William James's Use of Temperment and Types

David E. Leary, University of Richmond


What did William James mean when he claimed that the history of philosophy is “to a great extent” a “clash of human temperaments”? Did this mean that philosophers, in his estimation, are bound to represent one or the other type, or orientation, associated with various generalized philosophical positions? Did it mean that philosophers were necessarily, in his terminology, either “tender-minded” or “tough-minded”? And if philosophical arguments are, in fact, expressions of physiological factors, through what means do these factors achieve expression? What, in sum, did James mean to imply when he invoked the concept of “temperament” and used the related notion of categorical “type”? How are we to understand and apply whatever insights he had to offer?