Psychologist at Large: An Autobiography and Selected Essays

By Edwin G. Boring | Go to book overview

Human Nature vs. Sensation:
William James and the Psychology
of the Present
1942

William James was born on 11 January 1842, and in 1942 the Department of Philosophy and Psychology at Harvard University planned a centennial celebration, a symposium of papers about James and his influence, a symposium that was never held because travel was restricted during the Second World War. Nevertheless I published my paper and this is it. There is a basic dichotomy in systematic psychology, a dichotomy in which James was on one side and I (especially then) on the other. It was natural, however, for me to resort to the theme that has been with me these many years, the theme that the progress of thought and discovery depends to some extent upon the personalities of the thinkers and the discoverers. Thus I suggest here that the issue between Jamesians and modem positivists may not require resolution, that psychology's great scientific endeavor needs not only division of labor but also the division of personality that makes complementary and even incompatible activities essential for progress. Or, if I did not say just that, at least this paper represented progress in my own thinking toward that subsequent opinion.


WILLIAM JAMES ON SENSATION

William James and the psychology of sensation: that is my topic. Yet the outstanding thing about James in this connection

____________________
Reprinted with permission from the American Journal of Psychology, 1942, vol. 55, 310-327.

-194-

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