William James Lectures

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The William James Lectures are a series of invited lectureships at Harvard University sponsored by the Departments of Philosophy and Psychology, who alternate in the selection of speakers. The series was created in honor of the American pragmatist philosopher and psychologist William James, a former faculty member at that institution. It was endowed through a 1929 bequest from Edgar Pierce, a Harvard Alumnus, who also funded the prestigious Edgar Pierce Chair in Philosophy and Psychology. Pierce stipulated that the delivered lectures be open to the public and subsequently published by the Harvard University Press.[1] The program was initiated in 1930 and has continued to the present. Its invited lecturers have included some of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. In some cases, the selection of lecturer has generated considerable controversy.[2][3][4]

Chronological list of invited lectureships[edit]

This compilation is based on a mimeographed list found in the clippings file at the Harvard Library Archives. The mimeographed list only covered the lectures delivered through 1971. The remaining items were supplied by searching for relevant monographs in the catalogs of the Harvard Library and the Library of Congress; one further lecture was sourced as noted in the following footnote. Since not all of the lecture series resulted in a published book, the list may be incomplete.

Published versions of the lectures[edit]

  • Austin, J.L. (1962). How to do things with words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Ayer, A.J. (1971). Russell and Moore: The analytical heritage. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Broadbent, D.E. (1934). In defense of empirical psychology. London: Methuen.
  • Campbell, D.T. (1988). Methodology and epistemology for social science: Selected papers (E. Samuel Overman, Ed.). NY: Minton, Balch & Company.
  • Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience. NY: Minton, Balch & Company.
  • Dummett, M. (1991). The logical basis of metaphysics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Gilson, E. (1937). The unity of philosophical experience. NY: C. Scribner's Sons.
  • Goldstein, K. (1940). Human nature in the light of psychopathology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Grice, H. P. (1989). Studies in the way of words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Köhler, W. (1938). The place of value in a world of facts. NY: Liveright Publishing.
  • Lovejoy, A.O. (1934). The great chain of being: A study of the history of an idea. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
  • Marcel, G. (1963). The existential background of human dignity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Newell, A. (1990). Unified theories of cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Russell, B. (1940). An inquiry into meaning and truth. NY: W.W. Norton.
  • Simon, H. (1979). Models of thought. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Skinner, B.F. (1957). Verbal behavior. NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
  • Thorndike, E.L. (1943). Man and his works. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Wollheim, R. (1984). The thread of life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


  1. ^ Harvard Alumni Bulletin, 34 (22), (Fri. March 4, 1932).
  2. ^ Monk, R. (2001). Bertrand Russell: The ghost of madness, 1921–1970. NY: Free Press.
  3. ^ Stevenson, M. D. (2016). "My personal ruin passes unnoticed": Russell, Harvard, and the 1940 William James lectureship. Russell: The Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies(36), 45–64.
  4. ^ Schweber, S.S. (2008). Einstein and Oppenheimer. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

External links[edit]