A ‘No’ at the Core of Life

Doing Transreligious Theology with William James

Jonathan Weidenbaum 1
  • 1 Berkeley College, USA


The purpose of this essay is to unpack the relevance of William James for the project of a transreligious theology. While the resources of reason and spiritual experience have long been employed to arbitrate both within and between different spiritual traditions, I argue that James offers a third principle: the encouragement of the morally active life, along with a corresponding depiction of the universe in which our efforts may contribute to the nature of things.

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  • James, William. Essays in Radical Empiricism. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996.

  • James, William. A Pluralistic Universe. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996.

  • James, William. Pragmatism and The Meaning of Truth. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975.

  • James, William. The Varieties of Religious Experience. New York: Mentor Books, 1958.

  • James, William. The Will To Believe and other essays in popular philosophy. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1956.

  • Kazashi, Nobuo. “From James to Nishida: Metamorphoses of the Philosophy of ‘Pure Experience’ in Modern Japanese Thought.” Prepared for the meeting of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (SAAP), 2011.

  • Scholem, Gershom. Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism. New York: Schocken Books, 1946.

  • Truman, Sarah E. Searching for Guan Yin. Buffalo: White Pine Press, 2011.


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Open Theology is an international Open Access, peer-reviewed academic journal that welcomes contributions written in English addressing religion in its various forms and aspects: historical, theological, sociological, psychological, and other.