Books by William James
Books about William James

Biography: William James

Philosopher, psychologist; born in New York City (brother of Henry James ). After a broad education in Europe and a brief try at becoming an artist, he completed Harvard Medical School in 1869. Plagued by ailments and depression, he never practiced but did recover his energies, partly by placing faith in free will. He joined the Harvard faculty in 1872, teaching physiology, then psychology. He established America's first psychology laboratory and took twelve years to complete his massive Principles of Psychology (1890), which evocatively described mental and physical processes while summing up the current state of psychology and introducing new theories. As a philosophy professor (from 1880) he sought to reconcile his empiricism with religious faith, largely by a "pragmatic" theory that made the truth of beliefs depend on their consequences. He made a respectful study of psychological aspects of religion in lectures published as Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) and developed his theory of reality as "pure experience" in articles (1904--05) published posthumously as Essays in Radical Empiricism (1912). His vivid style, broad sympathies, and concern for basic issues have kept him a central figure in American thought.



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