Frasi di William James

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William James

Data di nascita: 11. Gennaio 1842
Data di morte: 26. Agosto 1910

William James è stato uno psicologo e filosofo statunitense di origine irlandese. Egli fu presidente della Society for Psychical Research dal 1894 al 1895. Wikipedia

„[La depressione] è un tormento vivo e concreto, una sorta di nevralgia psichica totalmente ignota alla vita normale.“

—  William James

Origine: Da Varie forme dell'esperienza religiosa; citato in Serena Zoli, Giovanni B. Cassano, E liberaci dal male oscuro, TEA, Milano, 2009, p. 482. ISBN 978-88-502-0209-6

„L'essere umano più miserabile del mondo è quello in cui la sola cosa abituale è l'indecisione.“

—  William James

Origine: Citato in Guido Almansi, Il filosofo portatile, TEA, Milano, 1991.

Citát „L'arte di essere saggi è l'arte di capire a cosa si può passar sopra.“

„L'arte di essere saggi è l'arte di capire a cosa si può passar sopra.“

—  William James

Principi di psicologia

„Sforzati di credere che la vita è degna di essere vissuta e questo ti aiuterà a renderla tale.“

—  William James

Origine: Citato in Julia Butterfly Hill, Ognuno può fare la differenza, traduzione di Isabella Bolech, Corbaccio, Milano, 2002, p. 16. ISBN 88-7972-542-4

„La religione […] è la reazione totale di un uomo alla vita.“

—  William James

Origine: Da Le varie forme dell'esperienza religiosa.

„The richness of its allegorical meaning also is due to his being there — that is, the world is all the richer for having a devil in it, so long as we keep our foot upon his neck.“

—  William James

Lecture II, "Circumscription of the Topic"
1900s, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902)
Contesto: But such a straight identification of religion with any and every form of happiness leaves the essential peculiarity of religious happiness out. The more commonplace happinesses which we get are 'reliefs,' occasioned by our momentary escapes from evils either experienced or threatened. But in its most characteristic embodiments, religious happiness is no mere feeling of escape. It cares no longer to escape. It consents to the evil outwardly as a form of sacrifice — inwardly it knows it to be permanently overcome. … In the Louvre there is a picture, by Guido Reni, of St. Michael with his foot on Satan's neck. The richness of the picture is in large part due to the fiend's figure being there. The richness of its allegorical meaning also is due to his being there — that is, the world is all the richer for having a devil in it, so long as we keep our foot upon his neck.

„Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half-awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.“

—  William James

The Energies of Men
1910s, Memories and Studies (1911)
Contesto: Every one is familiar with the phenomenon of feeling more or less alive on different days. Every one knows on any given day that there are energies slumbering in him which the incitements of that day do not call forth, but which he might display if these were greater. Most of us feel as if we lived habitually with a sort of cloud weighing on us, below our highest notch of clearness in discernment, sureness in reasoning, or firmness in deciding. Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half-awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.

„The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.“

—  William James

Origine: 1890s, The Principles of Psychology (1890), Ch. 22

„Earnestness means willingness to live with energy, though energy bring pain.“

—  William James

Lectures XI, XII, AND XIII : "Saintliness" https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Varieties_of_Religious_Experience/Lectures_XI,_XII,_and_XIII
1900s, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902)
Contesto: One mode of emotional excitability is exceedingly important in the composition of the energetic character, from its peculiarly destructive power over inhibitions. I mean what in its lower form is mere irascibility, susceptibility to wrath, the fighting temper; and what in subtler ways manifests itself as impatience, grimness, earnestness, severity of character. Earnestness means willingness to live with energy, though energy bring pain. The pain may be pain to other people or pain to one's self — it makes little difference; for when the strenuous mood is on one, the aim is to break something, no matter whose or what. Nothing annihilates an inhibition as irresistibly as anger does it; for, as Moltke says of war, destruction pure and simple is its essence.

