William James – American Philosopher

William James

William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910)

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William James is one of three American Philosophers highlighted in The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant. The other two American philosophers are George Santayana and John Dewey.  I commented on George Santayana’s philosophy in the Comment section of the essay CREATION.

This essay intoduces William James very briefly. For full introduction please refer to this Wikipedia article.

It is interesting to note that William James’ education had a cosmopolitan background. He had an early artistic bent, but, at the age of 19, he switched to scientific studies. Later he studied medicine but never practiced it.

In his early adulthood, James suffered from a variety of physical ailments. After an extended period of philosophical searching he finally resolved in 1872 what he called his “soul-sickness.” In 1873 he joined the faculty at Harvard University where he spent almost his entire academic career. He retired from Harvard in 1907. In 1882 he also joined the Theosophical Society.

He was one of the strongest proponents of the school of functionalism in psychology and of pragmatism in philosophy. He was a founder of the American Society for Psychical Research, as well as a champion of alternative approaches to healing. He challenged his professional colleagues not to let a narrow mindset prevent an honest appraisal of those beliefs.

I shall be commenting on the philosophy of William James (as summarized in the Wikipedia and in The Story of Philosophy) in the Comment section below.

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Comments

  • vinaire  On June 2, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    (Wikipedia) James defined true beliefs as those that prove useful to the believer. His pragmatic theory of truth was a synthesis of correspondence theory of truth and coherence theory of truth, with an added dimension. Truth is verifiable to the extent that thoughts and statements correspond with actual things, as well as the extent to which they “hang together,” or cohere, as pieces of a puzzle might fit together; these are in turn verified by the observed results of the application of an idea to actual practice.

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    I agree that for a belief to be steadfast it must be useful to the believer.

    Per James, “the ‘true’ is only the expedient in our way of thinking, just as the ‘right’ is only the expedient in our way of behaving.” He is making truth a function of the viewpoint.

    My view of truth is much more objective. I believe that the degree of “truth” depends (regardless of the viewpoint) on the consistency of that “truth” within the framework it is being used. An inconsistency indicates presence of arbitrary assumptions.

  • vinaire  On June 2, 2014 at 8:31 PM

    (Wikipedia) “The most ancient parts of truth . . . also once were plastic. They also were called true for human reasons. They also mediated between still earlier truths and what in those days were novel observations. Purely objective truth, truth in whose establishment the function of giving human satisfaction in marrying previous parts of experience with newer parts played no role whatsoever, is nowhere to be found. The reasons why we call things true is the reason why they are true, for ‘to be true’ means only to perform this marriage-function,” he wrote.

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    I believe that there is no absolute truth, and that all truths are relative and consistent.

    • Chris Thompson  On June 2, 2014 at 11:45 PM

      . . . and depending on the set that comprises our existence, if there is a superset to this existence, there may be a truth that is uniform for all of this existence. The problem is that we would never know it with a mind that is comprised only of the things which are a part of this set of existence.

      Possibly mind is evolving as well? Body evolves through changes in genetic code. Can mind evolve through changes in mental code and if so is any part of that under our control?

      • vinaire  On June 3, 2014 at 5:40 AM

        We may only speculate at the higher truths, but we may zero in to those higher truths gradually by recognizing “inconsistencies” (cracks in current level of existence) and resolving them one by one through keener obervation.

        This is called the Scientific Method. More broadly, it is referred to as Mindfulness.

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        • Chris Thompson  On June 3, 2014 at 1:09 PM

          Yes, and . . . if there is a superset to this existence, there may be a truth that is uniform for all of this existence.

          . . . and at that superset, its own set of truths may also be relative. From where we look, I see no reason to think otherwise, though my mind is open and looking without expectation except to resolve those inconsistencies which may from time to time – arise.

        • vinaire  On June 3, 2014 at 1:14 PM

          Instead of superset I think in terms of depth of abstraction.

          https://vinaire.me/2013/08/01/khtk-model-of-universe/
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        • Chris Thompson  On June 3, 2014 at 1:57 PM

          “Instead of superset I think in terms of depth of abstraction.”

          Ah! Then you do not believe in unknowable? “Depth of abstraction” sounds more like something I would say! hahaha

        • vinaire  On June 3, 2014 at 6:57 PM

          Think of the bottom of the rabbit hole…

        • Chris Thompson  On June 7, 2014 at 8:00 PM

          Bottom?

          Oh Vinay! You are a closet optimist! 🙂

        • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 8:07 PM

          The bottom of the rabbit hole is unknowable. 🙂

  • vinaire  On June 3, 2014 at 6:02 AM

    (Wikipedia) James held a world view in line with pragmatism, declaring that the value of any truth was utterly dependent upon its use to the person who held it. Additional tenets of James’s pragmatism include the view that the world is a mosaic of diverse experiences that can only be properly interpreted and understood through an application of “radical empiricism.” Radical empiricism, not related to the everyday scientific empiricism, asserts that the world and experience can never be halted for an entirely objective analysis, if nothing else the mind of the observer and simple act of observation will affect the outcome of any empirical approach to truth as the mind and its experiences, and nature are inseparable.

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    We observe people having misperceptions about their experiences. Therefore, how the truths are expressed needs to be carefully examined. While I agree with James’ pragmatism, I may question the expression of those truths, especially when expressed on a broad basis.

    I agree with radical empiricism in that both physical and metaphysical aspects of reality must be taken into consideration together. Physical and metaphysical aspects cannot be isolated from each other as done in religion. Unlike James I feel that one can also be objective about metaphysical aspects of reality.
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    • Chris Thompson  On June 3, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      “But I disagree with James in that one can also be objective about metaphysical aspects.”

      This was what I thought I was doing when I got involved with Scientology nearly 40 years ago, well any way it was what I was doing. That thrust to embrace all existence objectively is for me still an important key to accomplishing my spiritual and physical goals in life.

      • vinaire  On June 3, 2014 at 1:16 PM

        That is what I am trying to do in KHTK. One is misled to the degree one is not practicing mindfulness.

        James seems to be lacking the perspective of mindfulness.

        Mindfulness is the weapon we have.

  • vinaire  On June 3, 2014 at 7:01 AM

    (Wikipedia) James’s emphasis on diversity as the default human condition—over and against duality, especially Hegelian dialectical duality—has maintained a strong influence in American culture, especially among liberals (see Richard Rorty). James’s description of the mind-world connection, which he described in terms of a “stream of consciousness”, had a direct and significant impact on avant-garde and modernist literature and art.

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    The duality between ‘physics’ and ‘metaphysics’, or between ‘observed’ and ‘observer’, is an apparent condition. A closer look reveals an intimate interaction between the two seemingly opposites. A perception of ‘inconsistency’ is not a conflict between two opposites, but a more involved interaction. It cannot be resolved by a two- or multiple-valued logic. It needs to be approached with infinite-valued logic of mindfulness.
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    • Chris Thompson  On June 3, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      “The duality between ‘physics’ and ‘metaphysics’, or between ‘observed’ and ‘observer’, is an apparent condition.”

      . . . our abstraction. But a closer look reveals something else going on.

  • vinaire  On June 3, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    (Wikipedia) In What Pragmatism Means, James writes that the central point of his own doctrine of truth is, in brief, that “Truths emerge from facts, but they dip forward into facts again and add to them; which facts again create or reveal new truth (the word is indifferent) and so on indefinitely. The ‘facts’ themselves meanwhile are not true. They simply are. Truth is the function of the beliefs that start and terminate among them.” Richard Rorty claims that James did not mean to give a theory of truth with this statement and that we should not regard it as such. However, other pragmatism scholars such as Susan Haack and Howard Mounce do not share Rorty’s instrumentalist interpretation of James.

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    At one level seeing things “as they are,” or “for what they are” is the truth. But at another level we have an interaction between the observer and the observed. The many “observeds” affect each other, and so do many “observers.” The “equation of truth” appears quite complex.

    But this “complexity of truth” may be resolved by accepting the consistencies among what is there, and focusing only on the inconsistencies for closer observation. This will simplify the complexity by revealing new truths.

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    • Chris Thompson  On June 3, 2014 at 1:16 PM

      “The “equation of truth” appears quite complex.”

      Possibly there is a “fractal address” within a matrix which can or could be used to provide the relative frame of reference?

  • vinaire  On June 3, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    (Wikipedia) In The Meaning of Truth, James seems to speak of truth in relativistic terms: “The critic’s [sc., the critic of pragmatism] trouble…seems to come from his taking the word ‘true’ irrelatively, whereas the pragmatist always means ‘true for him who experiences the workings.’ ” However, James responded to critics accusing him of relativism, scepticism or agnosticism, and of believing only in relative truths. To the contrary, he supported an epistemological realism position.

    (Wikipedia) Epistemological realism is a philosophical position, a subcategory of objectivism, holding that what you know about an object exists independently of your mind. It opposes epistemological idealism.

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    When one practices mindfulness and perceives truth in terms of the degree of consistency or inconsistency, then it doesn’t matter whether what you know about an object exists independently of your mind or not.

  • vinaire  On June 4, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    Cash value

    (Wikipedia) From the introduction to William James’s Pragmatism by Bruce Kuklick, p.xiv.

    James went on to apply the pragmatic method to the epistemological problem of truth. He would seek the meaning of ‘true’ by examining how the idea functioned in our lives. A belief was true, he said, if it worked for all of us, and guided us expeditiously through our semihospitable world. James was anxious to uncover what true beliefs amounted to in human life, what their “cash value” was, what consequences they led to. A belief was not a mental entity which somehow mysteriously corresponded to an external reality if the belief were true. Beliefs were ways of acting with reference to a precarious environment, and to say they were true was to say they guided us satisfactorily in this environment. In this sense the pragmatic theory of truth applied Darwinian ideas in philosophy; it made survival the test of intellectual as well as biological fitness. If what was true was what worked, we can scientifically investigate religion’s claim to truth in the same manner. The enduring quality of religious beliefs throughout recorded history and in all cultures gave indirect support for the view that such beliefs worked. James also argued directly that such beliefs were satisfying—they enabled us to lead fuller, richer lives and were more viable than their alternatives. Religious beliefs were expedient in human existence, just as scientific beliefs were.

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    James is using a self-centric frame of reference to determine the “truth value” of a belief. Though he is averaging the “truth value” by considering a large number of selves, the approach is still self-centric.

    The appropriate “truth value” is determined from a reality-centric approach of mindfulness that involves no self-generated opinion. It simply involves observation of the degree to which a belief is consistent within the wider reality. By removing such inconsistencies the human existence can be improved.
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  • vinaire  On June 4, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    Will to believe doctrine

    (Wikipedia) From main article: The Will to Believe

    In William James’s lecture of 1896 titled “The Will to Believe,” James defends the right to violate the principle of evidentialism in order to justify hypothesis venturing. This idea foresaw the demise of evidentialism in the 20th century and sought to ground justified belief in an unwavering principle that would prove more beneficial. Through his philosophy of pragmatism William James justifies religious beliefs by using the results of his hypothetical venturing as evidence to support the hypothesis’ truth. Therefore, this doctrine allows one to assume belief in a god and prove its existence by what the belief brings to one’s life.

    [NOTE: Evidentialism is a theory of justification according to which the justification of a belief depends solely on the evidence for it.]

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    James is using the hypothesis of pragmatism to justify a belief. This hypothesis stresses practical consequences as constituting the essential criterion in determining meaning, truth, or value. However, this criterion is limited when used from a self-centric viewpoint.

    Different cultures may judge “practical consequences” differently based on their circumstances. A reality-centric approach may provide a practical criterion that is broader than the self-centric considerations of one’s culture. In a reality-centric view the “gods” of different cultures are not in conflict with each other.

