As part of the William James festivities around here, I’m giving away a copy of what is probably my favorite book, The Varieties of Religious Experience. Based on a series of lectures that James delivered at the University of Edinburgh in 1901 and 1902, Varieties combines fascinating firsthand accounts of people’s experiences with James’ brilliant and timeless insights about the psychology, needs, frailty, and resilience of human beings. James was famously kind to (and drawn to) religion and the supernatural for someone as scientifically inclined as he was, but he still felt the need to acknowledge that some of the most devout might find his techniques off-putting:
It is true that we instinctively recoil from seeing an object to which our emotions and affections are committed handled by the intellect as any other object is handled. The first thing the intellect does with an object is to class it along with something else. But any object that is infinitely important to us and awakens our devotion feels to us also as if it must be sui generis and unique. Probably a crab would be filled with a sense of personal outrage if it could hear us class it without ado or apology as a crustacean, and thus dispose of it. “I am no such thing,” it would say; “I am MYSELF, MYSELF alone.”
To enter to win a copy of the book, please send an e-mail to john[at]thesecondpass[dot]com with “varieties” in the subject line. If you’d like to include a note in the body of the e-mail saying hello, or telling me the best movie you’ve attended or rented recently, feel free—I mostly hear from spambots, which can be depressing. Some important notes: 1) The edition of the book you win will not be the edition shown above. But I promise you it will not be this edition. It will be this one. 2) Your e-mail addresses will not be used for nefarious purposes involving marketing or anything else. The Second Pass is essentially a one-man shop, and the one man (me) promises privacy. 3) Winner will be drawn by a random number generator. At that time, I will contact said winner for a mailing address. So, no need to send a mailing address for now. 4) Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m., Eastern time, on Monday, August 30.
There will be at least one more James-related giveaway as the week progresses.