Toward a Science of Human Nature: Essays on the Psychologies of Mill, Hegel, Wundt, and James

By Daniel N. Robinson | Go to book overview

5. WILLIAM JAMES

Genius reveals itself in varied modes, attracting the largest following through the mode of invention but shaping the consciousness of an age chiefly through the modes of analysis and synthesis. Neither Mill nor Hegel nor Wundt may be said to have invented or discovered some great scientific principle permitting the world to achieve a specific goal more quickly or effectively. The same is true of William James. He founded no school, unearthed no verity, solved no problem. But like Mill and Hegel, and to a greater extent than Wundt, he traced out the boundaries of thought and supplied the terms with which an entire generation would discuss and understand Psychology. On some accounts, he might be credited with founding a laboratory for experimental psychology at Harvard even before Wundt's at Leipzig, but it is surely not on this basis that his significance depends. 1 He is also and less equivocally credited with initiating courses in physiological psychology, again at Harvard, in the 1870s, but as we shall see he is scarcely to be remembered as one who would have tied mental science to biology. If we are to discover the nature of James' influence on his contemporaries and immediate successors, we must look past those of his activities which seemed to have anticipated our own interests and toward those that spoke to the dominant interests of his time.

Since many articles and more than one doctoral dissertation have labored to establish priority in the matter of

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Toward a Science of Human Nature: Essays on the Psychologies of Mill, Hegel, Wundt, and James
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1. the Nineteenth Century 1
  • 2. John Stuart Mill 31
  • 3. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel 83
  • 4. Wilhelm Wundt 127
  • 5. William James 173
  • 6. the Nineteenth Century Revisited a Postscript 217
  • BIOGRAPHICAL OUTLINES 229
  • Notes 237
  • Index 253
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