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  • vinaire  On June 4, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Free Will

    (Wikipedia) In The Will to Believe, James simply asserted that his will was free. As his first act of freedom, he said, he chose to believe his will was free. He was encouraged to do this by reading Charles Renouvier, whose work convinced James to convert from monism to pluralism. In his diary entry of April 30, 1870, James wrote,

    I think that yesterday was a crisis in my life. I finished the first part of Renouvier’s second Essais and see no reason why his definition of free will—”the sustaining of a thought because I choose to when I might have other thoughts”—need be the definition of an illusion. At any rate, I will assume for the present—until next year—that it is no illusion. My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.


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    Will is a product of self. Self is bound by its structure of beliefs. Therefore, there is no free will even when one asserts his will to be free.

    The reality of a body-centric person is being filtered through the belief that he is a body. He is not aware of this belief or filter. Thus, he is not aware how his “free will” is being limited. One day he discovers this limitation through an “out-of-body” experience. He suddenly gains a lot more “free will.”

    The reality of a self-centric person is being filtered through a narrow set of communal and cultural ideas. He is not aware of this filter because he has not been exposed broadly to other communities and cultures. One day he gets the opportunity to really get exposed to another culture through an open interaction and his eyes open to new realities. This could keep happenning over a period of time through similar education. He self-centric filter starts to reduce. He then gains more “free will” as a result. The person then starts to get increasingly reality-centric. His free will expands as a result.

    The “free will” is then restricted by the beliefs that are filtering one’s reality. As one becomes aware of these beliefs and no longer uses them as a filter, his free will increases.

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    • vinaire  On June 4, 2014 at 1:34 PM

      FREE WILL basically boils down to whether a person is free to make a choice under given circumstances. If a person is restricted by his beliefs then does he have a free will?

      Members of Scientology’s Sea Org tend to stay in the Sea Org in spite of being treated very badly in that organization. Do they really have a free will to leave?

      If they are constrained to stay in the Sea Org by their fears of the outside world, and by their beliefs in ultimately getting freedom through Scientology, then do they have a free will to leave?

      In such cases, free will to leave Sea Org shall require going against, or giving up, certain beliefs. If a person is unable to do so, does he have a free will?

    • vinaire  On June 4, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      Looks like a person’s free will is constrained by
      (1) One’s own beliefs
      (2) Justice considerations imposed by others
      (3) Ethical considerations held by oneself
      (4) Lack of education and misinformation

      All the four factors above can be manipulated from outside.

      • Chris Thompson  On June 4, 2014 at 5:16 PM

        Not only constrained but inspired by belief. We are not very far along on this one yet! 🙂

        • vinaire  On June 4, 2014 at 5:59 PM

          It seems that neither free will nor determinism exist the way they are defined with absolutism. Both are dud terms.

          All we have is a matrix of considerations interacting with each other resulting in this vector here and that vector there.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 4, 2014 at 9:47 PM

          Yes, that is the way I see it. These two words have their consistency within their particular frames of reference – context such as choose behind door #1 or door #2, and determinism the same. We are getting close to needing better language, as soon as we understand what we are trying to describe. You’ve stated this blended and diffused idea of free will v determinism very well.

      • Chris Thompson  On June 7, 2014 at 7:43 PM

        …and (5) Physics. (largest reason)

        • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 7:53 PM

          That is true. How can I miss that!

        • Chris Thompson  On June 9, 2014 at 4:17 PM

          I’m thinking it has to do with concentrating on self-centric thoughts and one’s attention is turned inward so one doesn’t see outward, or reality-centric things, like everything! hahaha

    • vinaire  On June 4, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      Other factors could be
      (5) Lack of experience to make a decision (being a minor)
      (6) Cultural factors that one grew up with
      (7) Communal factors
      (8) Mental capacity (mental development, insanity)

    • vinaire  On June 4, 2014 at 3:02 PM

      Looks like a person is defined by certain rights and duties. Normally, it is a human being (natural person). Law extends this definition to legal entities made up of a group of human beings (artificial person or juristic person). Can the definition of a person be extended to a robot operating on artificial intelligence?

      • Chris Thompson  On June 7, 2014 at 7:40 PM

        “Can the definition of a person be extended to a robot operating on artificial intelligence?” Not yet. It’s taken over 400 years in America to extend this legal definition to the Negro. This question is entertainingly explored in the movie, “I, Robot.” (A must see, for anyone who hasn’t.)

    • Chris Thompson  On June 7, 2014 at 7:52 PM

      Freewill seems to exist within a narrow band of thought frequency but this narrow spectrum of thought comprises an important proportion of human bandwidth.

      • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 8:01 PM

        Free will is actually the freedom to assess and evaluate the situation. It is bringing into awareness, with its correct importance factor, what is already out there.

        Thus, the free will is the ability to see through the filters.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 8, 2014 at 6:26 AM

          Does freewill exist within the spectrum of thought?

        • vinaire  On June 8, 2014 at 6:38 AM

          Freewill is thought. Like a fractal it exists throughout the spectrum of thought.

  • vinaire  On June 4, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    (Wikipedia) In 1884 James set the terms for all future discussions of determinism and compatibilism in the free will debates with his lecture to Harvard Divinity School students published as “The Dilemma of Determinism.” In this talk he defined the common terms “hard determinism” and “soft determinism” (now more commonly called “compatibilism”).

    “Old-fashioned determinism was what we may call hard determinism. It did not shrink from such words as fatality, bondage of the will, necessitation, and the like. Nowadays, we have a soft determinism which abhors harsh words, and, repudiating fatality, necessity, and even predetermination, says that its real name is freedom; for freedom is only necessity understood, and bondage to the highest is identical with true freedom.”

    James called compatibilism a “quagmire of evasion,” just as the ideas of Thomas Hobbes and David Hume that free will was simply freedom from external coercion were called a “wretched subterfuge” by Immanuel Kant.
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    (Wikipedia) Determinism is the philosophical movement that for every event, including human action, exist conditions that could cause no other event. Free will is the ability of agents to make choices unconstrained by certain factors. Incompatibilists think that determinism is at odds with free will, whereas compatibilists think the two can coexist. People who have moral responsibility for an action are called moral agents. Agents are capable of reflecting on their situation, forming intentions about how they will act, and then carrying out that action.

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    The trouble with words like free will and determinism is that they are constructed with short-sighted absolutism. They do not apply to reality.

    Free Will and Determinism are not something black and white. There seems to a gradient between them. As choices are made and kept, they act as constraints for subsequent choices. As more choices are made and kept, greater constraints come about and they leave lesser room to maneuver for future choices.

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    • Chris Thompson  On June 7, 2014 at 7:33 PM

      “(Wikipedia) Determinism is the philosophical movement that for every event, including human action, exist conditions that could cause no other event. ” I believe in this precisely as stated. What I also believe is that human understanding of inception is so very rudimentary as to be laughable! 🙂 In fact I will. Hahahahaha! 🙂 I believe the universe to be so complicated as to defy prediction and to be so complicated as to produce the abstract idea of randomness.

  • vinaire  On June 4, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    (Wikipedia) James described chance as neither hard nor soft determinism, but “indeterminism”. He said

    “The stronghold of the determinist argument is the antipathy to the idea of chance…This notion of alternative possibility, this admission that any one of several things may come to pass is, after all, only a roundabout name for chance.”

    James asked the students to consider his choice for walking home from Lowell Lecture Hall after his walk.

    “What is meant by saying that my choice of which way to walk home after the lecture is ambiguous and matter of chance?…It means that both Divinity Avenue and Oxford Street are called but only one, and that one either one, shall be chosen.”

    With this simple example, James was the first thinker to enunciate clearly a two-stage decision process (others include Henri Poincaré, Arthur Holly Compton, Karl Popper), with chance in a present time of random alternatives, leading to a choice which grants consent to one possibility and transforms an equivocal ambiguous future into an unalterable and simple past. There is a temporal sequence of undetermined alternative possibilities followed by also undetermined choices.

    James’ two-stage model effectively separates chance (undetermined alternative possibilities) from choice (the free action of the individual, on which randomness has no effect).
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    This is a good and obvious example, which is interpreted from a self-centric viewpoint. When looked at from a reality-centric viewpoint, self is looked at as part of the reality. One simply sees a matrix of consideration vectors interacting with each other as the time flows. The cause-effect relationships are hard to determine with infinity of interactions going on. The vectors just come to be that way on a dynamic basis. The appearances at the macro level, however, may be different.

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    • Chris Thompson  On June 7, 2014 at 7:19 PM

      (Wikipedia) James described chance as neither hard nor soft determinism, but “indeterminism”. He said” I like this indeterminism. It is the atheism of determinism.

  • vinaire  On June 4, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    Philosophy of religion

    (Wikipedia) James did important work in philosophy of religion. In his Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh he provided a wide-ranging account of The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) and interpreted them according to his pragmatic leanings. Some of the important claims he makes in this regard:

    • Religious genius (experience) should be the primary topic in the study of religion, rather than religious institutions—since institutions are merely the social descendant of genius.

    • The intense, even pathological varieties of experience (religious or otherwise) should be sought by psychologists, because they represent the closest thing to a microscope of the mind—that is, they show us in drastically enlarged form the normal processes of things.

    • In order to usefully interpret the realm of common, shared experience and history, we must each make certain “over-beliefs” in things which, while they cannot be proven on the basis of experience, help us to live fuller and better lives.

    The investigation of mystical experience was constant throughout the life of James, leading him to experiment with chloral hydrate (1870), amyl nitrite (1875), nitrous oxide (1882), and even peyote (1896). James claimed that it was only when he was under the influence of nitrous oxide that he was able to understand Hegel. He concluded that while the revelations of the mystic hold true, they hold true only for the mystic; for others, they are certainly ideas to be considered, but can hold no claim to truth without personal experience of such.

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    Religions are outgrowth of certain type of experiences, which should be studied as such. These kind of experiences can be intense and pathological. They can reveal how the mind works. Ideas when actually experienced take a different quality.

    This seems to be a very intersting avenue to explore.
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  • vinaire  On June 4, 2014 at 8:25 PM

    Instincts

    (Wikipedia) Like Sigmund Freud, James was influenced by Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. At the core of James’ theory of psychology, as defined in Principles of Psychology (1890), was a system of “instincts.” James wrote that humans had many instincts, even more than other animals. These instincts, he said, could be overridden by experience and by each other, as many of the instincts were actually in conflict with each other. In the 1920s, however, psychology turned away from evolutionary theory and embraced radical behaviorism.

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    Instinct is a natural or innate impulse expressed as some pattern of activity or tendency to action. It may be described in terms of vectors associated with the physical and mental forces or energies that make up an organism. Instinct vectors may interact with experience vectors and undergo transformations.
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  • vinaire  On June 5, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    Theory of emotion

    (Wikipedia) James is one of the two namesakes of the James–Lange theory of emotion, which he formulated independently of Carl Lange in the 1880s. The theory holds that emotion is the mind’s perception of physiological conditions that result from some stimulus. In James’s oft-cited example, it is not that we see a bear, fear it, and run; we see a bear and run; consequently, we fear the bear. Our mind’s perception of the higher adrenaline level, heartbeat, etc. is the emotion.

    This way of thinking about emotion has great consequences for the philosophy of aesthetics. Here is a passage from his great work, Principles of Psychology that spells out those consequences:

    [W]e must immediately insist that aesthetic emotion, pure and simple, the pleasure given us by certain lines and masses, and combinations of colors and sounds, is an absolutely sensational experience, an optical or auricular feeling that is primary, and not due to the repercussion backwards of other sensations elsewhere consecutively aroused.

