William James
William James
  • The My Reading series offers personal models of what it is like to care about particular authors and works, and to show their effect upon a reader's own thinking and development
  • Shows how William James's work searched for the meaning of existence in the overlap between literature, psychology, philosophy, and biography
  • Considers William James's acute perception of the interior's fundamental validity in the perception of/making of the Real
  • Relates to issues of mental health and the attempted flourishing of life, despite the threats of pain and depression
  • Draws on the experience of the author and that of other readers

Discusses the life and work of William James, a founder of the study of psychology.
William James (1842-1910) was elder brother to the novelist Henry James and a founder of the study of psychology. But he was also a thinker who sought to work across conventional boundaries, and did not believe in separate disciplines or over-professionalized ways of thinking.
James was above all interested in those moments when thoughts suddenly come into being, 'hot' and 'alive'. William James is for anyone who has experienced the personal need for such thinking and feels the excitement of ideas. It concerns the personal experience of reading James, involving extensive quotation from his work in relation to Philip Davis' own inner life and the lives of other readers of James—a thinker who is defiantly convinced of the fundamental validity of the inner life in the making of the Real.
This book is about William James's life-writing, writing for the sake of existence, that puts together a mix of literature, psychology, philosophy, and biography in the search for purpose and human flourishing, in place of formal religion. It includes James' interest in his brother's novels and in Shakespearean drama, as well as Thomas Hardy's pessimistic challenge to James. Davis is a reader of literature who feels that readers of novels and poems also need the help of psychology and philosophy, to get the thinking out, to make it into a working part of a life. His book is for readers, especially readers of literature, seeking to create, like William James, a literary way of thinking outside the realm of literature.


1:The Start: 'I am a Motor'
2:The Pragmatic Grammar of William James
3:The Will to Believe
4:James's Field Work
5:'What Does Not Work'- Thomas Hardy
6:'Mental Drama'
Further Reading


Philip Davis, Emeritus Professor of Literature and Psychology, University of Liverpool
Philip Davis, Emeritus Professor of literature and psychology, was Director of the Centre for Research in Reading, Literature and Society (CRILS), University of Liverpool. His books include biographies of George Eliot and Bernard Malamud, and works on Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, Wordsworth, and the Victorians. His most recent publications include Reading and the Reader (OUP, 2013), Reading for Life (OUP, 2020), and with Fiona Magee, Arts for Health: Reading (Emerald Press, 2020). He is an editor of two OUP series, The Literary Agenda and My Reading, and Studies in Bibliotherapy for Anthem. His interests include reading and mental health, and shared reading in the community outside academe.


ISBN : 9780192847324

Philip Davis
208 ページ
142 x 223 mm





William James

William James

William James