The fundamental basis of William James's psychology - the rock-bottom foundation on which it is constructed - is "the stream of thought" or "the stream of consciousness. " 1* The first and preeminent characteristic of our flowingly continuous experience of "thought" or "consciousness," James (1890/1983d) said, is that it is personal (pp. 220-224). Every thought, every psychological experience, is mine, or hers, or his, or yours. For this reason, he suggested, "the personal self rather than the thought [or consciousness] might be treated as the immediate datum in psychology" (p. 221).2 Indeed, James was strongly convinced that "no psychology ... can question the existence of personal selves. The worst a psychology can do is so to interpret the nature of these selves as to rob them of their worth" (p. 221).
Copyright © 1990 From Reflections on The Principles of Psychology: William James After a Century by Michael G. Johnson and Tracy B. Henley. Reproduced by permission of Taylor and Francis Group, LLC, a division of Informa plc.
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Leary, David E. "William James on the Self and Personality: Clearing the Ground for Subsequent Theorists, Researchers, and Practitioners." Reflections on The Principles of Psychology: William James after a Century. Ed. William James, Michael G. Johnson, and Tracy B. Henley. Hillsdale, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates, 1990. 101-37. Print.