„The bubbles on the foam which coats a stormy sea are floating episodes, made and unmade by the forces of the wind and water. Our private selves are like those bubbles—epiphenomena“

—  William James

Lecture XX, "Conclusions"
1900s, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902)
Contesto: Science... has ended by utterly repudiating the personal point of view. She catalogues her elements and records her laws indifferent as to what purpose may be shown forth by them, and constructs her theories quite careless of their bearing on human anxieties and fates. Though the scientist may individually nourish a religion, and be a theist in his irresponsible hours, the days are over when it could be said that for Science herself the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Our solar system, with its harmonies, is seen now as but one passing case of a certain sort of moving equilibrium in the heavens, realized by a local accident in an appalling wilderness of worlds where no life can exist. In a span of time which as a cosmic interval will count but as an hour, it will have ceased to be. The Darwinian notion of chance production, and subsequent destruction, speedy or deferred, applies to the largest as well as to the smallest facts. It is impossible, in the present temper of the scientific imagination, to find in the driftings of the cosmic atoms, whether they work on the universal or on the particular scale, anything but a kind of aimless weather, doing and undoing, achieving no proper history, and leaving no result. Nature has no one distinguishable ultimate tendency with which it is possible to feel a sympathy. In the vast rhythm of her processes... she appears to cancel herself. The books of natural theology which satisfied the intellects of our grandfathers seem to us quite grotesque, representing, as they did, a God who conformed the largest things of nature to the paltriest of our private wants. The God whom science recognizes must be a God of universal laws exclusively, a God who does a wholesale, not a retail business. He cannot accommodate his processes to the convenience of individuals. The bubbles on the foam which coats a stormy sea are floating episodes, made and unmade by the forces of the wind and water. Our private selves are like those bubbles—epiphenomena, as Clifford, I believe, ingeniously called them; their destinies weigh nothing and determine nothing in the world's irremediable currents of events.

„Science… has ended by utterly repudiating the personal point of view.“

—  William James

Lecture XX, "Conclusions"
1900s, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902)
Contesto: Science... has ended by utterly repudiating the personal point of view. She catalogues her elements and records her laws indifferent as to what purpose may be shown forth by them, and constructs her theories quite careless of their bearing on human anxieties and fates. Though the scientist may individually nourish a religion, and be a theist in his irresponsible hours, the days are over when it could be said that for Science herself the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Our solar system, with its harmonies, is seen now as but one passing case of a certain sort of moving equilibrium in the heavens, realized by a local accident in an appalling wilderness of worlds where no life can exist. In a span of time which as a cosmic interval will count but as an hour, it will have ceased to be. The Darwinian notion of chance production, and subsequent destruction, speedy or deferred, applies to the largest as well as to the smallest facts. It is impossible, in the present temper of the scientific imagination, to find in the driftings of the cosmic atoms, whether they work on the universal or on the particular scale, anything but a kind of aimless weather, doing and undoing, achieving no proper history, and leaving no result. Nature has no one distinguishable ultimate tendency with which it is possible to feel a sympathy. In the vast rhythm of her processes... she appears to cancel herself. The books of natural theology which satisfied the intellects of our grandfathers seem to us quite grotesque, representing, as they did, a God who conformed the largest things of nature to the paltriest of our private wants. The God whom science recognizes must be a God of universal laws exclusively, a God who does a wholesale, not a retail business. He cannot accommodate his processes to the convenience of individuals. The bubbles on the foam which coats a stormy sea are floating episodes, made and unmade by the forces of the wind and water. Our private selves are like those bubbles—epiphenomena, as Clifford, I believe, ingeniously called them; their destinies weigh nothing and determine nothing in the world's irremediable currents of events.

„Take the happiest man, the one most envied by the world, and in nine cases out of ten his inmost consciousness is one of failure.“

—  William James

Lectures VI and VII, "The Sick Soul"
1900s, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902)
Contesto: Take the happiest man, the one most envied by the world, and in nine cases out of ten his inmost consciousness is one of failure. Either his ideals in the line of his achievements are pitched far higher than the achievements themselves, or else he has secret ideals of which the world knows nothing, and in regard to which he inwardly knows himself to be found wanting.

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