12 August 2007
His name survives today because William James quoted him in his "Varieties of Religious Experience." I'll reproduce part of one of those quotes, regarding Bradley's conversion experience, not because I recommend Bradley's sort of faith, but simply as a token of a type.
"At first, I began to feel my heart beat very quick all on a sudden, which made me at first think that perhaps something is going to ail me, though I was not alarmed, for I felt no pain. My heart increased in its beating, which soon convinced me that it was the Holy Spirit from the effect it had on me. I began to feel exceedingly happy and humble, and such a sense of unworthiness as I never felt before. I could not very well help speaking out, which I did, and said Lord, I do not deserve this happiness, or words to that effect, while there was a stream (resembling air in feeling) came into my mouth and heart in a more sensible manner than that of drinking anything, which continued, as near as I could judge, five minutes or more, which appeared to be the cause of such a palpitation of my heart."
There's a lot that fascinates me about this quote, for example the scrupulous fashion in which Bradley, having quoted what he remembers himself as saying in prayer at the time, adds, "or words to that effect," to account for the imperfection of human memory.
James notes that the effect of this conversion experience upon Bradley in later life is something "of which we gain no information." Bradley dates the experience to Novemver 1829, when he was 24 years old, and the memoir was published in 1830.
If by their fruits we shall judge them, as pragmatists always hold, then it would be of interest to learn of Bradley's later life.
Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.