    To this simple primary and immediate pleasure in certain pure sensations and harmonious combinations of them, there may, it is true, be added secondary pleasures; and in the practical enjoyment of works of art by the masses of mankind these secondary pleasures play a great part.

    The more classic one’s taste is, however, the less relatively important are the secondary pleasures felt to be, in comparison with those of the primary sensation as it comes in. Classicism and romanticism have their battles over this point.

    Complex suggestiveness, the awakening of vistas of memory and association, and the stirring of our flesh with picturesque mystery and gloom, make a work of art romantic.The classic taste brands these effects as coarse and tawdry, and prefers the naked beauty of the optical and auditory sensations, unadorned with frippery or foliage.

    To the romantic mind, on the contrary, the immediate beauty of these sensations seems dry and thin. I am of course not discussing which view is right, but only showing that the discrimination between the primary feeling of beauty, as a pure incoming sensible quality, and the secondary emotions which are grafted thereupon, is one that must be made.


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    James is emphasizing that it is the perception itself, which provides the primary emotion. There is no separation between the two. Primary emotion is the immediate reaction that accompanies the perception. Harmonics may then arise as repercussions from this perception. These harmonics are then felt and they linger as secondary emotion.

    I am now wondering if sexual sensation qualifies as a primary emotion or secondary.

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    • vinaire  On June 5, 2014 at 9:51 AM

      It seems that sexual sensation as primary emotion has a unique quality that is not felt very often. It is something like love at the first sight.

      There are secondary emotions that may be termed ‘sexual’ but those are very different.

  • vinaire  On June 5, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    William James’ bear

    (Wikipedia) From Joseph LeDoux’s description of William James’s Emotion

    Why do we run away if we notice that we are in danger? Because we are afraid of what will happen if we don’t. This obvious answer to a seemingly trivial question has been the central concern of a century-old debate about the nature of our emotions.

    It all began in 1884 when William James published an article titled “What Is an Emotion?” The article appeared in a philosophy journal called Mind, as there were no psychology journals yet. It was important, not because it definitively answered the question it raised, but because of the way in which James phrased his response. He conceived of an emotion in terms of a sequence of events that starts with the occurrence of an arousing stimulus {the sympathetic nervous system or the parasympathetic nervous system}; and ends with a passionate feeling, a conscious emotional experience. A major goal of emotion research is still to elucidate this stimulus-to-feeling sequence—to figure out what processes come between the stimulus and the feeling.

    James set out to answer his question by asking another: do we run from a bear because we are afraid or are we afraid because we run? He proposed that the obvious answer, that we run because we are afraid, was wrong, and instead argued that we are afraid because we run:

    Our natural way of thinking about… emotions is that the mental perception of some fact excites the mental affection called emotion, and that this latter state of mind gives rise to the bodily expression. My thesis on the contrary is that the bodily changes follow directly the PERCEPTION of the exciting fact, and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion (called ‘feeling’ by Damasio).

    The essence of James’s proposal was simple. It was premised on the fact that emotions are often accompanied by bodily responses (racing heart, tight stomach, sweaty palms, tense muscles, and so on; sympathetic nervous system) and that we can sense what is going on inside our body much the same as we can sense what is going on in the outside world. According to James, emotions feel different from other states of mind because they have these bodily responses that give rise to internal sensations, and different emotions feel different from one another because they are accompanied by different bodily responses and sensations. For example, when we see James’s bear, we run away. During this act of escape, the body goes through a physiological upheaval: blood pressure rises, heart rate increases, pupils dilate, palms sweat, muscles contract in certain ways (evolutionary, innate defense mechanisms). Other kinds of emotional situations will result in different bodily upheavals. In each case, the physiological responses return to the brain in the form of bodily sensations, and the unique pattern of sensory feedback gives each emotion its unique quality. Fear feels different from anger or love because it has a different physiological signature {the parasympathetic nervous system for love}. The mental aspect of emotion, the feeling, is a slave to its physiology, not vice versa: we do not tremble because we are afraid or cry because we feel sad; we are afraid because we tremble and are sad because we cry.

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    It is the premise of KHTK that metaphysical factors cannot be separated from physical factors. They occur together. For example, spiritual and physical are two different aspects of the same universal phenomena. If there is a God then it is part of the universe. God does not stand on its own separate from the universe.

    The same premise applies to emotion. The primary emotion cannot be separated from the primary perception. It is a part of the perception. Perception is the immediate response at any moment to what is there. Secondary reactions and emotions may then follow.

    However, I would not give precedence to physiology over emotion as James does. To me they are two different aspect of the same reaction. There is primary physiological and emotional response; and then there are secondary physiological and emotional reactions and repercussions.

    Bringing primary emotions into focus at all time gives a lovely charm to living.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 6, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    Philosophy of history

    (Wikipedia) One of the long-standing schisms in the philosophy of history concerns the role of individuals in social change.

    One faction sees individuals (as seen in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and Thomas Carlyle’s The French Revolution, A History) as the motive power of history, and the broader society as the page on which they write their acts. The other sees society as moving according to holistic principles or laws, and sees individuals as its more-or-less willing pawns. In 1880, James waded into this controversy with “Great Men, Great Thoughts, and the Environment,” an essay published in the Atlantic Monthly. He took Carlyle’s side, but without Carlyle’s one-sided emphasis on the political/military sphere, upon heroes as the founders or overthrowers of states and empires.

    .

    I would take the middle position. I see the society moving according to holistic principles or laws, but I do not see individuals as willing pawns. The individuals are part of the forces and their interactions that express themselves in the movement of the society.
    .

  • vinaire  On June 6, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    (Wikipedia) A philosopher, according to James, must accept geniuses as a given entity the same way as a biologist accepts as an entity Darwin’s ‘spontaneous variations.’ The role of an individual will depend on the degree of its conformity with the social environment, epoch, moment, etc.

    James introduces a notion of receptivities of the moment. The societies’ mutations from generation to generation are determined (directly or indirectly) mainly by the acts or examples of individuals whose genius was so adapted to the receptivities of the moment or whose accidental position of authority was so critical that they became ferments, initiators of movements, setters of precedent or fashion, centers of corruption, or destroyers of other persons, whose gifts, had they had free play, would have led society in another direction.

    .

    Individuals who influence the movement of the society are themselves part of that movement. Their formation is influenced by the movement already in progress in the society. Individuals are like a resonance that develops with the interaction of forces in that movement.
    .

  • vinaire  On June 6, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    View on spiritualism and associationism

    (Wikipedia) James studied closely the schools of thought known as associationism and spiritualism. The view of an associationist is that each experience that one has leads to another, creating a chain of events. The association does not tie together two ideas, but rather physical objects. This association occurs on an atomic level. Small physical changes occur in the brain which eventually form complex ideas or associations. Thoughts are formed as these complex ideas work together and lead to new experiences. Isaac Newton and David Hartley both were precursors to this school of thought, proposing such ideas as “physical vibrations in the brain, spinal cord, and nerves are the basis of all sensations, all ideas, and all motions…” James disagreed with associationism in that he believed it to be too simple. He referred to associationism as “psychology without a soul” because there is nothing from within creating ideas; they just arise by associating objects with one another.

    .

    In KHTK theory the ideas and objects exist intertwined with each other and not in isolation from each other. Awareness is a pattern that is expressed through electromagnetic phenomenon. As the electromagnetic phenomenon condenses to form atoms and molecules, the awareness condenses along with it to form thoughts at atomic amd molecular levels. Associations are formed as a network rather than in terms of a simple linear progression. There are experiences that interact with other experiences to set up the conditions for new experiences.

    Thoughts are formed through such associations through the brain/mind phenomenon and lead to new experiences. The soul is itself a phenomenon generated through such associations that span a spectrum of frequencies that is infinite in proportion. The basic postulates of KHTK theory are available at KHTK Postulates for Metaphysics – Part 1

    .

  • vinaire  On June 6, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    (Wikipedia) On the other hand, a spiritualist believes that mental events are attributed to the soul. Whereas in associationism, ideas and behaviors are separate, in spiritualism, they are connected. Spiritualism encompasses the term innatism, which suggests that ideas cause behavior. Ideas of past behavior influence the way a person will act in the future; these ideas are all tied together by the soul. Therefore, an inner soul causes one to have a thought, which leads them to perform a behavior, and memory of past behaviors determine how one will act in the future.

    .

    The KHTK theory neatly combines associationism and spiritualism together. The source of the infinite spectrum of frequencies is unknowable as explained in KHTK postulates. These frequencies have the property of awareness expressed through the electromagnetic phenomenon. With increasing frequencies both awareness and electromagnetic phenomenon gains more complex forms that ultimately appear as ideas and objects. The ideas are innate to objects and are expressed as their properties. As different ideas and objects associate and network together, new ideas and objects are created.

    Thus, ideas at the level of basic atoms and molecules are essentially their properties. There is an awareness vector that is innate to the object. This is its “center of awareness” which expresses the resultant of the awareness vectors of all the atoms and molecules that make up that object. This concept is similar to the concept of “center of mass” which expresses the resultant of the mass vectors of all the atoms and molecules that make up that object. The “soul” of an object may be viewed through its “center of awareness” the way mass of an object is viewed through its “center of mass.”

    .

    • Chris Thompson  On June 7, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      Possibly “source” is a macro concept only. Possibly in QM there is not an equivalent.

      I am thinking of this in terms of abstraction such as when Korzibsky says, “we see a disk where there is no disk.” In QM, we try to talk about something like a photon as a packet. At the macro, packet is meaningful. But possibly “we are seeing ‘packet’ where there is no packet.”

      This is consistent with Feynman’s teaching that QM cannot be understood as an analogy. He says that QM is “not like” anything else.

      Possibly we are seeing Source where there is no source. “And so it goes with God.”

      • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 10:53 AM

        What came out of the above subject clearing was that the awareness of an object is equivalent to its properties. A ball is aware of itself as a ball. A body is aware of itself as a body. An inanimate object is aware of itself as an inanimate object. An animated organism is aware of itself as an animated organism.

        When we are aware of our surroundings, we are actually a larger object aware of “itself”. The self would be an object made up of body and its neural network of thoughts, which is aware of itself.

        So, there is a macro view of the whole, and there is the micro view of the parts. So there are various levels of awareness.

        A “source” would be a macro view.

        .

      • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 10:57 AM

        Considering something a “source” would simply be a consideration carried by the self, which may have nothing to do with the properties of the object, which is being considered the “source”.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 7, 2014 at 3:30 PM

          What I mean is an ok term, it’s just never more than a relative term like the number one of a sequence.

          A mother is the source of a baby in a macro sense, if we do not look deeper. If we look further, we see a zygote is the source of a baby, until we look deeper.

          If we continue to look, it seems we can always find a relative source and a yet deeper source, but never an ultimate source.

          I’m only saying that the notion of source may not be physically useful for understanding.

        • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 4:00 PM

          Hubbard had a Power Process for “Source”.

          https://vinaire.me/2013/02/26/source-a-scientology-power-process/

          .

        • Chris Thompson  On June 7, 2014 at 5:17 PM

          Right! I forgot about this.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 7, 2014 at 5:07 PM

          Aside from relative descriptions of things such as geography (source of a river), etc., Is there any time that the consideration of source makes a significant contribution to understanding the world?

        • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 5:12 PM

          I see considerations as part of a network or matrix. So, one may find sequences or prograssions of considerations from one point to some other point. But there would not be an absolute starting point or “source” of a particular consideration.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 7, 2014 at 5:22 PM

          Yes very good. I see that I can spot moments when considerations erupt and come into being, however, the underlying and ongoing processes are always there.

