By Linda Simon
This primary complete biography of William James in approximately a iteration brings us the fellow alive in all his complexity. highbrow insurgent, romantic pragmatist, aristocratic pluralist, James used to be either a towering determine of the 19th century and a springboard into the 20th century. Constitutionally against the pressure and balance of the 19th century, James guided his iteration towards the ambivalence, unpredictability, and indeterminacy of the days that undefined. His explorations of pluralism and pragmatism for contemporary psychology and well-known the opportunity of a number of views lengthy earlier than Cubism. "The notice 'or'" he as soon as wrote, "names a real reality." benefiting from a wealthy diversity of resources, between them 1,500 letters written among James and his spouse, Alice, acclaimed biographer Linda Simon creates an intimate portrait of this multifaceted and contradictory guy. Exploring James within the context of this irrepressible kin, his diversified and sometimes quirky buddies, and the cultural and political forces to which he so energetically spoke back, Simon weaves the various threads of William James's existence right into a actual, and colourful, fact.
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Additional resources for Genuine Reality: A Life of William James
Henry's breakdown caused an immediate shift in power within the family. Now Mary and her sister had three children to care for, but one was thirty-three. Henry needed to be shielded from disturbances, in cluding the demands of his two young sons. Deeply depressed, in a "ghastly condition of mind," he no longer participated in the life of the family. Suddenly, for Willy and Harry, the father who continually hov ered over their activities inexplicably withdrew. He competed with his sons for his wife's attentions; he needed to be soothed, loved, nurtured.
The first step toward my ac knowledging the evil of my doings," he concluded, "is my perception of its being a foreign influx or importation. "34 By blaming mischievous spirits for his depression and guilt, James was free to believe that he himself was a good, indeed, a splendid, per son. The true essence of selfhood, Swedenborg taught him, came from God and therefore could be nothing other than good. Rejecting the self allowed James to give up striving for success as an intellecrual. There was no need for competition in Swedenborg's universe, where all were equal, all capable of sharing in Divine love.
This distinction between private and public, sub jective and objective, would haunt his children throughout their lives. James was not the conventional Victorian father who saw his chil dren at prayers and dinner. He was always at home, and when he lifted his gaze from the pages he was reading or writing, he focused on his young sons toddling in the garden. As his letters reveal, James planned many family activities to respond to his perception of his children's needs; these excursions and visits sometimes were curtailed by the chil dren's health or fatigue, and, no doubt, Henry's hopes about his chil dren's responses to his outings often were not realized.