Rafael Candido Alvarado (rca2t@FARADAY.CLAS.VIRGINIA.EDU)
Thu, 13 Jan 1994 13:07:50 -0500

I have found William James's discussion of revelation as kind of
radical empricism in his book *The Variety of Religious Experience* a
useful means of making sense of religion to students when I teach
sociology of religion. It is surprising how many students enter the
class with the categorical assumption that all forms of experience
except those sanctioned by what used to be called the System and the
Establishment, i.e. Science and Art, are epistemologically suspect.
A good dose of James usually relieves them of this inadequacy.

Another point: we should distinguish between revelation as the
experience of the numinous and the interpretation of that experience in
terms of received categories. Although the relationship between the two
is not simple--and we should certainly guard against viewing the latter
as illusory and the former real--it seems that the former is more or
less universal whereas the latter is highly variable across cultures.

R.C. Alvarado rca2t@Virginia.EDU
Department of Anthropology rca2t@Virginia.BITNET
University of Virginia uunet!virginia!rca2t