Spirituality, Theology and Health Seminar:
Is Life Worth Living? William James, Psychology and the Religious Imagination
Prof Jeremy Carrette
15th May 2013, 4.30-6pm
Seminar Room C, Abbey House, Palace Green, Durham University

This lecture will examine the life and work of William James (1842-1910), author of the 1902 The Varieties of Religious Experience. After exploring James’s personal journey through depression, it will explore in detail his essay “Is Life Worth Living?” and address both religious and non-religious meanings of life. The talk will seek to reveal James’s appreciation of the vital element that keeps us alive and free from depression. As James argues, it is fear of life rather than death that is the problem of existence. The lecture will show how “not-knowing” is as important as knowing and that the poetic imagination is as important as scientific fact in the making of a philosophy of life.

Jeremy Carrette is Professor of Religion and Culture and Head of Religious Studies at the University of Kent, UK. He works on inter-disciplinary aspects of the study of religion and examines the psychology of religion from social and cultural perspectives. He has written works on the French philosopher Michel Foucault, on the American psychologist-philosopher William James, and wider studies on the psychology of religion and spirituality. His most recent book is William James’s Hidden Religious Imagination: A Universe of Relations (Routledge 2013).

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