William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism

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The definitive biography of the fascinating William James, whose life and writing put an indelible stamp on psychology, philosophy, teaching, and religion—on modernism itself.

Often cited as the “father of American psychology,” William James was an intellectual luminary who made significant contributions to at least five fields: psychology, philosophy, religious studies, teaching, and literature.
 
A member of one of the most unusual and notable of American families, James struggled to achieve greatness amid the brilliance of his theologian father; his brother, the novelist Henry James; and his sister, Alice James. After studying medicine, he ultimately realized that his true interests lay in philosophy and psychology, a choice that guided his storied career at Harvard, where he taught some of America’s greatest minds. But it is James’s contributions to intellectual study that reveal the true complexity of man.
 
In this biography that seeks to understand James’s life through his work—including Principles of Psychology, The Varieties of Religious Experience, and Pragmatism—Robert D. Richardson has crafted an exceptionally insightful work that explores the mind of a genius, resulting in “a gripping and often inspiring story of intellectual and spiritual adventure” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
 
“A magnificent biography.” —The Washington Post
 

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Contents

Prologue
1
I Growing Up Zigzag
9
II The Action of Consciousness
115
III The Principles of Psychology
191
IV The Varieties of Religious Experience
299
V The Philosopher
417
Epilogue
521
Chronology
525
James Family Geneology
528
Notes
530
Principle Sources
586
Index
590
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About the author (2007)

Robert D. Richardson is the author of Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind and Emerson: The Mind on Fire. He is the recipient of the Francis Parkman Prize, the Frederic G. Melcher Book Award, and the Bancroft Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, among many other honors.

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