William James: True is what works

A Quest To Seek The Sublime In The Spiritual
by Eric Weiner
December 20, 2011

… Avraham is happy — happier than just about anyone I’ve ever met.
Non-believers might say his happiness is based on a lie.
But who are we to say what is true?
As William James, that great chronicler of religious experience, put it: “Truth is what works.”
On the face of it, that sounds absurd.
But James is speaking of a different kind of truth.
If spiritual practices work for us, if they make us better, happier people, than they are true.

William James
August 30, 2002
Commentator Joe Loconte comes to the defense of religion by reminding us of the work of Harvard psychologist and philosopher William James. Although James was himself an agnostic, in his book, The Varieties of Religious Experience he credited religious ideals for mankind’s “highest flights of charity, devotion, trust, patience (and) bravery.”


philosophical pragmatism, a home-grown American philosophy developed at the end of the 19th century by William James and John Dewey.
Philosophical pragmatists are anti-absolutists.
They believe that compromise, public debate and civility are the building blocks of true democracy.


May 13, 2009
America’s only homegrown philosophy, pragmatism, this other gospel has been reappearing, reinvented, again and again in the writings of certain American geniuses, thinkers like William Byrd, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, William James, John Dewey, and Lynn Margulis.


William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism

Book Explores Intellectual Power of William James
by Jacki Lyden
November 12, 2006

Author Robert D. Richardson has written a new biography called William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism.

the mind/body problem, which says we have a mind and we have a body, and James says not so fast; there’s no real place where you can say the mind stops and the body begins, they are so interconnected. Mind is physical and the physical body seems driven by mind sometimes.

He’s reading a French Philosopher named Reneuvia(ph), who says that we are free.

LYDEN: He believed that you act as if, you act as if it’s true because action itself will help. If you are depressed and you manage to throw yourself out of the chair it can almost physically start to trigger you, and that was a very radical concept at the time.

Mr. RICHARDSON: It is. It’s not what you intend to do. It’s not your good wishes.
It’s not your ideals. It’s not all that.
It is what you do.

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