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Inner division and uncertain contours: William James and the politics of the modern self


This article revisits the question of the social valence of William James's account of the self. As biographers have long noted, James worried much about the crisis of the autonomous, unitary and well-bounded self. This article suggests that, despite his anxieties, James perceived that those features of the self opened up new possibilities both for the individual and for society. By locating the Jamesian self in the context of period techniques for the cultivation of the self, religious and occult practices, and mystical-cum-political discourse, I argue that for James the crisis of the modern self represented a means both of rooting individuals firmly in the community and of endowing them with a form of agency stronger than those promised by traditional doctrines of the simple, self-directed and well-bounded self. Thus, I argue, James's conception of the self and the techniques of the self that he advocated were part and parcel of an attempt to rethink the relationship between individual and community and to promote a new type of society, one composed of spontaneous pluralistic, open and intimate communities.

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E. Carter, ‘Critical Introduction’, in W. D. Howells, A Hazard of New Fortunes, New York, 2002, 34.

William James to W. D. Howells, 27 August 1890, in The Correspondence of William James (ed. I. Skrupskelis and E. M. Berkeley), 12 vols., Charlottesville, 1992–2004, vii, 87.

Howells, op. cit. (1), 263.

Howells, op. cit. (1), 136–7, 353.

Howells, op. cit. (1), 126, 390, 476.

Howells, op. cit. (1), 296–7.

On the crisis of the autonomous self in late nineteenth-century America see e.g. T. J. Jackson Lears, No Place of Grace: Anti-modernism and the Transformation of American Culture 1880–1920, New York, 1981; R. Wiebe, Self-Rule: A Cultural History of American Democracy, Chicago, 1995; J. Sklansky, The Soul's Economy: Market Society and Selfhood in American Thought, 1820–1920, Chapel Hill, 2002. See also S. Bercovitch, ‘The rites of assent: rhetoric, ritual, and the ideology of American consensus’, in The American Self: Myth, Ideology, and Popular Culture (ed. S. B. Girgus), Albuquerque, 1981, 5–42; W. M. McClay, The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America, Chapel Hill, 1994; J. Ryan, The Vanishing Subject: Early Psychology and Literary Modernism, Chicago, 1991; G. Cotkin, William James, Public Philosopher, Baltimore, 1990, 8. The crisis of the self, of course, was not confined to America. However, as Wiebe observed, in the USA the democratic tradition of localism, self-governance and diffusion of political responsibility (among free men) made the crisis particularly perceptible. See also A. Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age, New York, 1982, Chapter 2; W. Licht, Industrializing America: The Nineteenth Century, Baltimore, 1995, 130. For a period discussion see H. D. Lloyd, Wealth against Commonwealth, New York, 1894, 498.

Lears, op. cit. (7), 60.

See e.g. Huxley, T. H., ‘On the hypothesis that animals are automata, and its history’, Fortnightly Review (1874), 22, 555–80. On the channels through which Huxley's unconscious automaton theory reached a large middle-class North American public see A. Desmond, Huxley: From Devil's Advocate to Evolution's High Priest, Reading, 1997. For debates concerning the generalized reflex-arc theory (which extended unconscious automatisms from the spine to the cerebrum) and its ramifications for the problem of free will see e.g. L. Daston, ‘The theory of will versus the science of mind’, in The Problematic Science: Psychology in Nineteenth-Century Thought (ed. M. Ash and W. Woodward), New York, 1982, 88–115; K. Danziger, ‘Mid-nineteenth-century British psycho-physiology: a neglected chapter in the history of psychology’, in ibid., 119–46; A. Winter, Mesmerized: Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain, Chicago, 1998. For a more technical discussion of reflex-arc theories in Britain and Germany see E. Clarke and L. S. Jacyna, Nineteenth-Century Origins of Neuroscientific Concepts, Berkeley, 1987.

10  On the centrality of occult practices to the modern reconfiguration of interiority see A. Owen, The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern, Chicago, 2004; idem, ‘Occultism and the “modern” self in fin-de-siècle Britain’, in Meanings of Modernity: Britain from the Late Victorian Era to World War II (ed. M. Daunton and B. Rieger), Oxford, 2001, 71–96, especially 80. In automatic writing the hand of a person, unknown to the mind, would write things of which the subject had no knowledge.

11  Sklansky, op. cit. (7), 142.

12  McClay, op. cit. (7), 150.

13  Among them was John Dewey. See Livingston, J., ‘The strange career of the “Social Self”’, Radical History Review (2000), 76, 5379.

14  E. Bellamy, The Religion of Solidarity (written in 1873) (ed. A. E. Morgan), Yellow Springs, OH, 1940, 14, 17–18, 24. See also J. L. Thomas, Alternative America: Henry George, Edward Bellamy, Henry Demarest Lloyd, and the Adversary Tradition, Cambridge, MA, 1983, 87; and C. J. Guarneri, The Utopian Alternative: Fourierism in Nineteenth-Century America, Ithaca, NY, 1991.

15  The literature on James's account of the self is rich. On the philosophical side see e.g. G. Myers, William James, His Life and Thought, New Haven, 1986, Chapter 12; E. Fontinell, Self, God, and Immortality: A Jamesian Investigation, Philadelphia, 1986; J. McDermott, ‘The Promethean self and community in the philosophy of William James’, in idem, Streams of Experience: Reflections on the History and Philosophy of American Culture, Amherst, MA, 1986, 43–58; T. L. S. Sprigge, James and Bradley: American Truth and British Reality, Chicago, 1993; R. Gale, The Divided Self of William James, Cambridge, 1999; W. Cooper, The Unity of William James's Thought, Nashville, 2002. On the more historical side see D. E. Leary, ‘William James on the self and personality: clearing the ground for subsequent theorists, researchers, and practitioners’, in Reflections of the Principles of Psychology: William James after a Century (ed. M. G. Johnson and T. B. Henley), Hillsdale, NJ, 1990, 101–37; M. Brewester Smith, ‘William James and the psychology of the self’, in Reinterpreting the Legacy of William James (ed. M. E. Donnelly), Washington, DC, 1993, 173–87; Coon, D. J., ‘Salvaging the self in a world without soul: William James's The Principles of Psychology’, History of Psychology (2000), 3, 81183; Sklansky, op. cit. (7).

16  James, ‘The gospel of relaxation’, in idem, Talks to Teachers on Psychology and to Students on Some of Life's Ideals: The Works of William James (gen. ed. F. Burkhardt), Cambridge, MA, 1983, 124.

17  James, The Principles of Psychology: The Works of William James (gen. ed. F. Burkhardt), Cambridge, MA, 1981, 295. See also Gale, op. cit. (15), 18.

18  Most scholars associate James's early depression with his concerns about determinism. See e.g. Richards, R. J., ‘The personal equation in science: William James's psychological and moral uses of the Darwinian theory’, A William James Renascence: Four Essays by Young Scholars. Harvard Library Bulletin (1982), 30, 387425; C. Seigfried, William James's Radical Reconstruction of Philosophy, Albany, NY, 11. For a different point of view see Cotkin, op. cit. (7), 7 and Chapter 2. See also L. Simon, Genuine Reality: A Life of William James, Chicago, 2000, Chapter 6; H. M. Feinstein, Becoming William James, Ithaca, NY, 1984, 124–37. On James's neurasthenia see Cotkin, op. cit. (7); and T. Lutz, American Nervousness, 1903: An Anecdotal History, Ithaca, NY, 1991, 63–98.

19  See e.g. William James to William M. Salter, 8 April 1898, quoted in D. Coon, ‘Courtship with anarchy: the socio-political foundations of William James's pragmatism’, Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1988, 125. See also J. T. Kloppenberg, Uncertain Victory: Social Democracy and Progressivism in English and American Thought, 1870–1920, New York, 1986, 168.

