The Varieties of Religious Experience

William James is pretty clear that people have a right to choose that style of religion that suits their needs. As he says, “Does it not appear as if one who lived habitually on one side of the pain-threshold might need a different sort of religion from one who habitually lived on the other?” (126) Some people, in other words, can’t help but see the sunny side of things and others can’t help but focus on the shady sides. One style of religion won’t suit both, and that’s OK.

However, he does seem to argue that the religion of the sick soul is a deeper and more “complete” way of being religious (148-150, the conclusion of Lecture VII).

In an essay of at least three pages, explain why James feels that the religion of the sick soul is more complete, deeper, etc. than the religion of the healthy minded, even though you do need to choose what works for you, not what you ‘should’ choose.

a. What arguments does he give for his position that the religion of the “sick soul” is in some way wiser or more complete than that of the healthy soul?
b. Do you agree? Why or why not?