Who is William James?

Who is William James?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

American philosopher, founder of pragmatism.

He is the son of a wealthy immigrant family of Irish descent. His childhood was spent traveling in Europe. Previously, he could not receive a regular education. He later studied medicine and natural sciences at Harvard University. He became a doctor of medicine in 1869 and a professor at Harvard University in 1885. Here he taught physiology, biology, philosophy and psychology. His first important work was The Principles of Psychology (1890). He laid out the principles of the philosophical system in his book called Pragmatism (1907). His philosophical view is based on the concepts of practicality, usefulness and efficiency.

According to James, things such as knowledge, personality, consciousness, genuine thought are evaluated in terms of usefulness, efficiency, practicality. It is work and practice, not theory, that counts; What exists in life, is applicable, and produces an effect is real. No matter how true or visible it is mentally and abstractly, anything that has no practice and does not make an impact in life is of no value and is not considered real.

James, who created the first psychology lab in America, pragmatism, “what are the consequences?” he asks and turns the face of thought towards action and the future. As a matter of fact, James gave importance to concrete facts and actions that directly concern life, power and action that directly affect people’s life now and in the near future. By usefulness, he wants to mean not only the satisfaction of the material needs of the individual, but also everything that contributes to the development of man and society. In this sense, religion, according to James, is completely true and it is necessary to make judgments about religion by looking at its consequences. He says he does not know whether religion has a metaphysical value. But religion, according to James, is in any case a useful assumption.

Also please see:

– Accuracy and usefulness relationship
– What is reality and radical empiricism as a process?
– Wiliam James’ understanding of pragmatism

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook