Benjamin Y. Fong (Assistant Collegiate Prof., Social Sciences, UChicago) on Starbuck’s and James’ psychology of religion

Benjamin Y. Fong

Harper Fellow and Assistant Collegiate Professor of Social Sciences (University of Chicago)

“Freak Stuff or Protestant Stock-in-Trade?: Edwin Diller Starbuck’s The Psychology of Religion in Light of its Influence on William James

Tuesday, February 3, 4:30pm (Location TBA)


“In this paper, my aim is to articulate the nature of William James’ debt to and divergence from the ideas of his student Edwin Diller Starbuck through an analysis of the latter’s The Psychology of Religion conducted in light of the “Conversion” lectures in the Varieties of Religious Experience.  As I will demonstrate, The Psychology of Religion was not simply “source material” for James, who actively edited Starbuck’s work as he presented it.  My hope is contribute to a fuller understanding of James’ Varieties while introducing the work of a mostly forgotten figure in the history of the study of religion, but it is perhaps more importantly to show that the psychology of religion in America, at its inception, was not defined by a single trajectory.”

Anil Mundra (Divinity PhD Student in Philosophy of Religions) on Classical Indian Philosophy of Religions

Anil Mundra (Divinity PhD Student in Philosophy of Religions)

“Argument, Agreement, and Authority in Classical Indian Philosophy of Religions”

Tuesday, Jan 20, 4:30 PM, Swift 201


“Situations of religious diversity seem to raise special epistemological demands. How does one establish epistemic authority in the face of fundamental disagreement? In India, where religious diversity has been a fact of life for all of recorded history, interreligious debate and disagreement was formative of a number of interesting philosophical solutions to such problems. The Jains, best known for their ethics of non-violence, took the problem of disagreement so seriously as to ask: How can one be free of contradiction in the face of religious rivals, even as those rivals contradict each other? I will examine how a Jain locus classicus attempts to solve this problem through a dialectically synthetic epistemology that stands out in the Indian panorama, and remains provocative as well as potentially appealing to contemporary sensibilities.”