"... [H]ow exactly did James’s personal characteristics, experiences, and concerns impact upon his philosophy? To answer that question we will need to look further back, well before he started publishing the works for which he is best known within philosophy: before, that is, Prag-matism (1907), A Pluralistic Universe (1909), The Meaning of Truth (1909), and the posthumously collected Essays in Radical Empiricism (1912). Before and behind these works was the work that Santayana (among many others) called James’s greatest achievement (Santayana 1920/2009: 585); namely, his monumental Principles of Psychology (1890).2 So the questions we need to ask are: (1) What were the personal characteristics, experiences, and concerns – the personal psy-chology – that shaped James’s thought? (2) How was this personal psychology manifested in his professional psychology? and (3) How was his philosophy rooted in his psychology, both personal and professional? We will ﬁnd that these questions are stated too simply, since the formation of James’s philosophical views was under way from the very beginning. But with appropriate qualiﬁcations along the way, this division of labor and progression – from the personal context of James’s life to the development of his psychology and thence to the articulation of his philosophy – will provide an effective means of elucidating the personal nature of James’s thought."
Copyright © 2022 selection and editorial matter Sarin Marchetti; individual chapters, the contributors. This chapter first appeared in The Jamesian Mind, edited by Sarin Marchetti.
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Leary, David E. "The Psychological Roots of William James's Thought." In The Jamesian Mind, edited by Sarin Marchetti, 33-48. London: Routledge, 2022.