Damned for God’s Glory: William James and the Scientific Vindication of Protestant Culture
Source:
After Cloven Tongues of Fire
Author(s):
David A. Hollinger
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691158426.003.0006

This chapter interprets William James' entire career in the light of his affinity with the liberal Protestant elite of his time and place on the one hand, and his devotion to the calling of modern science on the other. It takes seriously his many references in Pragmatism to religious searching and indeed to “salvation,” so often left out of account by secular students of his thought. It reads Varieties of Religious Experience as the pivotal point in James' turn from a “separate spheres” defense of religion to an effort to mobilize a community of inquiry willing to test religious claims by experience. Against scholars who prefer to read James' corpus as a synchronic whole, the chapter shows that the meaning of his various works is best grasped when his career is approached diachronically, with each text analyzed according to the stage it marks in the development over time of his preoccupation with religion's relation to science.

Keywords:   William James, Protestants, modern science, Protestantism, Pragmatism, religion

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