20  See R. B. Westbrook, Democratic Hope: Pragmatism and the Politics of Truth, Ithaca, NY, 2005, 57.

21  Schirmer, D. B., ‘William James and the New Age’, Science and Society (1969), 33, 434–45.

22  James to Carl Schurz, 16 March 1900. The Anti-Imperialist League also included Democrats, Republicans, labour leaders and businessmen. According to some historians, however, the mugwump section represented the spearhead of the movement. See R. L. Beisner, In Twelve against Empire, New York, 1968, 11.

23  James, ‘The Philippine tangle’, in idem, Essays, Comments, and Reviews: The Works of William James (gen. ed. F. Burkhardt), Cambridge, 1987, 155. See also James to William Dean Howells, from Rome, 16 November 1900, and James, address at the annual meeting of the New England Anti-Imperialist League, 1903 (quoted in Schirmer, op. cit. (21), 439).

24  See Beisner, op. cit. (22), 35–52; Cotkin, op. cit. (7), 129; and Westbrook, op. cit. (20), 54–8. James, for example, diverged from other mugwumps on the momentous issue of federal monetary policy. See Coon, op. cit. (19), 142.

25  Kloppenberg, op. cit. (19), 169.

26  See J. I. Miller, Democratic Temperament: The Legacy of William James, Lawrence, 1997, especially 25–32; B. Lloyd, Left Out: Pragmatism, Exceptionalism, and the Poverty of American Marxism, 1890–1920, Baltimore, 1997. For a discussion of these works see Sklansky, op. cit. (7), 273–4.

27  William James to William Dean Howells, Rome, 16 November 1900, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), ix, 362. See Coon, D. J., ‘One moment in the world's salvation: anarchism and the radicalization of William James’, Journal of American History (1996), 83, 7099, especially 71.

28  On James's ‘anarchism’ see also Cotkin, op. cit. (7).

29  James compared the ‘performance’ of the USA in the Philippines to the ‘infernal adroitness of the great department store, which has reached perfect expertness in the art of killing silently and with no public … commotion the neighboring small concern’. James, ‘The Philippine tangle’, op. cit. (23), 156. See also Beisner, op. cit. (22), 46–7; and William James to Henry James, 20 February 1899; James to Sarah Whitman, 7 June 1899, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), viii, 545–6; Coon, op. cit. (19), 157 ff.

30  See Westbrook, ‘Mumford, Dewey, and the “Pragmatic Acquiescence”’, in Lewis Mumford: Public Intellectual (ed. T. Hughes and A. Hughes), New York, 1990, 301–22.

31  See e.g. M. Sklar, The Corporate Reconstruction of American Capitalism, 1890–1916: The Market, the Law, and Politics, New York, 1988.

32  Livingston, J., ‘The politics of pragmatism’, Social Text (1996), 49, 149–72, especially 152. ‘When there was a socialist movement on the American scene, James did explicitly identify with it’ (idem, Pragmatism and the Political Economy of Cultural Revolution, Chapel Hill, 1997, 166, 274–5.) On James's socialism see also F. Lentricchia, ‘On the ideologies of poetic modernism, 1890–1913: the example of William James’, in Reconstructing American Literary History (ed. S. Bercovitch), Cambridge, MA, 1986, 220–49.

33  See D. S. Browning, Pluralism and Personality: William James and Some Contemporary Culture of Psychology, Lewisburg, 1980; Kloppenberg, op. cit. (19), 148–52; Cotkin, op. cit. (7), Chapter 7; Coon, op. cit. (19); idem, op. cit. (27); Leary, op. cit. (15); idem, ‘William James, the psychologist's dilemma and the historiography of psychology: cautionary tales’, History of the Human Sciences (1995), 8, 91–105; Miller, op. cit. (26); C. H. Seigfried, ‘James: the point of view of the other’, in Classical American Pragmatism: Its Contemporary Vitality (ed. S. B. Rosenthal, C. R. Hausman and D. R. Anderson), Chicago, 1999, 85–98; Gale, op. cit. (15).

