Science and the Spirit according to the Elder Henry James
The various orders which we behold in nature, the distribution of her kingdoms and her tribes and families, the succession of her seasons, and the grand choral procession of her forces out of brute chaos and confusion into exact scientific symmetry and adjustment, do but typify the invisible things of man's spirit.
HENRY JAMES, SR., 1852.
For all of his parental concern and intellectual commitment to romantic child rearing, Henry James could not resist a deeply felt hope that William would keep the family faith. In his educational plans the senior James harbored an earnest desire for his eldest son to become a scientist, because he felt that the field would complement his own intense religious convictions. While in other times and different contexts, religion could find little life, nor even a warm reception, in the works of science, Henry James firmly believed that an education in science would be the best way for young William to maintain interest in and enthusiasm for a spiritual outlook on the world.
The elder James sometimes wondered if he himself should "learn science and bring myself first into men's respect, that thus I may the better speak to them." 1 He never did follow his scientific ambitions, except to place them vicariously on his son. He hoped that scientific training would gain for William James a wider acceptance than he had received with his own unorthodox philosophy. When his son was considering other fields, the elder James admitted, "I had always counted upon a scientific career for Willy, and I hope the day