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The Varieties Of Religious Experience, By William James
William James (1842-1910)
A Note On The Author Of
"The Varieties Of Religious Experience"
road by which William James arrived at his position of leadership among
American philosophers was, during his childhood, youth and early maturity,
quite as circuitous and unpredictable as were his father's ideas on the
training of his children. That Swedenborgian theologian foresaw neither
the career of novelist for his son Henry, nor that of pragmatist
philosopher for the older William. The
father's migrations between New York, Europe and Newport meant that
William's education had variety if it did not have fixed direction. From 13 to 18 he studied in Europe and returned to Newport,
Rhode Island, to study painting under the guidance of John La Farge.
After a year, he gave up art for science and entered Harvard
University, where his most influential teachers were Louis Agassiz and
Charles W. Eliot. In 1863,
William James began the study of medicine, and in 1865 he joined an
expedition to the Amazon. Before long, he wrote:
"If there is anything I hate, it is collecting." His
studies constantly interrupted by ill health, James returned to Germany
and began hearing lectures and reading voluminously in philosophy.
He won his medical degree at Harvard in 1870.
For four years he was an invalid in Cambridge, but finally, in
1873, he passed his gravest physical and spiritual crises and began the
career by which he was to influence so profoundly generations of American
students. From 1880 to 1907
he was successively assistant professor of philosophy, professor of
psychology and professor of philosophy at Harvard.
In 1890, the publication of his Principles of Psycholog brought him
the acknowledged leadership in the field of functional psychology.
The selection of William James to deliver the Gifford lectures in
Edinburgh was at once a tribute to him and a reward for the university
that sponsored the undertaking. These
lectures, collected in this volume, have since become famous as the
standard scientific work on the psychology of the religious impulse.
Death ended his career on August 27th, 1910.