William James, 1842-1910

Portrait

Biographical note

Pioneering American psychologist and philosopher. He wrote influential books on the young science of psychology, educational psychology, psychology of religious experience and mysticism, and the philosophy of pragmatism.

James studied medicine, physiology, and biology, and began to teach in those subjects, but was drawn to the scientific study of the human mind at a time when psychology was constituting itself as a science. James's acquaintance with the work of figures like Hermann Helmholtz in Germany and Pierre Janet in France facilitated his introduction of courses in scientific psychology at Harvard University. He taught his first experimental psychology course at Harvard in the 1875-1876 academic year.

He was the brother of novelist Henry James and of diarist Alice James.

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