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WILLIAM JAMES (1842–1910)

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Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 144 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WILLIAM JAMES (1842–1910), American philosopher, son of the Swedenborgian theologian Henry James, and brother of the novelist Henry James, was born on the 11th of January 1842 at New York City. He graduated M.D. at Harvard in 1870. Two years after he was appointed a lecturer at Harvard in anatomy and physiology, and later in psychology and philosophy. Subsequently he became assistant professor of philosophy (188o–1885), professor (1885–1889), professor of psychology (1889–1897) and professor of philosophy (1897–1907). In 1899–1901 he delivered the Gifford lectures on natural religion at the university of Edinburgh, and in 1908 the Hibbert lectures at Manchester College, Oxford. With the appearance of his Principles of Psychology (2 vols., 1890), James at once stepped into the front rank of psychologists as a leader of the physical school, a position which he maintained not only by the brilliance of his analogies but also by the freshness and unconventionality of his style. In metaphysics he upheld the idealist position from the empirical standpoint. Beside the Principles of Psychology, which appeared in a shorter form in 1892 (Psychology), his chief works are: The Will to Believe (1897); Human Immortality (Boston, 1898); Talks to Teachers (1899); The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York, 1902); Pragmatism—a New Name for some Old Ways of Thinking (1907); A Pluralistic Universe (1909; Hibbert lectures), in which, though he still attacked the hypothesis of absolutism, he admitted it as a legitimate alternative. He received honorary degrees from Padua (1893), Princeton (1896), Edinburgh (1902), Harvard (1905). He died on the 27th of August 1910.
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