Sorry, this episode is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio

William James

The Essay, The Mystical Turn Episode 2 of 5

Continuing our series, The Mystical Turn, Dr Jane Shaw, Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, evaluates the enduring influence of American psychologist and philosopher William James's book on personal spirituality, The Varieties of Religious Experience.

Harvard professor William James, elder brother of the novelist Henry James, believed that humans have a religious propensity, a natural leaning towards religion. In his Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature - first given as the 1902 Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh - James documented numerous events which he believed illustrated his thesis. James's goal was to show the universality of religious experience, and its validity. In doing so, he unearthed the deep current of spiritual seeking that ran through America and Britain at the time and produced a book which still resonates with readers today.

Producer: Ian Willox
Executive Producer: Alan Hall

A Chrome Radio production for BBC Radio 3.

Release date:

15 minutes

Last on

Tue 17 May 2011 22:45

The Book that Changed Me

The Book that Changed Me

Five figures from the arts and science introduce books that changed their lives and work.

Download The Essay

The Essay podcast

Download all the episodes from the series and listen at your leisure.

Listen Online First

The Essay Online First

Hear all five episodes of the latest episodes of the Essay before they're broadcast