Reinterpreting the Legacy of William James

Reinterpreting the Legacy of William James

Reinterpreting the Legacy of William James

Reinterpreting the Legacy of William James

Synopsis

William James, author of The Principles of Psychology presented psychology as a natural science, but resorted to philosophy for clarification of certain concepts. Reinterpreting the Legacy of William James examines how James's master work might have been revised in light of his later pluralistic, pragmatic approach to psychology and philosophy. A group of psychologists, philosophers and historians contribute 23 chapters that probe this and other questions in a broad-based collection focused on the contemporary relevance of the work of James.

Excerpt

During the year 1990, I had the good fortune to be president of the Division of General Psychology (Division 1) of the American Psychological Association (APA). I invited Margaret E. Donnelly to organize our convention program, and because 1990 was the centenary year of the publication of William James's book, The Principles of Psychology, she decided that the major theme of the program would be James's influence on contemporary American psychology. This was very well received, and the chapters in this volume are a selected group of the total presentations on this topic. It is with great pleasure that I agreed to write the foreword for this book, which we have titled Reinterpreting the Legacy of William James.

William James has had a tremendous impact on psychology—in his day as well as in the present. His interests were broad and diverse. He was a radical empiricist and a pragmatist. He stressed the application of psychology to everyday problems, opposing the narrow and exclusive perspective of the laboratory approach alone. Although James shared an interest in the study of sensation and perception with Gustav Fechner, his investigation followed a more philosophical stance, in opposition to Fechner's argument that sensations can be analyzed into individual quantifiable elements. At the same time, James praised Fechner for his originality of thought and scientific approach to psychology. Views held today by many psychologists that propose a unification of the discipline were also suggested by James, who advocated an understanding of the diversity as well as of the convergence of widely different points of view. As such, James's approach to psychology was inclusive of a wealth of human experience.

James was a proponent of free will, believing that one's first act of free will is to believe in it. As a young man, he suffered an episode of severe depression and, at different periods of his life, was plagued by recurrences from which he sought relief through sheer belief in the curative influence . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.