Rationalism sticks to logic and the empy- rean [lofty, abstract]. Empiricism sticks to the external senses. Pragmatism is willing to take anything, to follow either logic or the senses and to count the humblest and most personal experiences. She will count mystical experiences if they have practical consequences. She will take a God who lives in the very dirt of private fact—if that should seem a likely place to find him.
Her only test of probable truth is what works best in the way of leading us, what fits every part of life best and combines with the collectivity of experience’s demands, nothing being omitted. If theo- logical ideas should do this, if the notion of God, in particular, should prove to do it, how could pragmatism possibly deny God’s existence? She could see no mean- ing in treating as “not true” a notion that was pragmatically so successful. (James, 1907/1981)
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Following his belief that any idea has potential pragmatic value, James enthusiastically embraced parapsychology and in 1884 was a founder of the American Society for Psychical Research. For an interesting survey of James’s thoughts on parapsy- chology, religion, and faith healing, see Murphy and Ballou (1960/1973).