Tuesday, March 18, 2008

thought and action.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
William James (1842-1910)

This assumes, of course, that one is actually doing something - not just talking about doing something, talking about what others should be doing, or reacting to events, i.e., complaining about what others have done.

I like Wm. James. He's the same guy who refuted scepticism (and promoted 'faith') by saying:
Dupery for dupery, what proof is there that dupery through hope is so much worse than dupery through fear?

I wonder what he would make of the "believe" campaign. . . .


Lee Anne said...

I'm about to head into William James territory, mostly biographical and his ideas on invalidism.

Alice James was an invalid, and I'm interested in knowing just what he felt about invalidism. Their father, Henry Sr., believed that everyone should achieve "greatness" even if that greatness was in doing nothing. Be a spectacular failure!

Alice James wanted to die really well. She wrote in relation to her brothers' successes, "if I can get myself dead, the hardest job of all" then she would add to the family legacy of success.

So, back to my question: what do you suggest is a must-read of Wm. James? I know Principles of Psychology...

prophet said...

I would say his Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature would be insightful, insofar as James talks of healthy- and sick-mindedness and/or the "sick soul". . . .

Another book I found interesting was Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club, which talks about the relationship between many of the thinkers of that time: Peirce, Dewey, James, Holmes - and their families - including the impact that Darwin had on many of them (and that impact was apparently very pronounced in Wm. James, leading to a profound spiritual crisis (only briefly described in Varieties of Relig. Exp.). . . .) The book won the Pulitzer Prize in History. Here's a quick take on it in the Harvard Gazette


Finally - maybe also The Will to Believe (and other essays) - which, beside the interesting Will to Believe, includes an essay entitled "Is Life Worth Living?". . . . recently re-released by Barnes & Noble Books. They have also re-released his book Pragmatism, which also talks about his view of "truth".

Good hunting!

Lee Anne said...

Wow! Thank you, prophet! This list rocks! You rock!