American Philosophy and Culture Essays

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Megan Palmeri
Dr. Ventimiglia
American Philosophy and Culture
January 26th, 2012

“…and in general our whole higher prudential and moral life is based on the fact that material sensations actually present may have a weaker influence on our action than ideas of remoter facts. (Lecture III, 55)”

In Lecture III, The Reality of the Unseen, William James explains how a large part of our life is based on what and how we feel internally. It is not necessarily material objects that drive us to believe in certain things or take certain actions. James suggests the idea that our isolated thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes are what drive us to act and feel the way we do. James explains how the “unseen” sensations can be stronger to a person than things that can actually be seen and touched. It is the feeling of something that has the ability to cause us to react rather than solely getting reaction from something in a physical sense. This makes sense because, generally, followers of religion have not come in physical contact with their Creator, Savior, of God. Therefore, their faith is based on their internal beliefs and ideas that they have formed for themselves on top of what their religion has already taught them. Throughout Lecture III, James explains how the “objects” of our conscience, understandably, play a strong role in what we define as “real.” He believes that when it comes to the idea of religion, it is these “objects” that impel the lives of believers so intensely. I…