William James
WILLIAM JAMES  Macroknow Library

The Principles of Psychology (Volume 1).

"The great thing, then, in all education, is to make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy. . . For this we must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we can . . . The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automation, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work."1a*

"The aim of science is always to reduce complexity to simplicity . . ."1b ARISTOTLE BOOLE PLANCK EINSTEIN WIGNER CRICK BROMLEY WATSON

"Consciousness . . . is nothing jointed; it flows. A "river" or a "stream" are the metaphors by which it is most naturally described. In talking of it hereafter, let us call it the stream of thought, of consciousness, or of subjective life."1c

"Knowledge about a thing is knowledge of its relations. . .
In all our voluntary thinking there is some topic or subject about which all the members of the thought revolve. . .
Relation, then, to our topic of interest is constantly felt in the fringe, and particularly the relation of harmony and discord, of furtherance or hindrance of the topic."

"Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. Focalization, concentration, of consciousness are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others . . ."1e BOOLE

"Geniuses are commonly believed to excel other men in their power of sustained attention."1f

"A native talent for perceiving analogies is reckoned. . . as the leading fact in genius of every order. . . I think I emphasize it enough when I call it one of the ultimate foundation-pillars of the intellectual life, the others being Discrimination, Retentiveness, and Association."1g*

"All improvement of memory consists, then, in the improvement of one's habitual methods of recording facts."1h*

The Principles of Psychology (Volume 2).

"There are . . . two ways of studying every psychic state. First, the way of analysis: What does it consist in? What is its inner nature? Of what sort of mind stuff is it composed? Second, the way of history: What are the conditions of production, and its connection with other facts?"2a

". . . the most elementary single difference between the human mind and that of brutes lies in this deficiency on the brute's part to associate ideas by similarity . . ."2b*

"Effort of attention is thus the essential phenomenon of will."2c

"The same objects, compared in the same way, always give the same results . . .
This last principle, which we may call the axiom of constant result, holds good throughout all our mental operations . . ."2d* LOCKE

"This PRINCIPLE OF MEDIATE COMPARISON might be briefly . . . expressed by the formula "more than the more is more than the less" . . .
. . . This AXIOM OF SKIPPED INTERMEDIARIES or of TRANSFERRED RELATIONS occurs . . . in logic as the fundamental principle of inference . . . It seems to be on the whole the broadest and deepest law of man's thought."2e*

"How could our notion that one and one are eternally and necessarily two ever maintain itself in a world where every time we add one drop of water to another we get not two but one again? . . . At most we could then say that one and one are usually two."2f* ARISTOTLE DESCARTES PASCAL BERKELEY VOLTAIRE SANTAYANA RUSSELL POPPER ORWELL DRUCKER PENROSE

"The widest postulate of rationality is that the world is rationally intelligible throughout . . ."2g


* Italics in the original.

1 William James (1842-1910). The Principles of Psychology (Volume 1).  Henry Holt & Co., 1890. Alice H. James, 1918. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1950. (First published by Henry Holt & Co. in 1890.)
a Chapter iv: Habit, at 122.
b Chapter ix: The Stream of Thought, at 230.
c Ibid., at 239.
d Ibid., at 259.
e Chapter xi: Attention, at 403-4.
f Ibid., at 433.
g Chapter xiii: Discrimination and Comparison, at 530.
h Chapter xvi: Memory, at 667.

2 William James (1842-1910). The Principles of Psychology (Volume 2).  Henry Holt & Co., 1890. Alice H. James, 1918. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1950. (First published by Henry Holt & Co. in 1890.)
a Chapter xxi: The Perception of Reality, at 283.
b Chapter xxii: Reasoning, at 360.
c Chapter xxvi: Will, at 562.
d Chapter xxviii: Necessary Truths and the Effects of Experience, at 644-5.
e Ibid., at 645-6.
f Ibid., at 655.
g Ibid., at 677.