34  James, ‘On a certain blindness in human beings’, in Talks to Teachers, op. cit. (16), 132. See also Gale, op. cit. (15).

35  James, op. cit. (34), 138. See also Seigfried, op. cit. (33).

36  James, ‘What makes life significant’, in Talks to Teachers, op. cit. (16), 154–5. See also James, op. cit. (34), 134; Livingston, Pragmatism, op. cit. (32), 160 ff.

37  Cotkin, op. cit. (7), 111. See James, op. cit. (36), 152.

38  See Westbrook, op. cit. (20), 59.

39  James, ‘Preface’, in Talks to Teachers, op. cit. (16), 4–5; see also Westbrook, op. cit. (20), 149.

40  On this text see also Seigfried, op. cit. (33), Coon, op. cit. (19); Gale, op. cit. (15).

41  James, ‘The Philippine question’ (1st edn 1899), in Essays, Comments, and Reviews, op. cit. (23), 159.

42  James, op. cit. (41). ‘The Filipino mind, of course, was the absolutely vital feature in the situation: but this, being merely a psychological, and not a legal phenomenon, we disregarded it practically … From the point of view of business … the only relations between man and man are legal.’ James, ‘Diary of French naval officer: observations at Manila’ (1st edn 1900), in Essays, Comments, and Reviews, op. cit. (23), 167–8.

43  See James, ‘The Philippines again’ (1st edn 1899), in Essays, Comments, and Reviews, op. cit. (23), 160–2; and idem, ‘Governor Roosevelt's oration’ (1st edn 1899), in ibid., 164.

44  See D. A. Hollinger, Cosmopolitanism and Solidarity, Madison, 2006.

45  The tension was clearly formulated e.g. by James's friend Wincenty Lutoskawski. See Coon, op. cit. (19), 107.

46  See J. Hoopes, Community Denied: The Wrong Turn of Pragmatic Liberalism, Ithaca, NY, 1998, 54, 65.

47  For a full analysis of this text see Myers, op. cit. (15), Chapter 12; Fontinell, op. cit. (15); Leary, op. cit. (15); Gale op. cit. (15), Chapter 8.

48  James, op. cit. (17), 280–2, 291.

49  James, op. cit. (17), 281–2; original emphasis. James's discussion of the material self is heavily gendered.

50  James, op. cit. (17), 286. See also idem, Essays in Radical Empiricism: The Works of William James (gen. ed. F. Burkhardt), Cambridge, MA, 1976, 19.

51  James, op. cit. (17), 282, 295–6.

52  James, op. cit. (17), 317.

53  James, op. cit. (17), 320.

54  James, op. cit. (17), 321–2. See Sklansky, op. cit. (7), 148–9.

55  See especially E. Taylor, William James on Consciousness beyond the Margins, Princeton, 1996.

56  P. Janet, L'Automatisme psychologique, Paris, 1889, 454. See also idem, The Mental State of Hystericals (French edn. 1893–4), New York, 1901, 489–96.

57  James to Thomas Davidson, 13 September 1894, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), vii, 540.

58  James, op. cit. (16), 207, 222. See also James, ‘The hidden self’ (1st edn 1890), in idem, Essays in Psychology (gen. ed. F. Burkhardt), Cambridge, 1983, 247–68. See also James, Review of Pierre Janet's Etat mental des hystériques, in Essays, Comments, and Reviews, op. cit. (23), 470–4, discussed in Taylor, op. cit. (55), 52–4. James did not ascribe dissociation or hysteria exclusively to women.

59  For a description of the experiment see James, ‘Notes on automatic writing’ (1st edn 1889), in idem, Essays in Psychical Research: The Works of William James (gen. ed. F. Burkhardt), Cambridge, 1986, 37–55.

