This article, the first in a two-part sequence, will cast new light on the well-known “crisis of William James” by presenting evidence regarding the previously unrecognized role of Arthur Schopenhauer’s thought in shaping and intensifying the way in which James experienced this crisis. It will also relate Schopenhauer’s influence to prior issues that had concerned James, and in an appendix it will provide an overview of other areas in which Schopenhauer seems to have influenced James, both during and after his personal crisis. The second article in this sequence will present evidence in support of the strong possibility that John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress played a previously unrecognized role in inspiring James’s means of defense against the frightening hallucination and panic fear that characterized his crisis. It will also present an argument regarding the probable influence of his defensive measures upon his subsequent views on the nature and importance of attention and will in human life. Along the way, it will identify James’s specific, newly discovered copy of Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress and the specific, newly discovered Bible through which he developed familiarity with the scriptural phrases that helped him get through his ordeal.

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Copyright © 2015 The William James Society. This article first appeared in William James Studies 11 (2015), 1-27.

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