Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

William James (1842-1910) was born in New York City on January 11, 1842. His father, Henry James was a Swedenborgian theologian. William James received very good education when he was young and travelled a lot. After graduating from school, he worked at Harvard University, first as an instructor of anatomy and physiology, then professor of philosophy and psychology.


In psychology James is best known for the “stream of consciousness” approach to mental phenomena which he held in opposition to the then dominant structuralism. James believed that mental processes ought to be studied as processes and not as static bits of consciousness as the structuralists had suggested. In philosophy, he is best known for his pragmatistic philosphy.


Some of William James’s works are The Principles of Psychology (1890). A Textbook of Psychology (1892), The Will to Believe (1897), The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), Pragmatism, A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking (1907), A Pluralistic Universe (1909), Some Problems of Philosophy (1911), Memories and Studies (1911), Essays in Radical Empiricism (1912).