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William James



48 Quotation(s) Total:

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...Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have...
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William James

...Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have...
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William James

..I cannot believe that our muscular vigor will ever be a superfluity. Even if the day ever dawns in which it will not be needed for fighting the old heavy battles against Nature, it will always be needed to furnish the background of sanity, serenity and cheerfulness to life, to give moral elasticity to our disposition, to round off the wiry edge of our fretfulness, and make us good humored and easy of approach. Weakness is too apt to be what doc...
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William James

..the mere giving way to tears, for example, or to the outward expression of an anger-fit, will result for the moment in making the inner grief or anger more acutely felt.

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William James

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.

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William James

Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulation the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.

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William James

Again, in order to feel kindly toward a person to whom we have been inimical, the only way is more or less deliberately to smile, to make sympathetic inquiries, and to force ourselves to say genial things.

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William James

All feeling whatever, in the light of certain recent psychological speculations, seems to depend for its physical condition not on simple discharge of nerve currents, but on their discharge under arrest, impediment, or resistance. Just as we feel no particular pleasure when we breathe freely, but a very intense feeling of distress when the respiratory motions are prevented,-- so any obstructed tendency to action discharges itself without the prod...
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William James

An idea, to be suggestive, must come to the individual with the force of a revelation.

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William James

As Charles Lamb says, there is nothing so nice as doing good by stealth and being found out by accident, so I now say it is even nicer to make heroic decisions and to be prevented "by circumstances beyond your control" from even trying to execute them.

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William James

Compared to what we ought to be, we are half-awake.

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William James

Even the least religious men must have felt with Walt Whitman, when loafing on the grass on some transparent summer morning, that, "swiftly arose and spread round him the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth." At such moments of energetic living we feel as if there were something diseased and contemptible, yea vile, in theoretic grubbing and brooding. In the eye of healthy sense the philosopher is at best a learned fool.

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William James

Every time a resolve or fine glow of feeling evaporates without bearing fruit, it is worse than a chance lost; it works to hinder future emotions from taking the normal path of discharge.

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William James

Every way of classifying a thing is but a way of handling it for some particular purpose.

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William James

First a new theory is attacked as absurd; then it is admitted to be true, but obvious and insignificant; finally it is seen to be so important that its adversaries claim that they themselves discovered it.

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William James

From our acts and from our attitudes ceaseless inpouring currents of sensation come, which help to determine from moment to moment what our inner states shall be."

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William James

How to gain, how to keep. how to recover happiness is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure.

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William James

I am done with great things and big things, great institutions and big success, and I am for these tiny invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man's pride.
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William James

I hope that here in America more and more the ideal of the well-trained and vigorous body will be maintained neck and neck with that of thee well trained and vigorous mind as the two coequal halves of the higher education for men and women alike.

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William James

If this life be not a real fight, in which something is eternally gained for the universe by success, it is no better than a game of private theatricals from which one may withdraw at will, But it feels like a real fight-- as if there were something really wild in the universe.


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William James

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