60  In other cases of automatic writing two consciousnesses could communicate, but appeared not to be ‘on good terms’. See James, op. cit. (59), 48.

61  James, ‘Report of the Committee on Hypnotism’ (1st edn 1886), in Essays in Psychology, op. cit. (58), 191–2. In one experiment two subjects were made blind to a ‘red patch laid on a piece of paper’. While apparently insensitive to the red image, both reported perceiving what James knew must be its ‘after-image’, a ‘bluish-green patch’. This, James concluded, indicated that sensation of some sort did occur; the subject had somehow indeed ‘felt’ the sense impression. (See also James, op. cit. (17), 208 and 1206.) On these experiments see Taylor, op. cit. (55), 19–24.

62  For James's discussion of these experiments see James, op. cit. (17), 206, 1213. See also James, ‘The hidden self’, op. cit. (58), 268.

63  Gurney, E., ‘Peculiarities of certain post-hypnotic states’, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (1886–7), 4, 293, 311, 318; see also J. Oppenheim, The Other World, Cambridge, 1985, 250. For James's indebtedness to Pierre Janet regarding this point see A. Taves, ‘The fragmentation of consciousness and The Varieties of Religious Experience’, in William James and a Science of Religions: Reexperiencing ‘The Varieties of Religious Experience’ (ed. W. Proudfoot), New York, 2004, 51.

64  See Taves, op. cit. (63), 69.

65  See J. Goldstein, ‘The advent of psychological modernism in France: an alternate narrative’, in D. Ross (ed.), Modernist Impulses in the Human Sciences 1870–1930, 204–6.

66  T. Ribot, Diseases of Personality, Chicago, 1891, 28 ff.

67  James, Manuscript Lectures: The Works of William James (gen. ed. F. Burkhardt), Cambridge, MA, 1988, 66. By then James was familiar with various works that looked at dissociation through the vantage point of the biology of colonial organisms. See e.g. Myers, F. W. H., ‘Human personality’, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (1886–7), 4, 124; M. Prince, The Nature of Mind and Human Automatism, Philadelphia, 1885; A. Binet, Alterations of Personality (French edn 1891) (tr. H. G. Baldwin), New York, 1896.

68  The woman was the Boston medium Mrs Leonora Piper.

69  James, ‘The hidden self’, op. cit. (58), 268.

70  Pierre Janet to William James, 23 March 1890, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), vii, 13–14.

71  James, Essays in Psychical Research, op. cit. (59), 230. James was cautious in inferring that conclusion. See e.g. idem, Review of F. W. H. Myers, Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (1st edn 1903), in Essays in Psychical Research, op. cit. (59), 205.

72  See e.g. James, op. cit. (17), 246 ff. For a discussion of James's concept of the field of consciousness see D. C. Lamberth, William James and the Metaphysics of Experience, Cambridge, 1999; and Taylor, op. cit. (55).

73  See James, The Varieties of Religious Experience: The Works of William James (1st ed. 1903) (gen. ed. F. Burkhardt), Cambridge, MA, 1985, 162. See also idem, seminar, ‘The feelings’ (1895–6), in James, op. cit. (67), 220.

74  James, Varieties, op. cit. (73), 162–3, 189.

75  See H. James, Portrait of a Lady (1st edn 1881), New York, 1995, 175.

76  See James, op. cit. (59), 45.

77  F. W. H. Myers, Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death, 2 vols., New York, 1903, ii, 568–71. Discussed in James, op. cit. (71), 206.

78  James, op. cit. (71), 209–11.

79  On Myers's spiritualism see J. Oppenheim, op. cit. (63), 155.

80  James never committed himself to any of the many explanations of telepathy.

81  James, ‘Telepathy’ (1st edn 1895), in Essays in Psychical Research, op. cit. (59), 126; and idem, ‘A possible case of projections of the double’ (1st edn 1909), in ibid., 376–7.

