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Man’s Life, Reaction Paper Example

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Man’s life is composed of concerns about their well being. It is this concern that drives them to seek and pursue actions that are in line with the fulfillment of their ambitions in regards to their concerns. Of these concerns, happiness and satisfaction are one of the topmost concerns where man seeks ways to not only attain it but also to sustain it whenever necessary. As such, his moral behavior is guided by those principles that are in line with his pursuit of happiness while shunning away from actions or thoughts that bring him any sort of unhappiness. Religion plays a role in man’s happiness in that it gives them something to believe in and also hold on to so that they accept those creeds that bring happiness. William James outlines three different categories of souls through which man subscribe to.

One of the souls is that of the religion of healthy-mindedness. These are the people who have powerful religious experiences that influence their day-to-day life. In his text, William James states that such people have a firm grip of the sense of goodness in their life so that in spite of any hardships presented before them, they still present themselves as happy people as they purposely chose not to relive the unhappiness and pain. In addition to this, the healthy minded people deliberately refuse to think ill of their lives since it goes against their religious beliefs. To them, they have been refined by religion so that all those actions that brought them unhappiness and pain cease to bother them altogether. These kinds of people are what William James referred to as religiously optimistic and they seem unbothered by the evil and sinful nature of the world. He further adds that among them, there are those who make a conscious effort to be healthy minded and this they achieve by shutting their eyes to evil. His pursuit of happiness is framed in such a way that the evil in the world in shut out and not believed in. Such is the state of the healthy-minded soul in regard to happiness. In their belief in God, the healthy minded soul subscribes to the fullness that is presented by God so that in times of trials and tribulations, they turn to their belief in the super natural to ease their pain. For examples, when they happen to fall sick, it is the hope of fullness of life in God that helps them through their condition so that instead of disease, they have ease, instead of disharmony, they have harmony. They see the light in tunnels despite others suggesting otherwise.

On the other hand, the sick soul represents how people respond to sin and evil and it is this response that reflects on the soul of man. The healthy-minded response to sin by seeking repentance and atonement so that they rid themselves of unhappiness. There is the acceptance that one is a sinner and in so doing, they put themselves at the mercy of God. The sick soul thus is morbid in nature where evil is viewed as a minor inconvenience to their life brought about by the environment and the response is such that this evil can be cured by making adjustments that ensure such occurrences do not occur. Furthermore, William James adds that the sick soul also views evil as a more radical and general bad habit that cannot be cured by any modifications to the environment and that is only by the supernatural intervention that they are able to cure and rid themselves of the evil.  These individuals have a deep desire to make sense of things, which is then brought about by deep religious experiences. In this pursuit of making sense of things, they are presented with success and happiness, which are related but their religious experiences have that they are faced with questions of failure so that despite them being successful and admired by the majority, they hardly feel that way.

The third category of the soul was the divided self who has inner conflict within them so that they cannot find harmony between moral and intellectual. This makes up the turmoil of the soul, as they do not know which way to pursue or which one to shun. William James adds that within all of us, lays these hostilities that are trying to reconcile actions that are useful from those that are merely impulses. Among the religious, this brings out feelings of melancholy and remorse when presented with actions that make them unhappy. They tend to have inner feelings of wrong and demonstrate remorseful souls so that the divided self takes the shape of what is real and what is ideal.  William James adds that these hostilities have it that for deliverance to occur, man must then die to an unreal life before he can be born into real life. By giving in to religious considerations, such man allows himself to be partisan to the ideal so that this can influence his actions and behaviors in real life. As such, his happiness is derived from not having those inner feelings of remorse since he has managed to reconcile the conflict between the divided self.

In conclusion, the arguments by William James on three different categories of souls are key to understanding man’s behavior in regards to good and evil. He uses religion as an element that influences each of the three categories and how man strives to reconcile his ambitions to the expectations of religious belief. As such, these arguments provide useful insight that man needs to consider in the human condition.

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