The Heart of William James

The Heart of William James

4.53 (30 ratings by Goodreads)
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On the one hundredth anniversary of the death of William James, Robert Richardson, author of the magisterial "William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism," assembles a wide-ranging selection of essays and writings that reveal the evolution of James' thought over time, especially as it was continually being shaped by the converging influences of psychology, philosophy, and religion throughout his life. Proceeding chronologically, this volume begins with 'What Is an Emotion,' James' early, notable, and still controversial argument that many of our emotions follow from (rather than cause) physical or physiological reactions. This book concludes with 'The Moral Equivalent of War,' one of the greatest anti-war pieces ever written, perhaps even more relevant now than when it was first published.
In between, in essays on "The Dilemma of Determinism," "The Hidden Self," "Habit," and "The Will"; in chapters from 'The Principles of Psychology' and 'The Varieties of Religious Experience'; and, in such pieces as "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings," "What Makes a Life Significant," and "Philosophical Conceptions and Practical Results," we witness the evolution of James' philosophical thinking, his pragmatism, and his radical empiricism. Throughout, Richardson's deeply informed introductions place James' work in its proper biographical, historical, and philosophical context. In essay after essay, James calls us to live a fuller, richer, better life, to seek out and use our best energies and sympathies. As every day is the day of creation and judgment, so every age was once the new age - and as this book makes abundantly clear, William James' writings are still the gateway to many a new world.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 155 x 235 x 29.97mm | 703.07g
  • Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • English
  • 1 line illustration
  • 0674055616
  • 9780674055612
  • 612,845

Review quote

An admirably broad overview of the author's expansive output. Scattered too among classic essays are lesser known gems such as "The Ph.D. Octopus," a brief disquisition on higher education, and a fascinating 1910 essay on war that might raise some modern eyebrows for its exhortation to substitute war between men for "warfare against nature." Publishers Weekly 20100701 Editor Richardson provides a perceptive introduction to the material, as well as separate insights into each selection. -- Leon H. Brody Library Journal 20100722 William James, brother of the--in some quarters--more famous Henry, was that rarest of beings, a philosopher who wrote clear, elegant, and exciting prose. In The Heart of William James, James's biographer Robert Richardson has put together a dazzling selection of this great thinker's work, with perfectly judged short pieces to usher in each of the selections. -- John Banville The Guardian 20101127 It is difficult for any selection to do justice to the thought of William James, and difficult as well for a reviewer to do justice to the seventeen fine essays collected in The Heart of William James. He is fortunate to have Robert Richardson as his biographer, editor and interpreter, a kindred spirit whose admiration for James is thoroughly compounded with his enjoyment of him. He makes the great man accessible as if he were presenting an honored friend, ready to step out of the way and allow a wonderful conversation to begin. And James is indeed a remarkable acquaintance, full of the pleasures of fine prose and humorous insight, and demanding all the same. -- Marilynne Robinson The Nation 20101123 James seeks to instruct his readers in how they can achieve their best selves, how they can retain and expand and nourish their individuality. As this collection makes clear, he has good reason to fear that that individuality is being squandered. In fact, the subtext of all the essays in this collection might very well be: Americans are in perennial danger of surrendering their Americanness, and I will do my best to stop them...It was, and is, the role of William James, the articulator if not the keeper of the faith, to remind us of who we are and who we were meant to be. -- Peter Savodnik Commentary 20110101
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About William James

Robert Richardson is an independent scholar who has taught at the University of Denver, Harvard University, and several other schools.
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30 ratings
4.53 out of 5 stars
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4 33% (10)
3 7% (2)
2 0% (0)
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