101+ William James Quotes From The Father Of American Psychology

William James conducted experiments to understand loss of balance.
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William James, the American philosopher and psychologist, brought the concept of psychology into the American medical and educational system.

He was a believer in Pragmatism, introduced Functionalism, and was the first to offer a psychology course in America. His contribution to psychology in America earned him the title of the 'Father Of American Psychology'.

Born on 11 January 1842 in New York, William was the first of five children born into a scholarly family. William James made great use of life, showing keen interest in art in the early stages of his life before learning painting from William Morris Hunt. Although he was interested in art, William also loved science, and eventually enrolled himself at the Lawrence Scientific School where he studied psychology and chemistry. Later on, he studied at Harvard Medical School and received his medical degree in 1869.

Even though William James earned his medical degree, he had no desire to practice medicine. He wanted to teach the fascinating concepts of psychology, so he decided to become a lecturer at Harvard University teaching philosophy and psychology concepts.

In 1890 he became famous for publishing one of the most influential books for all thinkers around the world, 'The Principles Of Psychology'. William's 1902 publication of 'The Varieties Of Religious Experience' became one of his most important pieces of work amongst his several other books such as 'Pragmatism' (1907) and 'A Pluralistic Universe' (1909).

His contribution to the field of psychology has been invaluable for all future studies, so it is worth having a look at these William James quotes to learn more. Let's go through some of the most important William James quotes from his life and work, and once you're done with this we've got plenty more in our [Sigmund Freud quotes] and [Kant quotes].

Thought-Provoking Quotes By William James

William James was a natural thinker and these important quotes are worth pondering over.

1. "There is nothing so absurd that it cannot be believed as truth if repeated often enough."

-William James.

2. "A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."

-William James.

3. "The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook."

-William James.

4. "To change one's life: 1. Start immediately. 2. Do it flamboyantly. 3. No exceptions."

-William James.

5. "The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another."

-William James.

6. "We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep."

-William James.

7. "The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes."

-William James.

8. "Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."

-William James.

9. "Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task."

-William James.

10. "Thoughts become perception, perception becomes reality. Alter your thoughts, alter your reality."

-William James.

11. "There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man’s lack of faith in his true self."

-William James.

12. "The greatest use of a life is to spend it for something that will outlast it."

-William James.

13. "Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune."

-William James.

14. "If you believe that feeling bad or worrying long enough will change a past or future event, then you are residing on another planet with a different reality system."

-William James.

15. "The mind is made up by what it feeds upon."

-William James.

16. "There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision."

-William James.

17. "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated."

-William James.

18. "Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact."

-William James.

19. "You may not get everything you dream about, but you will never get anything you don't dream about."

-William James.

20. "Most unhappiness is caused because people listen to themselves... instead of talking to themselves."

-William James.

People And Consciousness William James Quotes

Learn about consciousness and the way it affects our lives as per William James.

21. "As we take, in fact, a general view of the wonderful stream of our consciousness, what strikes us first is this different pace of its parts."

-William James.

22. "Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different."

-William James.

23. "This absolute determinability of our mind by abstractions is one of the cardinal facts in our human constitution."

-William James.

24. "As the brain changes are continuous, so do all these consciousnesses melt into each other like dissolving views. Properly they are but one protracted consciousness, one unbroken stream."

-William James.

25. "There is but one indefectibly certain truth, and that is the truth that pyrrhonistic skepticism itself leaves standing, - the truth that the present phenomenon of consciousness exists."

-William James.

26. "The total possible consciousness may be split into parts which co-exist but mutually ignore each other."

-William James.

27. "The whole universe of concrete objects, as we know them, swims… in a wider and higher universe of abstract ideas, that lend it its significance."

-William James.

28. "The whole drift of my education goes to persuade me that the world of our present consciousness is only one out of many worlds of consciousness that exist."

-William James.

29. "The drunken consciousness is one bit of the mystic consciousness, and our total opinion of it must find its place in our opinion of that larger whole."

-William James.

30. "Man lives in only one small room of the enormous house of his consciousness."

-William James.

James preferred to teach rather than practicing medicine.

William James Quotes On Religion

Understand the ideals of religion with these William James quotes; religion is believed to be an important factor for overall moral development.

31. "By being religious we establish ourselves in possession of ultimate reality at the only points at which reality is given us to guard. Our responsible concern is with our private destiny, after all."

-William James.

32. "If there were such a thing as inspiration from a higher realm, it might well be that the neurotic temperament would furnish the chief condition of the requisite receptivity."

-William James.

33. "When we survey the whole field of religion, we find a great variety in the thoughts that have prevailed there; but the feelings on the one hand and the conduct on the other are almost always the same."

-William James.

34. "The highest flights of charity, devotion, trust, patience, bravery to which the wings of human nature have spread themselves have been flown for religious ideals."

-William James.

35. "There are two lives, the natural and the spiritual, and we must lose the one before we can participate in the other."

-William James.

36. "The word divine... shall mean... only such a primal reality as the individual feels impelled to respond to solemnly and gravely."

-William James.

37. "The theorizing mind tends always to the oversimplification of its materials."

-William James.

38. "We need... a kind of good that will not perish, a good in fact that flies beyond the goods of nature."

-William James.

39. "Like every other instinctive eagerness and impulse, religion adds to life an enchantment which is not rationally or logically deducible from anything else."

-William James.

40. "It does not follow, because our ancestors made so many errors of fact and mixed them with their religion, that we should therefore leave off being religious at all."

-William James.

William James Quotes From A Thinker's Mind

William James was a thinker, much like every philosopher. Here are some quotes to delve into his mind.

41. "Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."

-William James.

42. "Successful men act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality."

-William James.

43. "Everybody should do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice."

