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Philosopher of The Month: William James (timeline)

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This January the OUP Philosophy team honours the American psychologist and philosopher William James (1842-1910) as their Philosopher of the Month. James is considered one of the most influential figures in the history of modern psychology.James was born into a wealthy New York family in 1841, the son of a Swedenborg theologian, and the brother of the famous novelist, Henry James. He received a private education at home, and with the family made frequent trips to Europe. At the age of 18 he begun an education as an artist and studied painting with the prominent American artist William Morris Hunt, but subsequently abandoned art. He went on to study chemistry and comparative anatomy at Harvard University before switching to Harvard Medical School in 1864 where he formed a lasting and important friendship with another philosopher, Charles Sanders Pierce. Although he graduated with a medical degree in 1869, he never practiced it.Throughout his life, James was often subject to depressions and ill health. In 1870 he suffered a nervous breakdown which made him incapable of any work. In 1872, after his health had improved, he was offered the post to teach anatomy and physiology at Harvard by its president, Charles Eliot. In 1870 he expanded his teaching to include psychology and was instrumental in establishing the university’s psychology department and the first American experimental psychology laboratory. He then taught philosophy in 1879 and was appointed Professor of Philosophy at Harvard in 1885.Image Credit: Portrait of William James by John La Farge, circa 1859, National Gallery. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.James’ first major and ground-breaking work, The Principles of Psychology (1890) in two volumes brings together physiology, experimental psychology, philosophy, elements of pragmatism, and phenomenology. He challenged the established psychological and philosophical thoughts of his day from the associationist school to the Hegelianism school by suggesting. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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