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William James (1) [1842–1910]

This page covers the author of The Varieties of Religious Experience.

For other authors named William James, see the disambiguation page.

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William James, oldest of five children (including Henry James and Alice James) in the extraordinary James family, was born in New York City on January 11, 1842. He has had a far-reaching influence on writers and thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Broadly educated by private tutors and through European travel, James initially studied painting. During the Civil War, however, he turned to medicine and physiology, attended Harvard medical school, and became interested in the workings of the mind. His text, The Principles of Psychology (1890), presents psychology as a science rather than a philosophy and emphasizes the connection between the mind and the body. James believed in free will and the power of the mind to affect events and determine the future. In The Will to Believe (1897) and The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), he explores metaphysical concepts and mystical experiences. He saw truth not as absolute but as relative, depending on the given situation and the forces at work in it. He believed that the universe was not static and orderly but ever-changing and chaotic. His most important work, Pragmatism (1907), examines the practical consequences of behavior and rejects the idealist philosophy of the transcendentalists. This philosophy seems to reinforce the tenets of social Darwinism and the idea of financial success as the justification of the means in a materialistic society; nevertheless, James strove to demonstrate the practical value of ethical behavior. Overall, James's lifelong concern with what he called the "stream of thought" or "stream of consciousness" changed the way writers conceptualize characters and present the relationship between humans, society, and the natural world. He died due to heart failure on August 26, 1910. (Bowker Author Biography) — biography from The Varieties of Religious Experience… (more)
The Varieties of Religious Experience 4,929 copies, 35 reviews
The Principles of Psychology 685 copies, 2 reviews
Psychology: The Briefer Course 325 copies, 1 review
The Meaning of Truth 179 copies, 1 review
A Pluralistic Universe 121 copies, 1 review
Essays on faith and morals 62 copies, 2 reviews
Selected papers on philosophy 57 copies, 2 reviews
The Heart of William James 46 copies, 2 reviews
The Will to Believe 41 copies, 1 review
Habit 27 copies, 1 review
On Some of Life's Ideals 25 copies, 1 review
The energies of men 9 copies, 1 review
Is Life Worth Living? 9 copies, 1 review
Psychology 2 copies
Philosophy 1 copy
The Best American Essays of the Century (Contributor) 736 copies, 4 reviews
The Age of Analysis: The 20th Century Philosophers (Contributor) 392 copies, 2 reviews
The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: A Poetry Anthology (Contributor) 369 copies, 3 reviews
Altered States of Consciousness: A Book of Readings (Contributor) 236 copies, 2 reviews
Western Philosophy: An Anthology (Author, some editions) 173 copies
Man and Spirit: The Speculative Philosophers (Contributor) 165 copies, 1 review
The American [Norton Critical Edition] (Contributor) 144 copies, 1 review
Pragmatism: The Classic Writings (Contributor) 82 copies
American Heritage: A Reader (Contributor) 72 copies
God (Hackett Readings in Philosophy) (Contributor, some editions) 54 copies
Range of Philosophy (Contributor) 47 copies

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