  • vinaire  On June 6, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    (Wikipedia) These two schools of thought are very different, and yet James had a strong opinion about the two. He was, by nature, a pragmatist and therefore believed that one should use whatever parts of theories make the most sense and can be proven. Therefore, he recommended breaking apart spiritualism and associationism and using the parts of them that make the most sense. James believed that each person has a soul, which exists in a spiritual universe, and leads a person to perform the behaviors they do in the physical world. James was influenced by Emmanuel Swedenborg, who first introduced him to this idea. James states that, although it does appear that humans use associations to move from one event to the next, this cannot be done without this soul tying everything together. For, after an association has been made, it is the person who decides which part of it to focus on, and therefore determines in which direction following associations will lead. Associationism is too simple in that it does not account for decision-making of future behaviors, and memory of what worked well and what did not. Spiritualism, however, does not demonstrate actual physical representations for how associations occur. James therefore chose to combine the views of spiritualism and associationism to create his own way of thinking that he believed to make the most sense.

    .

    James saw some truth in both associationism and spiritualism. He was on the right track but he was constrained by a self-centric filter. The self-centric filter sees soul as an “uncaused cause,” as the final decision maker above and beyond the associations. The soul is believed to belong to a spiritual universe that is separate and animates the physical universe.

    But associations go much deeper than the external physical appearance. They go deep into the internal structure of the mind. They go even deeper to reveal the spiritual structure of the soul. Is there a limit to how deep these associations may go?

    Not really… one can indeed go deeper than the depths our past assumptions have limited us to. KHTK postulates reveal that.

    https://vinaire.me/2014/03/06/khtk-postulates-for-metaphysics-part-1/

    .

  • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 8:07 AM

    (Wikipedia) James was a founding member and vice president of the American Society for Psychical Research. The lending of his name made Leonora Piper a famous medium. In 1885, the year after the death of his young son, James had his first sitting with Piper at the suggestion of his mother-in-law. James was soon convinced that Piper knew things she could only have discovered by supernatural means. He expressed his belief in Piper by saying, “If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, it is enough if you prove that one crow is white. My white crow is Mrs. Piper.” However, James did not believe that Piper was in contact with spirits. After evaluating sixty-nine reports of Piper’s mediumship he considered the hypothesis of telepathy as well as Piper obtaining information about her sitters by natural means such as her memory recalling information. According to James the “spirit-control” hypothesis of her mediumship was incoherent, irrelevant and in cases demonstrably false.
    .
    (Wikipedia) Most trance mediums remain conscious during a communication period, wherein a spirit uses the medium’s mind to communicate. The spirit or spirits using the medium’s mind influences the mind with the thoughts being conveyed. The medium allows the ego to step aside for the message to be delivered. At the same time, one has awareness of the thoughts coming through and may even influence the message with one’s own bias.

    .

    Here is the Wikipedia article on Leonora Piper. She was a medium for the spirits to communicate.

    A spirit is essentially a “center of awareness” generated by a confluence of certain thought or awareness vectors.

    The medium has either read about, or is familiar with the personalities whose spirits it is supposedly channeling. A channeled spirit seems to be some familiarity coalesced in the medium’s mind as a “center of awareness.” The utterances of a medium are most likely coming from such a center that is manifested under trance as something separate from medium’s own center.

    A channeled spirit is, therefore, a “self-like filter.”

    The medium accessing certain knowledge without any known means is another issue. This is where James considered the concept of telepathy.

    .

    • Chris Thompson  On June 7, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      These are good examples of mindful subject clearing. Maybe this is the essence of critical thinking?

      • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 10:12 AM

        Mindful subject clearing focuses on inconsistencies and helps one get better clarity.

  • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    (Wikipedia) James held séances with Piper and was impressed by some of the details he was given, however, according to Massimo Polidoro a maid in the household of James was friendly with a maid in Piper’s house and this may of been a source of information that Piper used for private details about James. Bibliographers Frederick Burkhardt and Fredson Bowers who compiled the works of James wrote “It is thus possible that Mrs. Piper’s knowledge of the James family was acquired from the gossip of servants and that the whole mystery rests on the failure of the people upstairs to realize that servants [downstairs] also have ears.”

    .

    Apparently, a clear evidence of telepathy still needs to be established.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Jamesian theory of self

    Material self
    (Wikipedia) The material self consists of things that belong to us or that we belong to. Things like family, clothes, our body, and money are some of what makes up our material selves. For James, the core of the material self was the body. Second to the body, a persons clothes were important to the Material Self as well. James believed that people’s clothes were a way that they expressed who they were, or a way to show status, thus contributing to the formation of self. Money and family are also part of the material self. James felt that if we lost a family member, a part of who we are was gone as well. Money was a part of the material self in the same way. If at one point we had a lot of money then lost it, who we are as a person would change as well.

    .

    That is an interesting definition. The core of the material self is the body. Other ideas connected to this material self are body’s associations, such as, the associations with clothes, family, affluence (money) etc. Body and its associations project an image to others.

    A person who is too focused on material self my be called body-centric.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    Social self
    (Wikipedia) Our social selves are who we are in a given social situation. For James, people change how they act depending on the social situation that they are in. James believed that people had as many social selves as they did social situations they participated in. For example, a person may act in a different way at work when compared to how that same person may act when they are out with a group of friends. James also believed that in a given social group, an individual’s social self may be divided even further. An example of this would be, in the social context of an individuals work environment, the difference in behavior when that individual is interacting with their boss versus their behavior when interacting with a fellow co-worker.

    .

    This is more like a ‘reactive self’ that is formed in reaction to its social context. It is more like an outside shell of the overall self. It is a reaction but part of it is a ‘PR self’, which is how it wants to be perceived.

    Too much of a focus on this self would be part of being body-centric.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    Spiritual self
    (Wikipedia) For James the spiritual self was who we are at our core. The spiritual self is more concrete or permanent than the other two selves. The spiritual self is our subjective and most intimate self. Aspects of an individual’s spiritual-self include things like their personality, core values, and conscience that do not typically change throughout their lifetime. The spiritual self involves introspection, or looking inward to deeper spiritual, moral, or intellectual questions without the influence of objective thoughts. For James, achieving a high level of understanding of who we are at our core, or understanding our spiritual selves is more rewarding than satisfying the needs of the social and material selves.

    .

    The personality of an individual is an outcome of the considerations he holds. The core values are a set of stable considerations. Conscience is a set of very basic considerations. So, we are essentially a network, or matrix, of considerations, of a multi-dimensional nature. The deeper one goes into self the more concrete or permanent the considerations seem to be. Normally we are not aware of our core considerations, because we simply take them for granted.

    Physical perceptions are considered to be the most objective elements. Mental constructs that are consistent with physical perceptions, and which are also consistent within themselves are also considered objective elements. This is the domain of scientific thought.

    Objectivity may be established within the deeper structure of self by removing inconsistencies wherever they are found to exist. This is how one may establish a high level of understanding of who one is at one’s core. As James said, such an understanding of ourselves is very rewarding and satisfying.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 6:36 PM

    Pure ego
    (Wikipedia) The pure ego is what James refers to as the “I” self. For James, the pure ego is what provides the thread of continuity between our past, present, and future selves. The pure ego’s perception of consistent individual identity arises from a continual stream of consciousness. James believed that the pure ego was similar to what we think of as the soul, or the mind. The pure ego was not a substance and therefore could not be examined by science.

    .

    At any point in time, “I” is the set of considerations that are in focus the most. it is an identification with that set of considerations. It is what one thinks one is.

    “I” may be looked upon as the “center of awareness.” This concept is similar to the concept of “center of mass” for an object. “I” is the weighted resultant of all considerations that make up the self.

    .

    • Chris Thompson  On June 9, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      “James believed that the pure ego was similar to what we think of as the soul, or the mind. The pure ego was not a substance and therefore could not be examined by science.”

      This is like thinking that software has no substance because we cannot take it apart with a screwdriver. Maybe we aren’t quite doing it yet, but it seems reasonable to think we will.

  • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 7:03 PM

    (Wikipedia) William James developed a theory of self that was divided into two main categories. The first was the “Me” self, the second was the “I” self. The “me” self refers to the aspects of someone that come from that persons experiences. James broke the “me” self down into three sections, The Material Self, The Social Self, and The Spiritual Self. For James the “I” self was classified as the thinking self. James linked this self to the soul of a person or what we now think of as the mind. The Pure Ego was the name given to the “I” self.

    .

    I don’t think that there is a clear distinction between a “Me” self and an “I” self. The whole self is like a multi-dimensional matrix of cross-indexed considerations.

    The deeper and stable parts may be called the spiritual and material self, and the most responsive top layer may be regarded as the social self.

    The considerations, which make up the self, have their own awareness vectors with “weighted attention” factors that vary with time. These weighted awareness vectors combine to create a center of awareness called “I.”

    .

    • Chris Thompson  On June 9, 2014 at 4:48 PM

      “I don’t think that there is a clear distinction between a “Me” self and an “I” self. The whole self is like a multi-dimensional matrix of cross-indexed considerations.”

      +1

  • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 8:14 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy) In William James the voice and the speech and the very turn of phrase are American. He pounced eagerly upon such characteristic expressions as “cash-value,” and “results,” and “profits,” in order to bring his thought within the ken of the “man in the street”; he spoke not with the aristocratic reserve of a Santayana or a Henry James, but in a racy vernacular and with a force and directness, which made his philosophy of “pragmatism” and “reserve energy” the mental correlate of the “practical” and “strenuous” Roosevelt. And at the same time he phrased for the common man that “tender-minded” trust in the essentials of the old theology which lives side by side, in the American soul, with the realistic spirit of commerce and finance, and with the tough persistent courage that turned a wilderness into the promised land.

    .

    This is an interesting description of what makes a philosophy very American.

  • vinaire  On June 7, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy) William James was born in New York City in 1842. His father was a Swedenborgian mystic, whose mysticism did no damage to his wit and humor; and the son was not lacking in any of the three. After some seasons in American private schools, William was sent with his brother Henry (one year his junior) to private schools in France. There they fell in with the work of Charcot and other psychopathologists, and took, both of them, a turn to psychology; one of them, to repeat an old phrase, proceeded to write fiction like psychology, while the other wrote psychology like fiction. Henry spent most of his life abroad, and finally became a British citizen. Through his more continuous contact with European culture he acquired a maturity of thought which his brother missed; but William, returning to live in America, felt the stimulation of a nation young in heart and rich in opportunity and hope, and caught so well the spirit of his age and place that he was lifted on the wings of the Zeitgeist to a lonely pinnacle of popularity such as no other American philosopher had ever known.

    He took his M.D. at Harvard in 1870, and taught there from 1872 to his death in 1910, at first anatomy and physiology, and then psychology, and at last philosophy. His greatest achievement was almost his first – “The Principles of Psychology” (1890); a fascinating mixture of anatomy, philosophy and analysis; for in James psychology still drips from the fetal membranes of its mother, metaphysics. Yet the book remains the most instructive, and easily the most absorbing, summary of its subject; something of the subtlety which Henry put into his clauses helped William James to the keenest introspection which psychology had witnessed since the uncanny clarity of David Hume.

    This passion for illuminating analysis was bound to lead James from psychology to philosophy, and at last back to metaphysics itself; he argued (against his own positivist inclinations) that metaphysics is merely an effort to think things out clearly; and he defined philosophy, in his simple and pellucid manner, as “only thinking about things in the most comprehensive possible way.” So, after 1900, his publications were almost all in the field of philosophy. He began with “The Will to Believe” (1897); then, after a masterpiece of psychological interpretation “Varieties of Religious Experience” (1902) he passed on to his famous books on “Pragmatism” (1907), “A Pluralistic Universe” (1909) and “The Meaning of Truth” (1909). A year after his death came “Some Problems of Philosophy” (1911); and later, an important volume of Essays in “Radical Empiricism” (1912). We must begin our study with this last book, because it was in these essays that James formulated most clearly the bases of his philosophy.

