Quotes & Interesting Facts – William James

A physician, psychologist, and philosopher of the Pragmatic school, James’ work covers topics stretching from education and epistemology to metaphysics and mysticism.

His book The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, foreshadowed his pragmatic philosophy. In it, he argues that religious experiences are human experiences and discusses the possible causes of mystical events. His long-outdated text Principles of Psychology was immensely popular and influential in shaping early American psychology. When measuring by citations, James was one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century.

Interesting Facts About William James

  • James was the oldest of five children. His brother Henry was the famous novelist, and his sister Alice became well known for her posthumous diaries.
  • James was at first interested in studying art, but then turned to science.
  • In youth he suffered from eye, back, stomach, and skin problems and was diagnosed as “neurasthenic.”
  • He experienced depression and, at times, prolonged suicidal thoughts. While some of his ailments might be considered “psychosomatic” today, he did eventually die of heart failure.

Quotes By William James

  • Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
  • The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.
  • Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.
  • The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.
  • The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
  • The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
  • Wherever you are it is your own friends who make your world.
  • A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
  • The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
  • Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.
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