Reflections on the Principles of Psychology: William James after a Century

By Michael G. Johnson; Tracy B. Henley | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
The Implications
of James's Plea
for Psychology
as a Natural Science

Amedeo Giorgi

Saybrook Institute
and
University of Quebec at Montreal

It is well known that James was an unsystematic, and even paradoxical, writer ( Allport, 1943) and that throughout his works he spiced his observations with personal biases and whimsies. He would open an article or section of a book with a guiding idea and immediately proceed to outstrip its logical boundaries. Perhaps the novelist in him kept him close to a descriptive attitude, which in turn kept his attention riveted on a concretely unfolding phenomenon so that its logical borders mattered less than the interesting twists and turns that the phenomenon was taking. In any event, this discursive side of James is what keeps him interesting and why it is vital still to return to his works even a century later. It is also why even his explicit statements have to be taken with a grain of salt and have to be understood contextually.

The thesis of this chapter is that James's style also surrounded his plea for psychology as a natural science. At face value, it seemed as though James's voice was simply one more plea in the chorus of the time making the case for a natural scientific approach to psychology. Yet, his attitude toward scientific psychology was that it was, at best, only "the hope of a science," and his antipathy toward the Fechnerian and Wundtian style of research was equally well known ( James, 1890, I: 192-193, 549; Perry, 1936, p. 30). But he did insist that psychology should be a natural science even as he researched and commented on multiple personalities, witchcraft, and religious experiences ( Taylor, 1982). The purpose of this chapter is to tease out, to the extent possible, what James meant by making psychology a natural science and then to draw out some implications of that meaning for contemporary psychology.

-63-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Reflections on the Principles of Psychology: William James after a Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 323

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.