    .

    This is a nice description of James general background.
    .

  • vinaire  On June 8, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    PRAGMATISM

    (The Story of Philosophy) The direction of his thought is always to things; and if he begins with psychology it is not as a metaphysician who loves to lose himself in ethereal obscurities, but as a realist to whom thought, however distinct it may be from matter, is essentially a mirror of external and physical reality. And it is a better mirror than some have believed; it perceives and reflects not merely separate things, as Hume supposed, but their relations too; it sees everything in a context; and the context is as immediately given in perception as the shape and touch and odor of the thing. Hence the meaninglessness of Kant’s “problem of knowledge” (how do we put sense and order into our sensations?) the sense and the order, in outline at least, are already there. The old atomistic psychology of the English school, which conceived thought as a series of separate ideas mechanically associated, is a misleading copy of physics and chemistry; thought is not a series, it is a stream, a continuity of perception and feeling, in which ideas are passing nodules like corpuscles in the blood. We have mental “states” (though this is again a misleadingly static term) that correspond to prepositions, verbs, adverbs and conjunctions, as well as “states” that reflect the nouns and pronouns of our speech; we have feelings of for and to and against and because and behind and after as well as of matter and men. It is these “transitive” elements in the flow of thought that constitute the thread of our mental life, and give us some measure of the continuity of things.

    .

    I like the realism and practicality of James philosophy. James made an advance over Kant by pointing out that the relationships among things observed are also part of reality. It is just one more step from there to include the relationship between the observed and observer as part of reality. This latter approach is what is known as mindfulness.

    Thought and considerations are not a series but are part of a multi-dimensional, cross-indexed matrix, or network, providing a continuity of perception and feeling. There are no static mental states, but very dynamic associations among the observers and observeds.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 8, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    (The Story of Philosophy) Consciousness is not an entity, not a thing, but a flux and system of relations; it is a point at which the sequence and relationship of thoughts coincide illuminatingly with the sequence of events and the relationship of things. In such moments it is reality itself, and no mere “phenomenon,” that flashes into thought; for beyond phenomena and “appearances” there is nothing. Nor is there any need of going beyond the experience-process to a soul; the soul is merely the sum of our mental life, as the “Noumenon” is simply the total of all phenomena, and the “Absolute” the web of the relationships of the world.

    .

    The above is beautifully expressed. The key idea is that there is nothing beyond phenomena and “appearances,” and that the soul is merely the sum of our mental life. KHTK expresses this as an inexhaustible multi-dimensional matrix of postulates and considerations at the core of all existence. Souls are nodules of condensed segments within this matrix like the galaxies are in the matrix called space.

    Per the above consciousness pertains to a flux and a system of relations. KHTK expresses this consciousness, or awareness, as the pattern propagating through the matrix of considerations. The outward expression of awareness is similar to electromagnetic disturbance propagating through space.

    There is nothing beyond what is expressed above. This comes closest to conceiving the “Absolute.”

    .

  • vinaire  On June 8, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    It is this same passion for the immediate and actual and real that led James to pragmatism. Brought up in the school of French clarity, he abominated the obscurities and pedantic terminology of German metaphysics; and when Harris and others began to import a moribund Hegelianism into America, James reacted like a quarantine officer who has detected an immigrant infection. He was convinced that both the terms and the problems of German metaphysics were unreal; and he cast about him for some test of meaning which would show, to every candid mind, the emptiness of these abstractions.

    .

    “Pedantic” seems to mean going into unnecessary and formal details on an unclear path without first clarifying the fundamentals. Hegelianism went in the direction of justifying contradictions in complex ways that were unreal.

    James rejected the complexity brought about by unreal abstractions in philosophy, and focused on the simplicity of direct observation in a practical and scientific manner.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 8, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    He found the weapon which he sought when, in 1878, he came upon an essay by Charles Peirce, in the Popular Science Monthly, on “How to Make Our Ideas Clear.” To find the meaning of an idea, said Peirce, we must examine the consequences to which it leads in action; otherwise dispute about it may be without end, and will surely be without fruit. This was a lead which James was glad to follow; he tried the problems and ideas of the old metaphysics by this test, and they fell to pieces at its touch like chemical compounds suddenly shot through with a current of electricity. And such problems as had meaning took on a clearness and a reality as if, in Plato’s famous figure, they had passed out of the shadows of a cave into the brilliance of a sun-lit noon.

    .

    Here is the article that James read. It is worth reading.

    How to Make Our Ideas Clear

    .

    • vinaire  On June 8, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      “It is easy to show that the doctrine that familiar use and abstract distinctness make the perfection of apprehension has its only true place in philosophies which have long been extinct; and it is now time to formulate the method of attaining to a more perfect clearness of thought, such as we see and admire in the thinkers of our own time. ~Peirce”

    • vinaire  On June 8, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      The following is the method recommended in KHTK to bring about clarity:

      Subject Clearing

    • vinaire  On June 8, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      I am now reading this article by Pierce, and shall use it to update the essay on Subject Clearing.

    • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      Logic provides us with the following definitions:

      A clear idea is defined as one which is so apprehended that it will be recognized wherever it is met with, and so that no other will be mistaken for it.

      A distinct idea is defined as one which contains nothing which is not clear.

      The above definitions may be satisfied by mere familiarity with an idea, and precise definition of it in abstract terms, without leading to a clear apprehension of what is there.

    • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 9:03 AM

      Self-consciousness furnishes us with our fundamental truths, and decides what is agreeable to reason. But distinction must be made between an idea seeming clear and really being so.

      An idea must sustain the test of dialectical examination; that it must not only seem clear at the outset, but that discussion must never be able to bring to light points of obscurity connected with it.

    • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      The method of Descartes labored under the difficulty that we may seem to ourselves to have clear apprehensions of ideas which in truth are very hazy.

      It may be acknowledged that the books are right in making familiarity with a notion the first step toward clearness of apprehension, and the defining of it the second. But nothing new can ever be learned by analyzing definitions.

      The machinery of the mind can only transform knowledge, but never originate it, unless it be fed with facts of observation.

      • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 9:26 AM

        Hubbard’s word-clearing falls short of mark because it depends entirely on definitions provided by authority. Word Clearing is not designed to question the definitions themselves in light of new facts of observation.

    • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      Further clarity is resisted by those who think that they know it quite clearly because of their existing richness of ideas and knowledge.

      For an individual there can be no question that a few clear ideas are worth more than many confused ones, but intellectual maturity with regard to clearness is apt to come rather late. This seems an unfortunate arrangement of Nature.

      People love and cherish their ideas; they identify themselves with their ideas; and it is a terrible loss to them to let go of their ideas.

      • Chris Thompson  On June 9, 2014 at 10:48 AM

        “This seems an unfortunate arrangement of Nature.” This is like complaining that one is not born with a university degree. Anthropomorphizing whether God or Nature is self-centric.

        • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 10:57 AM

          Well, here is the whole argument made by Pierce. I may be providing a misleading short cut:

          For an individual, however, there can be no question that a few clear ideas are worth more than many confused ones. A young man would hardly be persuaded to sacrifice the greater part of his thoughts to save the rest; and the muddled head is the least apt to see the necessity of such a sacrifice. Him we can usually only commiserate, as a person with a congenital defect. Time will help him, but intellectual maturity with regard to clearness is apt to come rather late. This seems an unfortunate arrangement of Nature, inasmuch as clearness is of less use to a man settled in life, whose errors have in great measure had their effect, than it would be to one whose path lay before him. It is terrible to see how a single unclear idea, a single formula without meaning, lurking in a young man’s head, will sometimes act like an obstruction of inert matter in an artery, hindering the nutrition of the brain, and condemning its victim to pine away in the fullness of his intellectual vigor and in the midst of intellectual plenty.

          .

        • Chris Thompson  On June 9, 2014 at 12:31 PM

          Eloquent. The old timers were more literary writers than modern philosophers.

        • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 11:03 AM

          I see it as Pierce pointing out a situation for which he is going to look for a resolution.

          Actually, that is what he does in the following section.

    • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 10:37 AM

      The action of thought is excited by the irritation of doubt, and ceases when belief is attained; so that the production of belief is the sole function of thought.

      Here “doubt” may merely be starting of a question, or an indecision; and “belief” may simply be a resolution, or a chosen course of action.

      Feigned hesitancy, whether feigned for mere amusement or with a lofty purpose, plays a great part in the production of scientific inquiry.

      • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 10:38 AM

        It is that “irritation of doubt” which KHTK calls “inconsistency”.

    • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      In a piece of music there are the separate notes, and then there is the tune.

      Similarly, in an observation, there is discrete sensations, and then there is an orderly flow of consciousness.

      Thought is a thread of melody running through the succession of our sensations.

      • Chris Thompson  On June 9, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        Good comment. And we come back around to another question as to the continuity or to the discreteness of things. These two terms seem to be not absolute, but relative notions. Are the differences reality-centric or self-centric concepts?

        • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 12:28 PM

          Can you reword your question for better clarity. Thanks.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 9, 2014 at 10:07 PM

          Given: i. There may not be a discrete particle. ii. Continuous may be a macro and relative term. Possibly continuous pertains when something large is perceiving a lot of something small. Possibly there is an order of magnitude of size difference which must be established before anything appears continuous. iii. How do these two looks at parts, sizes, and ratios pertain to space-time?

          Q: Is this notion of self-centric and reality-centric related to the abstractions of discrete and continuous?

        • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 4:52 AM

          Good question. The only thing that comes to my mind is standing wave.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standing_wave

          Reality-centric would be all-inclusive view. Self-centric would be a more narrow view of one of the outstanding features.

    • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      The sole motive of thought is “idea” and its function is to produce “belief”. However, the action of thinking may incidentally have other results, such as, amusement.

      Thought in action has for its only possible motive the attainment of thought at rest; but this purpose may be voluntarily thwarted for sake of amusement that comes from keeping thought in play.

      .

    • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 12:16 PM

      Let’s then examine the nature of “belief.” It has the following properties:

      (1) It is something that we are aware of;
      (2) It appeases the irritation of doubt;
      (3) It involves the establishment in our nature of a rule of action, or, say for short, a habit.

      Thought comes to rest for a moment when belief is reached, but then the application of belief involves further doubt and further thought.

      At the same time that belief is a stopping-place, it is also a new starting place for thought.

      Belief is only a stage of mental action, an effect upon our nature due to thought, which will influence future thinking.

      .

    • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 1:23 PM

      Two different beliefs may be confused as the same, or the same belief may be seen as different in two separate cases.

      “One singular deception of this sort, which often occurs, is to mistake the sensation produced by our own unclearness of thought for a character of the object we are thinking.”

      KHTK frames this problem in terms of difficult-to-spot filters that distort the view of what is out there.

    • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      “…the whole function of thought is to produce habits of action… To develop its meaning, we have, therefore, simply to determine what habits it produces… What the habit is depends on when and how it causes us to act. As for the when, every stimulus to action is derived from perception; as for the how, every purpose of action is to produce some sensible result.”

      Thus, clarity of thought comes down to what is tangible and conceivably practical.

    • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      Let’s apply this principle to the doctrine of transubstantiation, which is taken literally by Catholics.

      “… and we can consequently mean nothing by wine but what has certain effects, direct or indirect, upon our senses; and to talk of something as having all the sensible characters of wine, yet being in reality blood, is senseless jargon…

      “I only desire to point out how impossible it is that we should have an idea in our minds which relates to anything but conceived sensible effects of things.”

