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William James (1) (1842–1910)

Author of The Varieties of Religious Experience

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

126+ Works 13,083 Members 90 Reviews 45 Favorited

About the Author

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 show more 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) show less

Series

Works by William James

The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) 5,273 copies, 36 reviews
The Principles of Psychology (1890) 750 copies, 2 reviews
The Will to Believe, Human Immortality (1956) 454 copies, 3 reviews
Psychology: The Briefer Course (1892) 347 copies, 2 reviews
The Principles of Psychology, Vol. 2 (1890) 286 copies, 1 review
The Meaning of Truth (1909) 192 copies, 1 review
Essays in Radical Empiricism (1912) 158 copies
A Pluralistic Universe (1909) 130 copies, 1 review
William James: Selected Writings (1997) 120 copies, 1 review
Essays on faith and morals (1947) 67 copies, 2 reviews
Selected papers on philosophy (1917) 61 copies, 2 reviews
The Heart of William James (2010) 48 copies, 2 reviews
On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings (2009) 45 copies, 1 review
The Will to Believe (1995) 45 copies, 1 review
William James on Psychical Research (1960) 43 copies, 1 review
The Moral Equivalent of War (1910) 28 copies
Habit (1976) 27 copies, 1 review
Memories and studies (1911) 27 copies
On Some of Life's Ideals (1899) 25 copies, 1 review
The energies of men (2005) 10 copies, 1 review
Is Life Worth Living? (2005) 9 copies, 1 review
Text Book of Psychology (1892) 8 copies
Pragmatism: Selections (1981) 8 copies
On Vital Reserves (1988) 8 copies
Manuscript Lectures (1988) 6 copies
A William James reader (1972) 6 copies
Essays in Philosophy (1978) 4 copies
Pragmatizm (Ciltli) (2019) 3 copies
Psychologie und Erziehung (2006) 2 copies
La théorie de l'émotion (2006) 2 copies
L'idée de vérité (2013) 1 copy

Associated Works

The Best American Essays of the Century (2000) — Contributor — 788 copies, 4 reviews
The Age of Analysis: The 20th Century Philosophers (1955) — Contributor — 411 copies, 2 reviews
The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: A Poetry Anthology (1992) — Contributor — 394 copies, 3 reviews
Altered States of Consciousness: A Book of Readings (1969) — Contributor — 252 copies, 2 reviews
Western Philosophy: An Anthology (1996) — Author, some editions — 193 copies
Man and Spirit: The Speculative Philosophers (1947) — Contributor — 173 copies, 1 review
The American [Norton Critical Edition] (1978) — Contributor — 146 copies, 1 review
Pragmatism: The Classic Writings (1970) — Contributor — 91 copies
War No More: Three Centuries of American Antiwar and Peace Writing (2016) — Contributor — 87 copies, 1 review
American Heritage: A Reader (2011) — Contributor — 84 copies
God (Hackett Readings in Philosophy) (1996) — Contributor, some editions — 60 copies
The Range of Philosophy: Introductory Readings (1964) — Contributor — 54 copies
Pragmatic philosophy: an anthology (1966) — Contributor — 36 copies
Writing Politics: An Anthology (2020) — Contributor — 36 copies
Classic Essays in English (1961) — Contributor — 22 copies
Reading Philosophy of Religion (2010) — Contributor — 10 copies
Oh Excellent Air Bag: Under the Influence of Nitrous Oxide, 1799-1920 (2016) — Contributor — 7 copies, 1 review
Wijsgerige teksten over de wereld (1964) — Contributor — 2 copies

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Common Knowledge

Members

Reviews

 
Flagged
AnkaraLibrary | 1 other review | Feb 23, 2024 |
_The Varieties of Religious Experience_ builds to the climax of James explaining his philosophy of Pragmatism. What I think is important here to the religion vs. rationalism debate is that James has no time for established religion, dogma, or theology. Rather, he focuses on the mystical, individual life-changing experiences people have in sensing the presence of a higher power. These experiences are as real as falling in love - they are a psychological phenomenon that, according to James, bubble up from the subconscious and have direct, pragmatic, positive effects on a person's life. What is missing here is a discussion of cultural influence on these experiences - why do people in Christian culture only frame these experiences in terms of Christianity? Do people lack a language outside of their culture to describe these mystical experiences?… (more)
1 vote
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jonbrammer | 35 other reviews | Jul 1, 2023 |
The classic work by a brilliant psychologist on the variety and importance of religious experience.
 
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PendleHillLibrary | 35 other reviews | May 25, 2023 |
Selections from the writings of William James.
 
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PendleHillLibrary | Apr 19, 2023 |

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Works
126
Also by
25
Members
13,083
Popularity
#1,781
Rating
3.9
Reviews
90
ISBNs
775
Languages
19
Favorited
45

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