82  James, ‘A suggestion about mysticism’ (1st edn 1909), in idem, Essays in Philosophy: The Works of William James (gen. ed. F. Burkhardt), Cambridge, MA, 1978, 161–2; original emphasis. See also Gale, op. cit. (15), 254 ff.

83  See James, Varieties, op. cit. (73), 307; James, The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Psychology: The Works of William James (1st edn 1897) (gen. ed. F. Burkhardt), Cambridge, MA, 1979, 217–21; Simon, op. cit. (18), 141, 259.

84  James, Varieties, op. cit. (73), 308. See also James, ‘Consciousness under nitrous oxide’ (1st edn 1898), in Essays in Psychology, op. cit. (58), 322–5, and Taylor, op. cit. (55), 91–2.

85  James, op. cit. (71), 206.

86  ‘The definitely closed nature of our personal consciousness is probably an average statistical resultant of many conditions, but not an elementary force or fact.’ James, op. cit. (17), 331. Quoted in Leary, op. cit. (15), 115.

87  J. Royce, The World and the Individual, 2 vols., London, 1901, ii.

88  On mental hygiene and mind cure in fin de siècle America see e.g. E. Caplan, Mind Games: American Culture and the Birth of Psychotherapy, Berkeley, 1998; H. Pols, ‘Managing the mind: the culture of American mental hygiene, 1910–1950’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1997, UMI accession number 9800914.

89  See Simon, op. cit. (18), 211–12.

90  On James's meeting with Vivekananda see Taylor, op. cit. (55), 62–4.

91  James to Wincenty Lutoslawski, 6 May 1906, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), xi, 220–2; quoted from Cotkin, op. cit. (7), 114.

92  H. W. Dresser, Voices of Freedom and Studies in the Philosophy of Individuality, New York, 1899, 24, 33. James read this book in the summer of 1900. The book openly acknowledged James's influence. See also Dresser, The Perfect Whole: An Essay on the Conduct and Meaning of Life, Boston, 1896.

93  The point is argued by E. Taylor. See Taylor, op. cit. (55), 64.

94  On James's relationships with Dresser see Taylor, op. cit. (55), 94. See also James, A Pluralistic Universe: The Works of William James (1st edn 1909) (gen. ed. F. Burkhardt), Cambridge, 1977, 197.

95  On Fletcher and James see Simon, op. cit. (18), 311.

96  His brother Henry, instead, continued practising the system for years. See Simon, op. cit. (18), 312.

97  See Simon, op. cit. (18), 343; and James, diary for 1907, entries for May, William James Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

98  James, op. cit. (17), 116, 119.

99  James, op. cit. (17), 127–8, 130. See also Leary, op. cit. (15), 113; Cotkin op. cit. (7).

100  See D. W. Howe, The Unitarian Conscience: Harvard Moral Philosophy, 1805–1861, Middletown, CT, 1988.

101  James, Varieties, op. cit. (73), 134.

102  James, Varieties, op. cit. (73), 141–2.

103  James, Varieties, op. cit. (73), 162, 173.

104  J. Crary, Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture, Cambridge, MA, 2000, 49.

105  See Swami Vivekananda, Yoga Philosophy: Lectures Delivered in New York, Winter of 1896, New York 1896, 7–8, 83. James marked this last page on his copy. See ‘Sources of William James’, typescript, William James Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

106  McDermott, op. cit. (15), 53, 57.

107  The patient, Ansel Bourne, was an itinerant preacher who at the age of sixty-one had suddenly disappeared from his home. He found himself two months later in a small town close to Philadelphia, where he had opened up a ‘five-cent’ goods store and lived under the new name of ‘A. J. Brown’. Brown knew nothing about Bourne nor could Bourne ever recall anything about Brown. James hypnotized Bourne several times between 27 May and 7 June 1890. He tried to stage an encounter under hypnosis between ‘Brown’ and the wife of Bourne, in Bourne's home. The encounter, however, did not take place and neither of the two personalities ever acknowledged the existence of the other. See Hodgson, R., ‘A case of double consciousness’, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (1891–2), 7, 221–57; James, op. cit. (17), 371.