      “It appears, then, that the rule for attaining the third grade of clearness of apprehension is as follows:
      Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object.”

      .

      If we are made to believe that wine is actually blood in some special circumstance, while the properties of wine do not change to properties of blood, then this is a deception and akin to brainwashing.

      • vinaire  On June 9, 2014 at 2:52 PM

        Thus, clarity of thought boils down to “seeing things as they are”, which is mindfulness.

        However, we still need to look at how mindfulness leads to the recognition of the elements of filter.

      • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 5:49 AM

        Seeing things as they are = Practical bearings!
        ……………………………………= Its purpose?
        ……………………………………= Reason for its being?
        ……………………………………= Whole of its conception

    • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 6:12 AM

      The whole conception of a quality lies in its conceived effects.

      For example, conception of ‘hard’ lies in conceiving that it will not be scratched by many other substances.

    • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 6:25 AM

      All questions regarding the conception of something must be regarded with care. They may raise doubts and, thus, mental activity.

      The question of what would occur under circumstances which do not actually arise is not a question of fact, but only of the most perspicuous arrangement of them… it arranges them so as to exhibit what is particularly pertinent to a question.

      Contradictory results would follow from a hypothesis which is consequently judged to be false.

      • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 7:01 AM

        The concept of Force came about from the refinement of the concept of Cause.

        To understand it clearly, we must first ask, “What is the immediate use of thinking about force?” The answer is, that we thus account for changes of motion.

        Furthermore, change of motion never takes place abruptly; if its direction is changed, it is always through a curve without angles; if its velocity alters, it is by degrees.

        This fact is that if the actual changes of motion which the different particles of bodies experience are each resolved in its appropriate way, each component acceleration is precisely such as is prescribed by a certain law of Nature.

        According to this law, bodies, in the relative positions which the bodies in question actually have at the moment, always receive certain accelerations, which, being compounded by geometrical addition, give the acceleration which the body actually experiences.

        This is the only fact which the idea of force represents, and whoever will take the trouble clearly to apprehend what this fact is, perfectly comprehends what force is.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 12:53 AM

          “The concept of Force came about from the refinement of the concept of Cause.”

          Force, cause, effect, etc., can be understood to have a zero-sum definition.

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 6:08 AM

          Reality (observed, filter, observer) is a zero-sum definition too. 🙂
          .

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 9:16 AM

          Zero sum is a good observation. What greater understanding does noticing it bring about?

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 11:45 AM

          No use getting anxious about things. What goes up must come down. Take life in your stride. Logic is ultimately circular. Marildi too will come around. 🙂

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 12:54 AM

          ” . . . if its velocity alters, it is by degrees.”

          . . . discreetly.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 12:58 AM

          Forms of energy

          Type of energy Description

          Kinetic (≥0), that of the motion of a body

          Potential A category comprising many forms in this list

          Mechanical data3=the sum of (usually macroscopic) kinetic and potential energies

          Mechanical wave (≥0), a form of mechanical energy propagated by a material’s oscillations

          Chemical that contained in molecules

          Electric that from electric fields

          Magnetic that from magnetic fields

          Radiant (≥0), that of electromagnetic radiation including light

          Nuclear that of binding nucleons to form the atomic nucleus

          Ionization that of binding an electron to its atom or molecule

          Elastic that of deformation of a material (or its container) exhibiting a restorative force

          Gravitational that from gravitational fields

          Intrinsic, the rest energy (≥0) that equivalent to an object’s rest mass

          Thermal A microscopic, disordered equivalent of mechanical energy

          Heat an amount of thermal energy being transferred (in a given process) in the direction of decreasing temperature

          Mechanical work an amount of energy being transferred in a given process due to displacement in the direction of an applied force

          Some entries in the above list constitute or comprise others in the list. The list is not necessarily complete.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 12:59 AM

          Why do you suppose that the word “gravity” has been left off this list of “forms of energy?”

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 6:58 AM

          Energy is essentially the capacity to bring about motion. A person having a lot of energy has a lot of capcity for motion.

          A gravitational field contains the capacity for motion. and thereflore it contains energy. It comes from mass. Mass is the form generated from condensing the electromagnetic disturbance. This is a phenomenon of very high frequencies, very short wavelengths, extremely short periods and almost no propagation but rotation due to the feature of collapsing on itself. The gravitational energy seems to come from the tendency to collapse other things around it.

          .

      • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 7:21 AM

        There is no other “cause” than the force that is visible in the acceleration of bodies. Yet people believe it to be a mystery.

        There is some vague notion afloat that a question may mean something which the mind cannot conceive.

        When there is hair-splitting quibbling going on, it indicates the presence of some unseen filter that the logic cannot uncover.

        .

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 1:00 AM

          “When there is hair-splitting quibbling going on, it indicates the presence of some unseen filter that the logic cannot uncover.”

          And thus it is the same for paradox.

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 7:00 AM

          Yes, the filter is putting something there that is not there.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 9:33 AM

          The filter is an additional disturbance.

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 11:47 AM

          Each disturbance is another layer of filter.

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 5:05 PM

          What he is saying makes a lot of sense. 🙂

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 5:21 PM

          Well, it kind of harmonizes with what we have revealed in these discussions. “No mind” did not begin with Bruce Lee, but pervades Eastern philosophy and now that you’ve unearthed Will Durant’s work, Western philosophy as well.

    • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      Pierce defines reality as follows:

      “Thus we may define the real as that whose characters are independent of what anybody may think them to be.”

      This would be a special kind of reality. Let’s call it “external or objective reality.”

      In the broadest sense, reality is anything for which awareness exists. A person is aware of the contents of his opinion. evaluation, imagination, dreams, etc. Such awareness may be called “internal or subjective reality.”

      However, the facts that there are thoughts, opinions, evaluations and dreams shall be part of objective reality beacuse these things exist independent of what anybody may think them to be. But their contents shall be part of subjective reality.

      The genre of Fiction that exists as stories shall be part of objective reality. Figments that are product of somebody’s imagination shall be part of subjective reality,

      • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        An idea that earth is at the center of the universe may be popular and agreed upon by all people, but it would still be part of subjective reality, if it is not proven by direct, mindful or scientific observation.

      • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        Thus, agreement is not the test for reality as believed in Scientology.

    • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      (1) Reality, like every other quality, consists in the peculiar sensible effects which things partaking of it produce.

      (2) The only effect which real things have is to cause belief, for all the sensations which they excite emerge into consciousness in the form of beliefs.

      (3) The question therefore is, how is objective reailty distinguished from subjective reality.

      NOTE: Pierce is calling “Objective reality” to be true belief (belief in the real) and “Subjective reality” to be false belief (belief in fiction). I hesitate to use the terms true and false because they are dependent on a self-centric view or opinion. From a reality-centric view, true and false are simply relative.

      • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 1:40 PM

        NOTE: “Objectivity reality” may change as we discover parts of it to be made up of subjective filter.
        .

      • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 5:05 PM

        The question essentially is,

        (1) What is nature of the filter that distorts the reality?

        (2) What is the nature of the reality in absence of the filter?

        .

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 10:58 AM

          “The question essentially is, (1) What is nature of the filter that distorts the reality? (2) What is the nature of the reality in absence of a filter?”

          (1) I am the Nature of the filter which distorts ABSTRACTS reality.

          (2) That is unknowable. We argue for an existence beyond knowable. Everything within our intellect pushes this idea forward. Yet why should we think so? Does thinking so change the smallest bit of the existence that we know? Is there any advantage to thinking about another reality beyond this reality?

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 12:08 PM

          Abstraction and distortion are two very different things. We abstrct three cats, three dogs, three chairs, three tables, three cups, etc, as “three”. It is like finding the common denominator of a number of observations. Abstraction was identified as a key dimension in the KHTK Model of the Universe. Abstraction leads to a deeper appreciation.

          Distortion is throwing more sand on what is there.

      • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 1:10 AM

        Good points.

    • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 6:31 PM

      Reality is essentially what is there, but the personal filters may distort it.

      (1) A person may base reality upon arbitrarily chosen propositions.

      (2) A person may simply hold a strong opinion about reality.

      (3) A person may base his reality upon authority.

      (4) A person’s loyalty to a faith may influence his reality.

      (5) A philosopher may look at what harmonizes with his system.

      (6) A person may simply not want to end a dispute.

      (7) A person may not believe that a consensus on reality could ever be reached.

      • Chris Thompson  On June 10, 2014 at 9:52 PM

        “Reality is essentially what is there, but the personal filters may distort it.”

        It seems to me that reality, what we mean and say when we say reality, it the resolution of our filters. Yes, there is something going on but this dimension that we refer to as reality, being a relative, conditioned, and impermanent abstraction, if not an absolute then we can only ever be aware of our abstractions of the processes which occur around us.

        I do not see a way around this, neither suggest that we need a “way around this.” We come into being gradually and go out of being either gradually or not so gradually and if we are fortunate, we’ve flapped our butterfly wings and left our iteration to continue the recursion and I’m more than ok with that. There is peace in understanding.

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 5:14 AM

          Yes. Filters are part of the reality.
          (1) What is beyond the filters may be called the ultimate reality.
          (2) What we see through the filters could be called reality of the moment.
          (3) We, the observers, are also part of the reality.

          What is not part of the reality, I don’t know. So, it all boils down to understanding the nature of the infinite variations that reality presents, and building a model for this reality.

          This model is coming into focus in terms of a filter separating the observed from the observer. The filter modulates how the observer observes the observed. But when the filter is gone then the observed and observer are gone too. In a sense, the very existence of the observed and the observer depends on the existence of the filter.

          So, this is the wonderful reality made of observed, filter and the observer.
          ..

    • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 6:38 PM

      All the followers of science are animated by a cheerful hope that the processes of investigation, if only pushed far enough, will give one certain solution to each question to which they apply it.

      Different minds may set out with the most antagonistic views, but the progress of investigation carries them by a force outside of themselves to one and the same conclusion.

      This activity of thought by which we are carried, not where we wish, but to a fore-ordained goal, is like the operation of destiny.

      The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate, is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real. That is the way I would explain reality.

      What is this force outside of oneself that carries one forward to a certain conclusion?

      .

      • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 7:42 PM

        Reality would then depend on certain laws. But earlier the very essence of reality was defined as that “whose characters are independent of what anybody may think them to be.”

        In that case, the laws underlying reality shall be basic to even the very reality of self. You and I and each person shall be constructed out of these laws. These laws shall determine what we think of them.

        Our filters shall be formed out these very same laws.

        .

      • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 8:06 PM

        Only an investigation carried far enough may lead to these laws, which, by their very nature, are beyond what anybody may think them to be.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 1:11 AM

          “Only an investigation carried far enough may lead to these laws, which, by their very nature, are beyond what anybody may think them to be.”

          This is one of your best comments today.

      • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 9:07 PM

        “There is no royal road to logic, and really valuable ideas can only be had at the price of close attention. ~ Charles S. Peirce, 1878”

        • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 9:09 PM

          It always gets down to mindfulness. Haha!

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 1:15 AM

          “It always gets down to mindfulness. Haha!”

          Mindfulness seems to suggest adding mental energy at all times so as to not “coast.” Thinking about what one is doing while one is doing it requires mental energy, requires active mental participation in what is going on. This disallowing of inertia to carry ones thoughts along, thus having no particular motion, suggests that mindfulness requires some type of mental motion.

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 7:14 AM

          I do not think so. To me, as one learns to be mindful, the habit just takes over you. It is very peaceful, relaxing and natural. There is no effort required.

