Lec 4- William James - Lecture 4- William James and the...

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Lecture 4- William James and the origins of American Psychology Notes made from Chapter 4 of book. William James (1842-1910) It may be argued that, in some respects, modern American psychology is a series of footnotes to William James’s two volume masterpiece; THE PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGY (1890). James tried medicine, art, chemistry, zoology and philosophy before settling on teaching physiology and anatomy at Harvard in 1873. During the early 1870’s James and his rewind PEIRCE displayed their philosophical skills in the ‘Metaphysical Club’. In 1875, four years before WUNDT’S LEIPZIG laboratory, James began giving instruction in physiological psychology, using a small psychological laboratory, and in 1889 James was appointed professor of Psychology. Ironically, after 1890 his interests moved increasingly towards Philosophy, particularly the advocacy of pragmatism. In 1901-1902 he returned to psychology in his famous Gifford lectures at Edinburgh, published as ‘The Varieties of Religious Experience’ otherwise his last years were devoted to philosophy. What was Williams so disturbed? The determinism vs. free will debate particularly occupied him during his early twenties. The philosophy of PRAGMATISM which Pierce and he, along with John Dewey, later developed was very much aimed at rescuing the notion of free will in human affairs. This in itself casts James in an ambiguous light as far as scientific Psychology is concerned, for his commitment to the adequacy of science to account for human nature was always less than wholehearted. Why James is so significant is partly because his position is so obviously ambivalent regarding psychology, and because the ambiguities and paradoxes he raised have remained with the discipline ever since (ALLPORT, 1943). He was also different form most pioneers of American psychology by not wanting to be completely scientific. The pi Principles of psychology itself are a highly ambiguous work. WUNDT allegedly exclaimed on reading it ‘IT’S LITERATURE, IT’S BEAUTIFUL, BUT IT’S NOT PSYCHOLOGY’. Many of the ideas expressed had already appeared in journal form, hence much of it was already known by his contemporaries.
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This note was uploaded on 05/04/2008 for the course PSYCH 2007 taught by Professor Na during the Winter '06 term at Trinity College Dublin.

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Lec 4- William James - Lecture 4- William James and the...

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