Aims and Method

  • T. R. Miles
Part of the New Studies in the Philosophy of Religion book series (NSPR)


In this study I shall examine some of the possible uses for the expression ‘religious experience’, and I shall try to indicate both how this expression is helpful and how it is misleading. On the positive side I shall argue that there is every justification for listening seriously to people’s accounts of what they have experienced in trying to come to terms with religious issues, and that for the person concerned such experiences can legitimately influence religious commitment; on the negative side I shall argue that it is a mistake to postulate special entities called ‘religious experiences’ if these are thought of as ‘non-material’ in character or as providing recondite information about a ‘nonmaterial world’. The ‘material’—‘non-material’ dichotomy, in the form in which it is commonly presented, seems to me not merely useless but positively misleading, and I shall try to show that accounts of religious experience are better off without it.


Religious Experience Ordinary Language Religious Commitment Religious Life Mystical Experience 
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Notes and References

  1. 3.
    I. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. N. Kemp Smith (Macmillan, London, 1929) a 750, b 778, p. 600.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    V. Gollancz, From Darkness to Light: A Confession of Faith in the Form of an Anthology (Gollancz, London, 1956).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    M. Laski, Ecstasy (Crescent Press, London, 1961).Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    W. James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (Longmans, Green, London 1902).Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    J. L. Austin, Sense and Sensibilia (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1962) p. 3.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    G. Ryle, The Concept of Mind (Hutchinson, London, 1949) .Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, trans. G. E. M. Anscombe (Blackwell, Oxford, 1953) § 303.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© T. R. Miles 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. R. Miles
    • 1
  1. 1.Professor of PsychologyUniversity College of North WalesBangorUK

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