          Mindfulness is like finding your equilibrium in the torrent of filter that has been sweeping you off your feet all this time.
          .

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 9:45 AM

          Then how does mindfulness relate to motion?

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 11:50 AM

          Mindfulness seems to simplify motion and ultimately dissolve it.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 4:04 PM

          Interesting. Given that any motion is relative motion. A mind placed alone and hundreds of miles into space un-stimulated by any relative motion such as the Earth, life, circumstances, etc., would necessarily be only self-stimulating/stimulated. Placed ostensibly utterly alone, would entropy increase? And is entropy of mind the same as dissolution of mind?

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 5:15 PM

          There seems to a law here which is yet to be discovered. How did the universe come about in the first place? Would a mind having nothing to stimulate it, create its own stimulation?

          It seems that the most basic desire is to know oneself. Did the Nothingness create somethingness to know itself because it was not happy with being considered nothingness?

          These questions remain to stimulate our minds. Haha!

          .

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 5:25 PM

          hehehe, yeah.

          Something I’ve been noticing is that the mental fatigue that used to accompany these drawn out discussions has abated. Possibly like an athlete in training, our minds are being trained to work more efficiently with less fatigue.

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 7:58 PM

          As you practice mindfulness things start to get effortless.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 5:36 PM

          “There seems to a law here which is yet to be discovered. How did the universe come about in the first place?”

          There is another possibility. In a universe, mathematically without whole ratios, the idea of inception may be a self-centric idea. Think about it: When we look closely, is there any example of inception until we reach the Big Bang? And if the answer is no, why would be extrapolate that the Big Bang provides an absolute beginning?

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM

          Big Bang does not provide the absolute beginning.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 9:17 PM

          Fractals, orders of magnitude, and half-life isotopes provide clues as to the possible concentrations of space-time very near the Big Bang. Scientists become amazed at the “inflation” of the universe during the first second after the Big Bang. Factually and fractally, there can be many many times more space-time left over that needs accounting for before that early moment. The consistency of Newtonian Physics may be more similar to today’s weather than laws when considering the universe at that early moment. I am planning to keep my eyes and mind open.

        • vinaire  On June 12, 2014 at 6:40 AM

          Is the universe expanding? I don’t think so. The universe already expanded to its ultimate limits at DL0 (Disturbance Level 0). Now other things may be going on in the universe. We look at just DL100 or DL500 from a matter-centric view and conclude that the universe is expanding.

          Big Bang could just be an exploding pimple in the fabric of the universe.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 12, 2014 at 8:58 AM

          There is a life’s work (and maybe a reputation) to be made on these few thoughts and statements. I’ve tried to imagine the edge of the universe, there being an edge of space-time, however nothing about myself has been prepared for such a thought experiment and I find my thoughts must turn to the faith of religion to accept it. Therefore, I balk.

          I read another reason for the red-shift of expansion. I don’t know it it is good science. But there it is anyway.

        • vinaire  On June 12, 2014 at 10:57 AM

          There is no edge to the universe, haha, just like there is no edge to a sphere.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 12, 2014 at 8:04 PM

          There goes my square universe theory

        • vinaire  On June 12, 2014 at 9:04 PM

          LOL!

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 5:36 PM

          “It seems that the most basic desire is to know oneself.”

          Why do you say this?

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 8:02 PM

          Well, if there anything more basic I haven’t come across it yet.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 5:38 PM

          “Did the Nothingness create somethingness to know itself because it was not happy with being considered nothingness?”

          That is a self-centric question.

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 8:04 PM

          Maybe that’s how it all started! Haha!

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 11:29 PM

          Maybe! I hadn’t thought of that. I see self v. reality as a matter of vector. This puts you back in Hubbard’s court?

        • vinaire  On June 12, 2014 at 6:53 AM

          Maybe at the start self was all the reality there was.

          Please keep in mind there is nothing absolute. Our conceptualization makes it seem absolute.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 12, 2014 at 9:10 AM

          Maybe the self is physically a node or corresponds to a node of sorts.

        • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 5:39 PM

          “These questions remain to stimulate our minds. Haha!”

          I used to wonder at the condition of the baby Superman when he arrived at Earth in that tiny little capsule that he traveled within all the way from Krypton to Earth. No wonder he seemed a little disturbed.

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 8:06 PM

          He must have been trying to figure himself out.

        • vinaire  On June 10, 2014 at 9:09 PM

          More basic to any logic is mindfulness.

      • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 12:46 AM

        “What is this force outside of oneself that carries one forward to a certain conclusion?”

        The Universe seems to be a seething, writhing, undulating, somewhat orderly, somewhat tangled, infinitely complex, ball of processes. The thoughts of this, force, outside, oneself, forward, certain, and conclusion seem to be abstractions. Do I suspect something of a Greater Power at work? Something “outside?” Of course. I think the reason is that the abstract self as a whole is not the whole universe but a little piece. Of course there are greater powers, greater processes at work — there are entire galaxies in collision at this moment. My human intellect has only awakened to the idea of looking for a moment away from my baser instincts and needs to ponder distance and time. Maybe this is how consciousness awakens. Maybe humanity is evolving toward a more awakened, more sophisticatedly abstract state of being.

        Something that seems sure to me is that, aside from my anthropomorphic sense of self, I really do feel a part of it all and I do feel that my life has value and contributes a bit to the whole of things. That’s a good feeling, a happy feeling.

        • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 6:05 AM

          “That’s a good feeling, a happy feeling.”

          It sure is!

          Through us the universe is waking up. 🙂

  • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    He found the weapon which he sought when, in 1878, he came upon an essay by Charles Peirce, in the Popular Science Monthly, on “How to Make Our Ideas Clear.” To find the meaning of an idea, said Peirce, we must examine the consequences to which it leads in action; otherwise dispute about it may be without end, and will surely be without fruit. This was a lead which James was glad to follow; he tried the problems and ideas of the old metaphysics by this test, and they fell to pieces at its touch like chemical compounds suddenly shot through with a current of electricity. And such problems as had meaning took on a clearness and a reality as if, in Plato’s famous figure, they had passed out of the shadows of a cave into the brilliance of a sun-lit noon.
    .

    From “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” by Charles Peirce:
    Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object.

    .

    This is a very American contribution to Philosophy. This is mindfulness.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    This simple and old-fashioned test led James on to a new definition of truth. Truth had been conceived as an objective relation, as once good and beauty had been; now what if truth, like these, were also relative to human judgment and human needs? “Natural laws” had been taken as “objective” truths, eternal and unchangeable; Spinoza had made them the very substance of his philosophy; and yet what were these truths but formulations of experience, convenient and successful in practice; not copies of an object, but correct calculations of specific consequences? Truth is the “cash-value” of an idea.

    .

    Truth is not something absolute. Truth is also relative to human judgment and human needs. Truth is the “cash-value” of an idea.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    The true … is only the expedient in the way of our thinking, just as “the right” is only the expedient in the way of our behaving. Expedient is almost any fashion; and expedient in the long run and on the whole, of course; for what meets expediently all the experiences in sight won’t necessarily meet all further experiences equally satisfactorily. . . . Truth is one species of good, and not, as is usually supposed, a category distinct from good, and coordinate with it. The true is the name of whatever proves itself to be good in the way of belief.

    .

    Expedient means “proper under the circumstances.” What is most proper is the direct view of what is there without any assumptions or interpretations. What is viewed directly is the belief. This is also mindfulness in observation.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    Truth is a process, and “happens to an idea”; verity is verification. Instead of asking whence an idea is derived, or what are its premises, pragmatism examines its results; it “shifts the emphasis and looks forward”; it is “the attitude of looking away from first things, principles, categories/ supposed necessities, and of looking towards last things, fruits, consequences, facts.” Scholasticism asked, What is the thing, and lost itself in “quiddities”; Darwinism asked, What is its origin? and lost itself in nebulas; pragmatism asks, What are its consequences? and turns the face of thought to action and the future.

    .

    Truth is looking at what is there for its direct impact.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    III PLURALISM
    Let us apply this method to the oldest problem in philosophy the existence and nature of God, The Scholastic philosophers described the deity as “Ens a se extra, et supra omne genus, necessarium, unum, infinite, perfectinn, simplex, immutabile, imwensitm, eternum, intelligens.” This is magnificent; what deity would not be proud of such a definition? But what does it mean? – what are its consequences for mankind? If God is omniscient and omnipotent, we are puppets; there is nothing that we can do to change the course of destiny which His will has from the beginning delineated and decreed; Calvinism and fatalism are the logical corollaries of such a definition. The same test applied to mechanistic determinism issues in the same results: if we really believed in determinism we would become Hindu mystics and abandon ourselves at once to the immense fatality which uses us as marionettes. Of course we do not accept these sombre philosophies; the human intellect repeatedly proposes them because of their logical simplicity and symmetry, but life ignores and overflows them, and passes on.

    .

    The “truth” of God implies total determinism, but we do not observe that in life.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    A philosophy may be unimpeachable in other respects, but either of two defects will be fatal to its universal adoption. First, its ultimate principle must not be one that essentially baffles and disappoints our dearest desires and most cherished hopes. . . . But a second and worse defect in a philosophy than contradicting our active propensities is to give them no object whatever to press against. A philosophy whose principle is so incommensurate with our most intimate powers as to deny them all relevancy in universal affairs, as to annihilate their motives at one blow, will be even more unpopular than pessimism. … That is why materialism will always fail of universal adoption.”

    .

    The “truth” of philosophy implies continuing discoveries, and not a dead end. This gives us a God that is unknowable.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    Men accept or reject philosophies, then, according to their needs and their temperaments, not according to “objective truth”; they do not ask, Is this logical? – they ask, What will the actual practice of this philosophy mean for our lives and our interests? Arguments for and against may serve to illuminate, but they never prove.

    Logic and sermons never convince;
    The clamp of the night drives deeper into my soul. . . .
    Now I re-examine philosophies and religions.
    They may prove well in lecture rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds, and along the landscape and flowing currents.

    We know that: arguments are dictated by our needs, and that our needs cannot be dictated to by arguments.

    .

    Philosophy must satisfy what we desire to know.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    The history of philosophy is to a great extent that of a certain clash of human temperaments. … Of whatever temperament a professional philosopher is, he tries, when philosophizing, to sink the fact of his temperament. Temperament is no conventionally recognized reason, so he urges impersonal reasons only for his conclusions. Yet his temperament really gives him a stronger bias than any of his more strictly objective premises.

    .

    A philosopher’s temperament acts as a filter. It overflows his reason. His philosophy takes the direction of what he naturally wants to know.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    These temperaments which select and dictate philosophies may be divided into the tender-minded and the tough-minded. The tender-minded temperament is religious, it likes to have definite and unchanging dogmas and a priori truths; it takes naturally to free will, idealism, monism, and optimism. The tough-minded temperament is materialistic, irreligious, empiricist (going only on “facts”), sensationalistic (tracing all knowledge to sensation), fatalistic, pluralistic, pessimistic, sceptical. In each group there are gaping contradictions; and no doubt there are temperaments that select their theories partly from one group and partly from the other. There are people (William James, for example) who are “tough-minded” in their addiction to facts and in their reliance on the senses, and yet “tender-minded” in their horror of determinism and their need for religious belief. Can a philosophy be found that will harmonize these apparently contradictory demands?

    .

