William James
This article is about the American psychologist and philosopher. For other people named William James see William James (disambiguation)
William James (disambiguation)
William James was a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher.William James may also refer to:*William James , MP for Kent* W. Frank James , U.S. Representative from Michigan...

William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was a pioneering American psychologist
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 and philosopher
American philosophy
American philosophy is the philosophical activity or output of Americans, both within the United States and abroad. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy notes that while American philosophy lacks a "core of defining features, American Philosophy can nevertheless be seen as both reflecting and...

 who was trained as a physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

. He wrote influential books on the young science of psychology, educational psychology
Educational psychology
Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the social psychology of schools as organizations. Educational psychology is concerned with how students learn and develop, often focusing...

, psychology of religious
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 experience and mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

, and on the philosophy of pragmatism
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice...


The most any one can do is to confess as candidly as he can the grounds for the faith that is in him, and leave his example to work on others as it may.

"The Dilemma of Determinism" (1884)

Wherever you are it is your own friends who make your world.

As quoted in The Thought and Character of William James (1899) by Ralph Barton Perry, Vol. II, ch. 91

Tell him to live by yes and no — yes to everything good, no to everything bad.

As quoted in The Thought and Character of William James (1899) by Ralph Barton Perry, Vol. II, ch. 91

Every way of classifying a thing is but a way of handling it for some particular purpose.