-William James.

44. "There can be no existence of evil as a force to the healthy-minded individual."

-William James.

45. "Men habitually use only a small part of the power which they actually possess."

-William James.

46. "The world is all the richer for having a devil in it, so long as we keep our foot upon his neck."

-William James.

47. "We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of the cause."

-William James.

48. "Why should we think upon things that are lovely? Because thinking determines life."

-William James.

49. "A winner's attitude: it may be difficult, but it's possible. A loser's attitude: It may be possible, but it's too difficult."

-William James.

50. "Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed."

-William James.

51. "Positive images of the future are a powerful and magnetic force."

-William James.

52. "Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity."

-William James.

53. "We forget that every good that is worth possessing must be paid for in strokes of daily effort."

-William James.

54. "The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour."

-William James.

55. "There is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood by those who hear it."

-William James.

56. "When a thing is new, people say 'It is not true.' Later, when its truth becomes obvious, they say 'It is not important.' Finally, when its importance cannot be denied, they say 'Anyway, it is not new.'"

-William James.

57. "Give your dreams all you've got, and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you."

-William James.

58. "The soul is stronger than its surroundings."

-William James.

59. "The minute a man ceases to grow, no matter what his years, that minute he begins to be old."

-William James.

60. "Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly and you will be amazed at the positive results."

-William James.

William James Life Quotes

Let's distill the meaning of life with these quotes on life by William James.

61. "Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact."

-William James.

62. "All natural goods perish. Riches take wings; fame is a breath; love is a cheat; youth and health and pleasure vanish."

-William James.

63. "How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness, is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure."

-William James.

64. "We need only in cold blood act as if the thing in question were real, and keep acting as if it were real, and it will infallibly end by growing into such a connection with our life that it will become real."

-William James.

65. "It is a common habit to blame life upon the environment. Environment modifies life but does not govern life."

-William James.

66. "Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life."

-William James.

67. "Our errors are surely not such awfully solemn things. In a world where we are so certain to incur them in spite of all our caution, a certain lightness of heart seems healthier than this excessive nervousness on their behalf."

-William James.

68. "Tell him to live by yes and no - yes to everything good, no to everything bad."

-William James.

69. "We have grown literally afraid to be poor. "

-William James.

70. "This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it."

-William James.

71. "Need and struggle are what excite and inspire us; our hour of triumph is what brings the void."

-William James.

72. "He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had tried and failed."

-William James.

73. "How can the moribund old man reason back to himself the romance, the mystery, the imminence of great things with which our old earth tingled for him in the days when he was young and well?"

-William James.

74. "The best argument I know for an immortal life is the existence of a man who deserves one."

-William James.

75. "The impulse to take life strivingly is indestructible in the race."

-William James.

76. "Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul None is more gladdening or fruitful than to know You can regenerate and make yourself what you will."

-William James.

77. "Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed. which give happiness."

-William James.

78. "If this life be not a real fight, in which something is eternally gained for the universe by success, it is no better than a game of private theatricals from which one may withdraw at will."

-William James.

79. "It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all."

-William James.

80. "If merely 'feeling good' could decide, drunkenness would be the supremely valid human experience."

-William James.

Famous Philosophical Quotes By William James

James took 10 years to complete his work on 'The Principles of Psychology'.

These famous quotes show why William James' decision to pursue philosophy was beneficial for both himself and the world.

81. "It is as if the opposites of the world, whose contradictoriness and conflict make all our difficulties and troubles, were melted into unity."

-William James.

82. "Wherever you are it is your own friends who make your world."

-William James.

83. "All the higher, more penetrating ideals are revolutionary. They present themselves far less in the guise of effects of past experience than in that of probable causes of future experience."

-William James.

84. "The emotions aren't always immediately subject to reason, but they are always immediately subject to action."

-William James.

85. "Mystical states cannot be sustained for long. Except in rare instances, half an hour, or at most an hour or two, seems to be the limit beyond which they fade into the light of common day."

-William James.

86. "Our science is a drop, our ignorance a sea."

-William James.

87. "The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual; the impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community."

-William James.

88. "There is but one unconditional commandment, which is that we should seek incessantly, with fear and trembling, so to vote and to act as to bring about the very largest total universe of good which we can see."

-William James.

89. "We don't laugh because we're happy - we're happy because we laugh."

-William James.

90. "As time, space, and the ether soak through all things so do abstract and essential goodness, beauty, strength, significance, justice, soak through all things good, strong, significant, and just."

-William James.

91. "Science as such assuredly has no authority, for she can only say what is, not what is not."

-William James.

92. "Philosophy is at once the most sublime and the most trivial of human pursuits."

-William James.

93. "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."

-William James.

94. "All our scientific and philosophic ideals are altars to unknown gods."

-William James.

95. "If any organism fails to fulfill its potentialities, it becomes sick."

-William James.

96. "Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing."

-William James.

97. "'Facts are the bounds of human knowledge, set for it, not by it."

-William James.

98. "Our belief at the beginning of a doubtful undertaking is the one thing that ensures the successful outcome of the venture."

-William James.

99. "Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way."

-William James.

100. "To know is one thing, and to know for certain that we know is another one."

-William James.

101. "I have to forge every sentence in the teeth of irreducible and stubborn facts."

-William James.

102. "Science, like life, feeds on its own decay. New facts burst old rules; then newly divined conceptions bind old and new together into a reconciling law."

-William James.

103. "Every perception is an acquired perception."

-William James.

104. "What the whole community comes to believe in grasps the individual as in a vise."

-William James.

At Kidadl, we have created lots of family-friendly quotes for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our William James quotes, then why not take a look at these [Wittgenstein quotes], or [Descartes quotes] too?

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