108  James, op. cit. (17), 318.

109  As G. Myers put it, ‘the present self or act of thinking both finds and fashions the unity that causes us to think that we are the same person throughout successive experiences’. Myers, op. cit. (15), 349; added emphasis. See also Gale, op. cit. (15), 130, 234–9.

110  Cotkin, op. cit. (7), 114, and, more generally, Chapter 5.

111  Puffer, E. D., ‘The loss of personality’, Atlantic Monthly (1900), 85, 185204, 196.

112  ‘But man as man is essentially a weakling’, James wrote to Lutoslawksi. A ‘kräftige Seele [strong soul] … has to be conquered every minute afresh by an act’. James to Lutoslawksi, n.d. Quoted in Cotkin, op. cit. (7), 101.

113  On the (elitist) techniques for the cultivation of the unitary self in nineteenth-century France see J. Goldstein, The Post-revolutionary Self: Politics and Psyche in France, 1750–1850, Cambridge, MA, 2005.

114  Sklansky, op. cit. (7), 141–3.

115  James, ‘Horace Fletcher at Harvard’ (1st edn 1905), in Essays, Comments, and Reviews, op. cit. (23), 184–5; added emphasis.

116  James, Pragmatism: The Works of William James (1st edn 1907) (gen. ed. F. Burkhardt), Cambridge, MA, 1975, 139.

117  T. Flournoy, The Philosophy of William James (1st French edn 1911), New York, 1917, 131.

118  James, ‘The gospel’, op. cit. (16), 121, 123–4.

119  James, ‘The social value of the college-bred’ (1st edn 1907), in Essays, Comments, and Reviews, op. cit. (23), 109.

120  James, ‘The Philippine tangle’, op. cit. (23), 158.

121  James, op. cit. (41), 159.

122  The juvenile politician was Roosevelt. See James, ‘Answer to Roosevelt on the Venezuelan crisis’ (1st edn 1896), in Essays, Comments, and Reviews, op. cit. (23), 153; James, ‘Governor Roosevelt’, op. cit. (43), 163.

123  James, op. cit. (119). Since during James's life women did not have the right to vote, this address can be read as a defence of feminism. See also James, ‘Remarks at the Peace Banquet’, in James, Essays in Religion and Morality (gen. ed. F. Burkhardt), Cambridge, 1982, 123.

124  I borrow this term from Cotkin. See Cotkin, op. cit. (7), 112.

125  Goldstein, op. cit. (113), 303.

126  James, Human Immortality: Two Supposed Objections to the Doctrine (1st edn 1898), reprinted in Essays in Religion, op. cit. (123), 92.

127  James, ‘Confidences of a “Psychical Researcher”’, in Essays in Psychical Research, op. cit. (59), 374.

128  James, op. cit. (127).

129  See Livingston, op. cit. (13), 53–79.

130  H. D. Lloyd, ‘Is personal development the best social policy?’ (1st edn 1902), in idem, Mazzini and Other Essays, New York, 1910, 190–1, added emphasis. See also Lloyd, op. cit. (7), 527. On Lloyd see Thomas, op. cit. (14).

131  James to Bradley, 22 January 1905, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), x, 529.

132  Sprigge, op. cit. (15), 511, 520. James was also well acquainted with Josiah Royce's account of the self, which painted the individual self as part of an absolute self. See J. Royce, Studies of Good and Evil, New York, 1898, 201. On Royce's vision of community see R. Jackson Wilson, In Quest of Community: Social Philosophy in the United States, 1860–1920, Oxford, 144–70. For a different reading see J. Clendenning, The Life and Thought of Josiah Royce, Nashville, 1999, 299.

133  W. D. Howells, A Traveler from Altruria: Romance, New York, 1894; and idem, Through the Eye of the Needle: A Romance, New York, 1907.

