Talk:William James

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Published works[edit]

THE PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGY (1890) was published about the time Freud first published and was used as a text at Harvard.

PRAGMATISM: A New Name For Some Old Ways of Thinking was a series of lectures delivered at Lowell Institute, Boston (November and December, 1906), and at Columbia University, New York (January, 1907).


Titchener reference?[edit]

Last two sentences of the penultimate paragraph under heading Career refer to E. B. Titchener, and have nothing to do with James. Any reason they should not be deleted? Brazzit (talk) 18:37, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

Made this deletion. Brazzit (talk) 21:00, 7 May 2013 (UTC)

Views on Spiritualism[edit]

I protest the anonymous reversion of my edit yesterday, in which I restored the following text from an earlier version (with a modification of the first paragraph):

James was the first president of the American branch of the Society for Psychical Research, in 1884 or 1885.

In 1885 James met Leonora Piper, a famous medium. He was soon convinced that Piper knew things she could only have discovered by supernatural means.[1] James expressed his belief that Piper's mediumistic abilities were genuine, saying, "If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, it is enough if you prove that one crow is white. My white crow is Mrs. Piper."[2] In 1909 William James published Expériences d'un Psychiste, a book which relates many experiments that he had with Mrs Piper. His first commentary about Piper was published in Science much earlier (1896):[3]

In the trances of this medium, I cannot resist the conviction that knowledge appears which she has never gained by the ordinary waking use of her eyes and ears and wits.

Professor James gave more detailed information about his first experiments with Mrs Piper in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research:[4]

I made Mrs. Piper's acquaintance in the autumn of 1885. My wife's mother, Mrs. Gibbens, had been told of her by a friend, during the previous summer, and never having seen a medium before, had paid her a visit out of curiosity. She returned with the statement that Mrs. P. had given her a long string of names of members of the family, mostly Christian names, together with facts about the persons mentioned and their relations to each other, the knowledge of which on her part was incomprehensible without supernormal powers. My sister-in-law went the next day, with still better results, as she related them. Amongst other things, the medium had accurately described the circumstances of the writer of a letter which she held against her forehead, after Miss G. had given it to her. The letter was in Italian, and its writer was known to but two persons in this country. [I may add that on a later occasion my wife and I took another letter from this same person to Mrs. P., who went on to speak of him in a way which identified him unmistakably again. On a third occasion, two years later, my sister-in-law and I being again with Mrs. P., she reverted in her trance to these letters, and then gave us the writer's name, which she said she had not been able to get on the former occasion.] But to revert to the beginning. I remember playing the esprit fort on that occasion before my feminine relatives, and seeking to explain, by simple considerations the marvellous character of the facts which they brought back. This did not, however, prevent me from going myself a few days later, in company with my wife, to get a direct personal impression. The names of none of us up to this meeting had been announced to Mrs. P., and Mrs. J. and I were, of course, careful to make no reference to our relatives who had preceded. The medium, however, when entranced, repeated most of the names of "spirits" whom she had announced on the two former occasions and added others. The names came with difficulty, and were only gradually made perfect. My wife's father's name of Gibbens was announced first as Niblin, then as Giblin. A child Herman (whom we had lost the previous year) had his name spelt out as Herrin. I think that in no case were both Christian and surnames given on this visit. But the facts predicated of the persons named made it in many instances impossible not to recognise the particular individuals who were talked about. We took particular pains on this occasion to give the Phinuit control no help over his difficulties and to ask no leading questions. In the light of subsequent experience I believe this not to be the best policy. For it often happens, if you give this trance-personage a name or some small fact for the lack of which he is brought to a standstill, that he will then start off with a copious flow of additional talk, containing in itself an abundance of "tests." My impression after this first visit was, that Mrs. P. was either possessed of supernormal powers, or knew the members of my wife's family by sight and had by some lucky coincidence become acquainted with such a multitude of their domestic circumstances as to produce the startling impression which she did. My later knowledge of her sittings and personal acquaintance with her has led me absolutely to reject the latter explanation, and to believe that she has supernormal powers.

The anonymous reverted commented "These are unreliable fringe sources." That's not true at all. This is a direct quote of William James. This section needs to give a better picture of what James thought on the issue. Therefore I am going to revert the reversion.

Eric Kvaalen (talk) 07:19, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

Theory of Self[edit]

I have started a page for William James' theory of self. Wanted to get some feedback on what I have so far. This is an assignment for my History of Psychology class at the University of Mary Washington. Here is the link:

Jason Rector (talk) 17:28, 21 November 2013 (UTC)


Why are the Jameses described as a "wealthy Muslim family"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:04, 8 September 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^ Report on Mrs. Piper's Hodgson- control' in Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, Volume 3' published by the American Society for Psychical Research, 1909
  2. ^ William James on Psychical Research compiled and edited by Gardner Murphy, MD and Robert O. Ballou, Viking Press, 1960, page 41
  3. ^ Science, New Series, Vol. 3, No. 77. (Jun. 19, 1896), pp. 881-888.
  4. ^ A Record of Observations of Certain Phenomena of Trance (1889-1890)- Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 1889-1890, 6, 436-659. Frederic W. H. Myers, Oliver J. Lodge, Walter Leaf and William James.