An admitted “Moral Psychologist”, James’s philosophies coincide with today’s
fields of Humanistic Psychology, Behavioral Psychology, and Transpersonal Psychology.
He, like Jung, dared to look outside the “normal” experiences of the mind and expand the
concepts of consciousness. More particularly, William James attempted to describe the
processes of the conscious rather than the definition of the conscious. He was the first to
introduce our nation to psychology as a standard educational course and the founder of
pragmatism which emphasizes the elimination of unnecessary thinking and finding truth
only if it is practically applicable. Practicality, James defines, as those ideas that can be
verified, collaborated, validated, and assimilated.
He believed consciousness to be exclusive, personal, and selective, a constant
“decision maker” subject to a sea of information and perceptions specific to each
individual. Every decision or choice is unique in that James believes that the process of
thinking is linear. Each thought, according to James, proceeds and influences the next
which he called the stream of consciousness. Because of the infinite number of “streams”
it is inevitable that each choice is totally original in it’s creation.
Within the process of selection lies the influences of the fringe, or the context that
gives meaning to the content (it is vague), and the nucleus (it is definite). Additionally,
James explains that without attention to a matter a decision can not be made, and that
habits are seemingly automatic responses to our experiences that often dictate our
decisions. Both must incorporate will which is described by Ja...
... middle of paper ...
...motions and his conclusions
of conscious processes are studies in: Biofeedback (a means of monitoring a biological
feedback used to train the participant to control their own “automatic” nervous system
through thought), Psychedelic Research (used to decipher the personal perception of self
in an altered state), Meditation (which is proving physiologically effective), Hypnosis
(being used as a tool to measure altered states and ultimately consciousness), and Multiple
Personality Disorders (how the “mind” splits creating entirely different personalities).
William James, lost among many prominent psychologists, has unfortunately
remained an often unappreciated theorist. However, those that are introduced to James
can not deny his significant educational and psychological contributions. Much of modern
psychology owes gratitude and respect to William James.
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