99 Famous Quotes By William James That Give A New Perspective To Life
New York City, New York
Founder / Co Founder:
American Society for Psychical Research
American psychology owes a lot to this man - William James, Father of American Psychology. William James was the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States. Trained as an American philosopher, psychologist and physician, James was one of the leading thinkers of the late nineteenth century, which made him the most influential philosopher of United States. He was one of the major figures associated with the philosophical school of pragmatism, and was also one of the founders of functional psychology. James was responsible for the development of the philosophical perspective known as radical empiricism. His work influenced a lot of intellectuals including prominent statesmen, leaders, writers and even President Jimmy Carter. A prolific writer, James in his lifetime penned variedly on a wide range of topics, including epistemology, education, metaphysics, psychology, religion, and mysticism. His most famous work, ‘The Principles of Psychology’ is counted amongst his most influential books. It contains ground-breaking work from him in the field of psychology, radical empiricism, philosophy and religion. A leader of the philosophical movement of Pragmatism and of the psychological movement of functionalism, James work constitutes of several quotes that reflect his ideology and give a new outlook to situations and life. Browse through this section and find out some famous quotes by William James.
The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook. The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude. Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep. To change one’s life:
1. Start immediately.
2. Do it flamboyantly.
3. No exceptions. The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is. Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact. If you can change your mind, you can change your life. Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude. The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world. Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh. Anything you may hold firmly in your imagination can be yours. Our view of the world is truly shaped by what we decide to hear. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds, Begin to be now what you will be hereafter. There are no differences but differences of degree between different degrees of difference and no difference. Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives. Good-humor is a philosophic state of mind; it seems to say to Nature that we take her no more seriously than she takes us. I maintain that one should always talk of philosophy with a smile. If merely 'feeling good' could decide, drunkenness would be the supremely valid human experience. If you believe that feeling bad or worrying long enough will change a past or future event, then you are residing on another planet with a different reality system. If any organism fails to fulfill its potentialities, it becomes sick. Procrastination is attitude's natural assassin. There's nothing so fatiguing as an uncompleted task We may be in the Universe as dogs and cats are in our libraries, seeing the books and hearing the conversation, but having no inkling of the
meaning of it all. Science, like life, feeds on its own decay. New facts burst old rules; then newly divined conceptions bind old and new together into a reconciling law. Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way. Knowledge about life is one thing; effective occupation of a place in life, with its dynamic currents passing through your being, is another. The moral flabbiness born of the exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That - with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word 'success' - is our national disease. My experience is what I agree to attend to. ...do every day or two something for no other reason that you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test. Belief creates the actual fact. I am no lover of disorder and doubt as such. Rather I fear to lose truth by the pretension to possess it already wholly. Philosophy is "an unusually stubborn attempt to think clearly. Religion is a monumental chapter in the history of human egotism. There are two lives, the natural and the spiritual, and we must lose the one before we can participate in the other. The aim of a college education is to teach you to know a good man when you see one. A sense of humor is just common sense dancing. This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it. A man with no philosophy in him is the most inauspicious and unprofitable of all possible social mates. We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice. The union of the mathematician with the poet, fervor with measure, passion with correctness, this surely is the ideal. It would probably astound each of us beyond measure to be let into his neighbors mind and to find how different the scenery was there from that of his own. It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all. The strenuous life tastes better If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, you mustn't seek to show that no crows are; it is enough if you prove one single crow to be white. I don't sing because I'm happy. I'm happy because I sing. A man has as many social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares. He generally shows a different side of himself to each of these different groups. The prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers. The lunatic's visions of horror are all drawn from the material of daily fact. Our civilization is founded on the shambles, and every individual existence goes out in a lonely spasm of helpless agony. Whilst part of what we perceive comes through our senses from the object before us, another part (and it may be the larger part) always comes out of our own mind. Most people, probably, are in doubt about certain matters ascribed to their past. They may have seen them, may have said them, done them, or they may only have dreamed or imagined they did so. As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use. Why may we not be in the universe, as our dogs and cats are in our drawingrooms and libraries? The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual; the impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community. Your hopes, dreams and aspirations are legitimate. They are trying to take you airborne, above the clouds, above the storms, if you only let them. Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit. There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision. All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits. Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not. Wisdom is seeing something in a non-habitual manner. The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives I am tired of the position of the dried-up critic and doubter. The believer is the true full man.
(from a biography of James by Robert D. Richardson) Philosophy lives in words, but truth and fact well up into our lives in ways that exceed verbal formulation. None of us are ever who we were yesterday. Invention, using the term most broadly, and imitation, are the two legs, so to call them, on which the human race historically has walked. All religions and spiritual traditions begin with the cry "Help! Seize the very first possible opportunity to act on every resolution you make, and on every emotional prompting you may experience in the direction of the habits you aspire to gain There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers. There's nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it. In order to disprove the assertion that all crows are black, one white crow is sufficient. Our colleges ought to have lit up in us a lasting relish for a better kind of man, a loss of appetite for mediocrities. The exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess sucess is our national disease Our experience is what we attend to The means have murdered the end. The attempt at introspective analysis... is in fact like seizing a spinning top to catch its motion, or trying to turn up the gas quickly enough to see the darkness. Whatever is beyond this narrow rational consciousness we mistake for our only consciousness. How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness, is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure Psychology is the science of mental life My thinking is first and last and always for the sake of my doing. We know the meaning so long as no one asks us to define it. We need only in cold blood ACT as if the thing in question were real, and keep acting as if it were real, and it will infallibly end by growing into such a connection with our life that it will become real. These then are my last words to you. Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour. I will act as if what i do makes a difference. Our intelligence cannot wall itself up alive, like a pupa in a chrysalis. It must at any cost keep on speaking terms with the universe that engendered it. An outree explanation, violating all our preconceptions, would never pass for a true account of a novelty. We should scratch round industriously till we found something less excentric. A stream of ideal tendency embedded in the external structure of the world. We ought to say a feeling of and, a feeling of if, a feeling of but, and a feeling of by, quite as readily as we say a feeling of blue or a feeling of cold.
As a rule reading fiction is as hard to me as trying to hit a target by hurling feathers at it. I need resistance to celebrate!
...the faith state...is the psychic correlate of a biological growth reducing contending-desires to one direction... [p.272]
There is something almost shocking in the notion of so chaste a function carrying this Kantian hurlyburly in her womb.
A man's Self is the sum total of all that he can call his, not only his body and his psychic powers, but his clothes and his house.
In truths dependent on our personal action, then, faith based on desire is certainly a lawful and possibly an indispensable thing. It's turtles all the way down.