Archetypal Polytheism 

William James

October 28, 2015 / by Todd

The further limits of our being plunge, it seems to me, into an altogether other dimension of existence from the sensible and merely “understandable” world.  Name it the mystical region, or the supernatural region, whichever you choose.  So far as our ideal impulses originate in this region (and most of them do originate in it, for we find them possessing us in a way for which we cannot articulately account), we belong to it in a more intimate sense than that in which we belong to the visible world…yet the unseen region is question is not merely ideal, for it produces effects in this world.

William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

Let me then propose…that whatever it may be on its farther side, the “more” with which in religious experience we feel ourselves connected is on its hither side the continuation of our conscious life…At the same time the theologian’s contention that the religious man is moved by an external power is vindicated, for it is one of the peculiarities of invasions from the subconscious region to take on objective appearances, and to suggest to the Subject an external control.  In the religious life the control is felt as “higher”; but since on our hypothesis it is primarily the higher facilities of our own hidden mind which are controlling, the sense of union with the power beyond us is a sense of something, not merely apparently, but literally true.

William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience


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