William James (philosopher)

William James
   William James (1842-1910), an American philosopher. He was the son of Henry James the theologian, and brother of Henry James the novelist. He was born in New York City. As a boy he attended private schools, and studied with tutors at home and abroad until nineteen years of age, when he entered the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University.
   In 1870 James was graduated from Harvard med­ical school, and two years later was appointed instructor of anatomy and physiology at that institution. In 1876 he was made assistant professor of physiology, later assistant professor of philosophy and in 1889 Harvard created for him a new chair of psychology. The following year Professor James published Principles of Psychology which at once became, and has remained a standard text-book on that subject. In 1884 William James helped to found the American Society for Psychical Research, in the work of which he took a keen interest. In 1897 he was, at his own request, transferred to the chair of philosophy. The same year he published The Will to Believe, followed shortly by Human ImmortalityTalks to Teachers and to Students and Varieties of Religious Experience. Other works are PragmatismA Pluralistic Universe, and the Meaning of Truth.
   As a writer William James is clear and direct, his fine imagination aiding him to make even abstruse subjects human enough to be readable. He takes high rank among philosophical writers. As a teacher and lecturer he was immensely popular. Thousands of his students are ready to declare him the most able teacher Harvard has ever had. As a philosopher William James is said to be the first American rightfully so called.