William James’s Concrete Analysis of Experience

The Monist 75 (4):538-550 (1992)

Abstract
There are no signs of waning interest in William James's classic work, The Principles of Psychology as we enter the second century after its original publication in 1890. I think the time is right for undertaking the task of reconstructing his psychology, that is, his concrete or phenomenal findings, in light of his radically empiricist philosophical insights. The immediate problem for such a reappropriation is that James sharply distinguished between scientifically neutral descriptions of reality, such as are found in Principles, and metaphysical or epistemological reconstructions of such findings, such as he undertakes in his philosophy of radical empiricism. In this essay I will show that James's profound ambivalence about whether we find or create experienced objects must be explicitly raised and resolved before the concrete methodology and findings of Principles can be fully integrated into his radically empirical hermeneutics of praxis and thus constitute his concrete analysis of experience.
Keywords William James  Epistemology  Experience  Knowledge  American philosophy  James
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ISBN(s) 0026-9662
DOI 10.5840/monist199275430
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