Samarina Tat'iana

Friedrich Heiler and the Psychology of Religion

Samarina Tat'iana (2014) "Friedrich Heiler and the Psychology of Religion ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia, 2014, vol. 54, pp. 83-96 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI201454.83-96


The author examines the work of the celebrated German religious researcher Friedrich Heiler in relation to the problematic surrounding the psychology of religion. Heiler himself subtitled his first classic work, Prayer , with the words a study of religious-history and of religious-psychology . This presumably meant that he considered himself a student of the psychology of religion. The author contrasts Heiler’s ideas on this subject with those put forward by his contemporaries, all of whom studied the psychology of religion: William James, Evelyn Underhill, and Sigmund Freud. The author’s analysis reveals that Heiler was very familiar with the studies produced by several early students of the psychology of religion: Leub, Starbuck, and Sabbate. He often employs them to glean examples for his own research but does not take any of them seriously. James’ division of religious believers into the twice-born and the once-born has similarities with Heiler’s own types of mystic and prophetic religiosity. There are also many similarities between the theory of mystical ascension proposed by Evelyn Underhill and the examples of religious mysticism proposed by Heiler. While analyzing the phenomenon of matrimonial mysticism, Heiler often refers to elements of Freud’s psychoanalysis, thinking it adequate to explain certain erotic elements inherent in religious reflection, but at the same time, unable to explain the religious phenomenon on the whole.


Friedrich Heiler, William James, Evelyn Underhill, Sigmund Freud, the phenomenology of religion, the psychology of religion, religious experience


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Samarina Tat'iana