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William James, dubbed the “Father of American Psychology,” began his career as a physician before going on to become one of the country’s most prominent and influential philosophers and psychologists. He is also one of the most prominent figures linked with the pragmatism philosophical system. He is also credited with being one of the founding fathers of functional psychology. He also looked into religion, morality, metaphysics, human freedom, and social philosophy, with the support of many of the theories he developed. His work was more impactful because of his radical worldview and unusual writing style. His works cover a wide range of subjects, including metaphysics, religion, education, psychology, and many more. His philosophical school of thought impacted famous minds such as Edmund Husserl, Bertrand Russell, Richard Rorty, and US President Jimmy Carter, who could not ignore it.

Childhood and Adolescence

Henry James, Sr. and Mary Walsh James had their first child, William James, on January 11, 1842 in Aston House, New York.

Henry James Sr., his father, was a Swedenborgian theologian. He was born into a well-educated household, with his father emphasizing the importance of a good education for his children.

Due to his lack of happiness and indecisiveness, William James’ early interests in drawing led him to study under an American portraitist, William Morris Hunt (1860). However, his love for art did not survive long.

He didn’t start Harvard Medical School until 1863, after studying chemistry and physiology at Harvard’s Lawrence Scientific School.

Because of his trans-Atlantic schooling, William James became fluent in German and French during his family’s many excursions to Europe.

James has suffered from health problems since he was a child. Due to health issues, he had to abandon his volunteer involvement in the American Civil War in 1861 and a research voyage to Brazil. He finally received his medical degree in 1869 after a series of pauses, but he never practiced.

James was drawn to France and Germany by severe health issues and periods of despair, where he studied with Hermann von Helmholtz and developed an interest in psychology.

Career of William James

He was offered a job as an instructor after a year after graduation, which he accepted and served for 35 years. He began teaching psychology in the mid-1870s.

He is credited with being the first to introduce psychology as a discipline and the first to establish psychology laboratories in the United States.

He began teaching physiology in 1872 and progressed to anatomy and philosophy after that.
James spent the most of 1882-1883 throughout Europe, touring laboratories and meeting psychologists in order to learn more about psychological investigations and techniques.

He shifted his concentration to philosophy after resigning from the Harvard psychology lab.
Gradually, he switched his concentration to empirical research on themes like God, immortality, and morals.

His publications are both quantitative and qualitative, and he is a firm believer in functionalism in psychology and pragmatism in philosophy.

Theodore Roosevelt, George Santayana, G. Stanley Hall, Ralph Barton Perry, Morris Raphael Cohen, Walter Lippmann, Alain Locke, C. I. Lewis, Mary Whiton Calkins, and Gabriel Wells were among his Harvard students.

Major Projects of William James

William James is the author of a number of classics. They have had a significant impact on people’s attitudes toward society, the mind, and the body. He was a prolific writer in the fields of psychology, philosophy, and religion.
His first published work in philosophy was titled “The Sentiment of Rationality.”

The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy: The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy is the first book on philosophy dedicated to Charles Sanders Peirce (1897).
Talks about psychology with teachers and some of life’s ideals with students (1899).

The Principles of Psychology (1890), a book that took ten years to produce yet influenced great minds such as Bertrand Russell and John Dewey, was published in 1890.

His lectures The Varieties of Religious Experience (1920) are based on religious experiences and focus on the underlying basis of religious experiences as well as the numerous energies that influence religionists’ thought process.

His last two books, Pragmatism (1907) and A Pluralistic Universe (1909), were published during his lifetime.
He was working on a book called ‘Some Problems of Philosophy’ in his final years, but it was never finished. Memories and Studies was edited and published by his son Henry.

His son Henry arranged his Collected Essays and Reviews and The Letters of William James into two volumes (1920)

The American Society for Psychical Research was also created by him. William James was rated 14th on the list of most eminent psychologists of the twentieth century, according to an empirical analysis by Haggbloom (based on six factors such as citations, recognition, and so on).

William James’ theories

James is strongly associated with the development of pragmatic theory, which holds that there is no proof behind an idea. The focus should always be on the idea’s utility rather than the reality behind it.

James was opposed to the structural approach to event analysis. He advocated that an event be considered as a single event that is impacted by environmental circumstances.

The James-Lange Theory of Emotion states that any occurrence causes a physiological response that must be interpreted. Each interpretation is unique, resulting in a range of feelings in response to a particular occurrence.

Personal History and Legacy

Henry James and Alice James, two of his five siblings, were well-known novelists and diarists, respectively. The other two were involved in the American Civil War.

In 1878, William James married Alice Howe Gibbens, a schoolteacher. After his marriage, he had five children and remained in Cambridge. After losing their 2-year-old son Herman to whooping cough, James was devastated.

He had a variety of health problems as a child, including problems with his eyes, back, skin, and stomach. He suffered from severe mental illnesses such as neurasthenia and depression, which led to suicidal thoughts.

In 1910, he tried experimental remedies for his health problems, but all were in vain, and he died of heat exhaustion on August 26, 1910, in Chocorua, New Hampshire, and was interred in a family cemetery in Cambridge Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

William James Net Worth

William is one of the wealthiest philosophers and one of the most well-known philosophers. William James’ net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.