Scholars have recently identified resemblances between pragmatist thought and contemporary trends in cognitive science in the area of ‘embodied cognition’ or ‘4E cognition.’ In this article I explore these resemblances in the account of religious belief provided by the classical pragmatist philosopher William James. Although James’s psychology does not always parallel the commitments of embodied cognition, his insights concerning the role of emotion and socio-cultural context in shaping religious belief, as well as the action-oriented nature of such beliefs, resonate with embodied and embedded accounts of religious belief. James’s insights are readily extended in light of contemporary embodied cognition research to highlight the interdependency between religious belief of individuals and the cognitive scaffolding provided by embodied religious practices.
Religious Experience Revisited explores a dilemma which has haunted the study of religion since William James. Is religion rooted in experiences? Is religion rooted in expressions? How are experiences and expressions related? The contributors to this international and interdisciplinary compilation explore the possibilities and the impossibilities of a hermeneutics of religion. Combining theology and philosophy with biblical, cultural, historical and literary studies, they examine how religious experiences and religious expressions have been entangled in the past and in the present. These entanglements call for interdisciplinary conversations in which those who study experiences and those who study expressions can learn from each other in order to carve out important and instructive spaces for the study of religion.