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Essays in Radical Empiricism

By William James / Longman / 1912


Print: $29.75


Is life worth living? This question, the title of one of William James’ essays, is one James himself struggled with in his life and work. Trained as a doctor, James never practiced medicine. Perhaps due to his own struggles with depression and melancholy, he was drawn to philosophy and psychology. That interest turned into a serious academic career. Known as the father of American psychology, James is the founder of functional psychology and cofounder of the James-Lange Theory of Emotion. He also wrote an important work on the psychology of religious experience. James’ philosophical work forms some of the seminal thinking on pragmatism—the belief that usefulness, not truth, should be the focus of philosophical ideas.

Essays in Radical Empiricism contains a number of James’ essays collected and published posthumously by his colleague Ralph Barton Perry. It contains essays from the whole of James’ career across a number of philosophical and psychological topics. The essays focus particularly on James’ theory of radical empiricism.

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Key Features

  • Immerses readers in an important work of American philosophy
  • Provides theories in essay form that support pluralistic empiricism
  • Explores William James’ philosophy throughout the entirety of his career


  • Does ‘Consciousness’ Exist?
  • A World of Pure Experience
  • The Thing and Its Relations
  • How Two Minds Can Know One Thing
  • The Place of Affectional Facts in a World of Pure Experience
  • The Experience of Activity
  • The Essence of Humanism
  • La Notion de Conscience
  • Is Radical Empiricism Solipsistic
  • Mr. Pitkin’s Refutation of ‘Radical Empiricism’
  • Humanism and Truth Once More
  • Absolutism and Empiricism

Product Details

  • Title: Essays in Radical Empiricism
  • Author: William James
  • Publisher: Longmans, Green, and Co.
  • Publication Date: 1912
  • Pages: 283
  • Christian Group: Evangelical
  • Resource Type: Collected Essays
  • Topic: Philosophy

About William James

William James (1842–1910) was born at the Astor House in New York City. His father, Henry James Sr., was a Swedenborgian theologian. His godfather was poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. James studied science at Harvard University and enrolled in Harvard Medical School, earning an MD in 1869. In 1878, he married Alice Gibbens, and in 1882, he became a member of the theosophical society. James suffered various forms of depression throughout his life. Though he studied medicine, he was drawn to philosophy and psychology. He began writing on these subjects and eventually began teaching at Harvard. He held professorships of both philosophy and psychology, ending his career as emeritus professor of philosophy in 1907. Medical historians consider him the 14th most eminent psychologist of the twentieth century.