    The temperament of philosophers leads to different philosophies that are inconsistent with each other.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    James believes that pluralistic theism affords us such a synthesis. He offers a finite God, not an Olympian thunderer sitting aloof on a cloud, “but one helper, primus inter pares, in the midst of all the shapers of the great world’s fate.” The cosmos is not a closed and harmonious system; it is a battle-ground of cross-currents and conflicting purposes; it shows itself, with pathetic obviousness, as not a uni- but a multi-verse. It is useless to say that this chaos in which we live and move is the result of one consistent will; it gives every sign of contradiction and division within itself. Perhaps the ancients were wiser than we, and polytheism may be truer than monotheism to the astonishing diversity of the world. Such polytheism “has always been the real religion of common people, and is so still today.” The people are right, and the philosophers are wrong. Monism is the natural disease of philosophers, who hunger and thirst not (as they think) for truth, but for unity. “‘The world is One!’ the formula may become a sort of number-worship. Three’ and ‘seven’ have, it is true, been reckoned as sacred numbers; but abstractly taken, why is ‘one’ more excellent than ‘forty-three,’ or than ‘two million and ten’?”

    .

    By opting for polytheism James is revealing his self-centric view. A reality-centric view shall look at the ultimate reality as simply unknowable. This will be consistent with the “truth” of philosophy, which aims at continuing discoveries.

    There is no single overpowering will, but the common denominators underlying the cosmos could be reduced to a few or even to a single factor. However that would be unknowable in advance. Whether cosmos is a uni- or multi- verse does not matter. All existence can be treated as a single system.

    .

    • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 5:16 PM

      If mankind endures, then we will come to know enough more about the universe so as to make what we currently know barely recognizable. I estimate that there is many times more to know than has previously been known in total. Therefore, philosophy will remain alive and well and progressing as it should, God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world. (small rant at the end)

    • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 5:17 PM

      “All existence can be treated as a single system.”

      This may be the more salient point that I take away from these discussions.

  • Chris Thompson  On June 11, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    Can we understand that there is something which is there which is other than the sand? For instance, if I made the analogy of an intentional radio transmission, then carefully tuning in the part of the signal that we want and tuning out the signal that we don’t want resolves the signal and coalesces into a highly focused reception and the desired abstraction. Yet all the EMR is just EMR until we manipulate it. No difference between what seems to be there and what is there.

    • vinaire  On June 11, 2014 at 7:38 PM

      Just trust mindfulness to detect inconsistencies. Track each of them down as far as you can. The more basic are the inconsistencies the more important it is to track them.

  • vinaire  On June 12, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    The value of a multiverse, as compared with a universe, lies in this, that where there are cross-currents and warring forces our own strength and will may count and help decide the issue; it is a world where nothing is irrevocably settled, and all action matters, A monistic world is for us a dead world; in such a universe we carry out, willy-nilly, the parts assigned to us by an omnipotent deity or a primeval nebula; and not all our tears can wipe out one word of the eternal script. In a finished universe individuality is a delusion; “in reality,” the monist assures us, we are all bits of one mosaic substance. But in an unfinished world we can write some lines of the parts we play, and our choices mould in some measure the future in which we have to live. In such a world we can be free; it is a world of chance, and not of fate; everything is “not quite”; and what we are or do may alter everything. If Cleopatra’s nose, said Pascal, had been an inch longer or shorter, all history would have been changed.

    .

    The term “universe” simply treats all existence as a single system. The properties of this system are to be determined next.
    One should not automatically assume a universe to be monistic as James is doing here. Such assumptions then lead unnecessarily to additional terms like multi-verse.

    Conception of an omnipotent deity is just one of the hypotheses. Other scenarios, such as, a “neti-neti” conception of Brahma is an equally valid approach to understanding the core reality. I agree with James that it is not a finished universe where everything is completely determined. There is a lot of room for play as nothing in this universe is absolute.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 12, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    The theoretical evidence for such free will, or such a multiverse, or such a finite God, is as lacking as for the opposite philosophies. Even the practical evidence may vary from person to person; it is conceivable that some may find better results, for their lives, from a deterministic than from a libertarian philosophy. But where the evidence is indecisive, our vital and moral interest’s should make the choice.

    .

    The free will versus determinism is the wrong debate. This debate assumes a self-centric viewpoint. The “self” is as yet an undefined subjective concept. One should start from the broadest viewpoint possible, which is the reality-centric viewpoint.

    One should therefore look from a viewpoint that is consistent with the overall reality. One may then try to resolve observations that appear inconsistent when looking from that viewpoint.

    .

    • Chris Thompson  On June 12, 2014 at 8:11 PM

      That’s how I’ve been seeing it as well. The paradox (catastrophic inconsistency) of freewill and determinism being objectively indistinguishable from one another points the way.

  • vinaire  On June 12, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    (James) “If there be any life that it is really better that we should lead, and if there be any idea which, if believed in, would help us to lead that life, then it would be really better for us to believe in that idea, unless, indeed, belief in it incidentally clashed with other greater vital benefits.

    .

    (James) “The answer, of course, is that unity, or one system of laws holding throughout the universes facilitates explanation, prediction, and control.”

    .

  • vinaire  On June 12, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    Now the persistence of the belief in God is the best proof of its almost universal vital and moral value. James was amazed and attracted by the endless varieties of religious experience and belief; he described them with an artist’s sympathy, even where he most disagreed with them. He saw some truth in every one of them, and demanded an open mind toward every new hope. He did not hesitate to affiliate himself with the Society for Psychical Research; why should not such phenomena, as well as others, be the object of patient examination? In the end, James was convinced of the reality of another – a spiritual – world.

    .

    Belief in God implies a self-centric view. It has many other untested implications. It is different from belief in one system of laws holding throughout the universes that facilitates explanation, prediction, and control.

    There is no another “spiritual world,” different and separate from this world, as James came to believe. “Spiritual” is simply another aspect of this world, and it needs to be fully explored.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 12, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    (James) “I firmly disbelieve, myself, that our human experience is the highest form of experience extant in the universe. I believe rather that we stand in much the same relation to the whole of the universe as our canine and feline pets do to the whole of human life. They inhabit our drawing rooms and libraries. They take part in scenes of whose significance they have no inkling. They are merely tangent to curves of history, the beginnings and ends and forms of which pass wholly beyond their ken. So we are tangent to the wider life of things.”

    .

    Yes, there is a lot that we don’t know in spite of all our experience. There is a lot yet to be known and that is very exciting.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 12, 2014 at 9:25 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    Nevertheless he did not think of philosophy as a meditation on death; no problems had value for him unless they could guide and stimulate our terrestrial career. “It was with the excellencies, not the duration, of our natures, that he occupied himself.” He did not live in his study so much as in the current of life; he was an active worker in a hundred efforts for human betterment; he was always helping somebody, lifting men up with the contagion of his courage. He believed that in every individual there were “reserve energies” which the occasional midwifery of circumstance would bring forth; and his constant sermon, to the individual and to society, was a plea that these resources should be entirely used. He was horrified at the waste of human energy in war; and he suggested that these mighty impulses of combat and mastery could find a better outlet in a “war against nature.” Why should not every man, rich or poor, give two years of his life to the state, not for the purpose of killing other people, but to conquer the plagues, and drain the marshes, and irrigate the deserts, and dig the canals, and democratically do the physical and social engineering which builds up so slowly and painfully what war so quickly destroys?

    .

    Alas! Not everybody thought like he did. The reason for that needs to be investigated.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 12, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    He sympathized with socialism, but he disliked its deprecation of the individual and the genius. Taine’s formula, which reduced all cultural manifestations to “race, environment, and time,” was inadequate precisely because it left out the individual. But only the individual has value; everything else is a means – even philosophy. And so we need on the one hand a state which shall understand that it is the trustee and servant of the interests of individual men and women; and on the other a philosophy and a faith which shall “offer the universe as an adventure rather than a scheme,” and shall stimulate every energy by holding up the world as a place where, though there are many defeats, there are also victories waiting to be won.

    A shipwrecked sailor, buried on this coast,
    Bids you set sail.
    Full many a gallant bark, when we were lost.
    Weathered the gale.

    .

    An individual is a concentration of capacity that should be respected and supported. Of course, individuality has value, but individuals are part of the whole picture. They should be looked upon as part of the whole picture. That is the reality-centric view.

    However, a self-centric view looks at everything in terms of the interests of the individual. Thus, views become too many and narrow in nature. Thus, differences arise, which then give rise to conflicts. Individual sacrifices are thrown out of the equation. The survival of the individual is important, but it increasingly becomes an obsession.

    The weakness in James philosophy is an inability to overcome the narrow self-centric view and move toward a reality-centric view.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 13, 2014 at 6:45 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    IV COMMENT
    The reader needs no guide to the new and the old elements in this philosophy. It is part of the modern war between science and religion; another effort, like Kant’s and Bergson’s, to rescue faith from the universalized mechanics of materialism. Pragmatism has its roots in Kant’s “practical reason”; in Schopenhauer’s exaltation of the will; in Darwin’s notion that the fittest (and therefore also the fittest and truest idea) is that which survives; in utilitarianism, which measured all goods in terms of use; in the empirical and inductive traditions of English philosophy; and finally in the suggestions of the American scene.

    .

    This is basically looking at James philosophy using existing philosophical parameters.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 13, 2014 at 6:51 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    Certainly, as everyone has pointed out, the manner, if not the substance, of James’s thinking was specifically and uniquely American. The American lust for movement and acquisition fills the sails of his style and thought, and gives them a buoyant and almost aerial motility. Huneker calls it “a philosophy for philistines,” and indeed there is something that smacks of salesmanship in it: James talks of God as of an article to be sold to a materialistically-minded consumer by every device of optimistic advertising; and he counsels us to believe as if he were recommending long-term investments, with high dividends, in which there was nothing to lose, and all the (other) world to win. It was young America’s defense-reaction against European metaphysics and European science.

    .

    But I like James philosophy because it is useful.

    .

  • vinaire  On June 13, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    The new test of truth was of course an ancient one; and the honest philosopher described pragmatism modestly as “a new name for old ways of thinking. If the new test means that truth is that which has been tried, by experience and experiment, the answer is, Of course. If it means that personal utility is a test of truth, the answer is, Of course not; personal utility is merely personal utility; only universal permanent utility would constitute truth. When some pragmatists speak of a belief having been true once because then useful (though now disproved), they utter nonsense learnedly; it was a useful error, not a truth. Pragmatism is correct only if it is a platitude.

    .

    Universal permanent utility would simply be one layer of truth. Truth has many layers and it is always relative and never absolute.

    .

    • Chris Thompson  On June 13, 2014 at 7:32 PM

      . . . but seems to be universally arrived at when a reality-centric view is pursued.

    • vinaire  On June 13, 2014 at 7:47 PM

      Reality would be what is perceived directly in case of mindfulness. But how direct is it? Are there unknown filters involved? Yes sireee there are.

  • vinaire  On June 13, 2014 at 7:13 PM

    (The Story of Philosophy)

    What James meant to do, however, was to dispel the cobwebs that had entangled philosophy; he wished to reiterate in a new and startling way the old English attitude towards theory and ideology. He was but carrying on the work of Bacon in turning the face of philosophy once more towards the inescapable world of things. He will be remembered for this empirical emphasis, this new realism, rather than for his theory of truth; and he will be honored perhaps more as a psychologist than as a philosopher. He knew that he had found no solution for the old questions; he frankly admitted that he had expressed only another guess, another faith. On his desk, when he died, there lay a paper on which he had written his last, and perhaps his most characteristic, sentences: “There is no conclusion. What has concluded that we might conclude in regard to it? There are no fortunes to be told and there is no advice to be given. Farewell.”

    .

    Yes. There is no absolute truth if that is meant by conclusion. Ultimately this reality is something that has been put together. What is most interesting is the continuing discovery of how this reality has been put together.

    By the way, I got more from the Wikipedia article than from Will Durant.

    .

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