134  James, Talks to Teachers, op. cit. (16), 277. See also Livingston, Pragmatism, op. cit. (32), 163.

135  H. James Sr, Society the Redeemed Form of Man, Boston, 1879, 196, 203, 285. Women were excluded from James Sr's regenerate society. See D. W. Hoover, Henry James Sr. and the Religion of Community, Grand Rapids, MI, 1969.

136  James Sr, op. cit. (135), 406–7.

137  R. W. Trine, In the Fire of the Heart, New York, 1906, 316–36. James owned a copy of this book. In this book, following James, Trine ascribed the tensions between labourers and capitalists to lack of active sympathy between the two groups. See also idem, What All the World's A-seeking, New York, 1896.

138  E. Carpenter, The Art of Creation: Essays on the Self and Its Powers (1st edn 1901), London, 1907, 54–7.

139  Carpenter, op. cit. (138), 57–9; see also D. K. Barua, Edward Carpenter 1844–1929 an Apostle of Freedom, Burdwan, 1991, 155–6.

140  Carpenter, op. cit. (138), 79, 90–1.

141  See Barua, op. cit. (139), 95.

142  N. Mackenzie (ed.), Letters of Sidney and Beatrice Webb, 3 vols., Cambridge, 1978, ii, 268; Barua, op. cit. (139), 158. Carpenter and James corresponded, and James once planned to visit Carpenter. James was also acquainted with the Webbs, whom he met in April 1898. See Mackenzie, ibid., 62.

143  R. M. Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind (1st edn 1901), New York, 1969, 4–5. James read this book with great interest. See William James to Alice Howe Gibbens James, 16 September 1901, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), ix, 542–3.

144  Bellamy, op. cit. (14), 17–18. On Bellamy see Thomas, op. cit. (14), 83–8; M. Pittenger, American Socialists and Evolutionary Thought, 1870–1920, Madison, 1993, Chapter 4; McClay, op. cit. (7), 1994, 78–82. James most likely never read Bellamy's manuscript ‘The religion of solidarity’. However, he read Bellamy's bestseller Looking Backward (1888). He also probably read other novels (some published posthumously by Howells) in which Bellamy sought to apply his religion of solidarity to the solution of social problems. For other examples of Christian socialists linking communitarian visions to the ‘mystical bond of divine life’ see Guarneri, op. cit. (14), 55.

145  James, ‘The literary remains of Henry James’, in Essays in Religion, op. cit. (123), 7. On this point see Leary, op. cit. (15), 102.

146  James to Sydney Haldane Oliver, 10 February 1905, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), x, 547.

147  Gale observes that James ‘favored [Western] pluralistic mysticism … over its monistic Eastern version’, a type of mysticism that allowed for unification without involving ‘complete numerical identity’ among the terms unified. Gale, op. cit. (15), 14, 271.

148  James to Sydney H. Oliver, 10 February 1905, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), x, 548.

149  Schiller, F. C. S., ‘Idealism and the dissociation of personality’, Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods (1906), 3, 477–82; James, ‘The mad absolute’ (1st edn 1906), in Essays in Philosophy, op. cit. (82), 149–50. Sally Beauchamp was the name of one of the personalities of a ‘multiple’ patient of Boston psychiatrist Morton Prince, a friend of James's.

150  William James, ‘On some Hegelisms’ (1882), in idem, The Will to Believe, op. cit. (83), 196–221, 218.

151  The botanical language that James used in discussing the permeable ‘fence’ separating the individual self from other selves closely echoed language used by Carpenter for similar purposes. See Carpenter, op. cit. (138), 124.

152  G. Myers is an exception. See Myers, op. cit. (15), 350. See also Gale, op. cit. (15).

153  James, op. cit. (67), 370. For an insightful philosophical discussion of this problem see Sprigge, op. cit. (15), Chapter 4.

154  James, op. cit. (94), 83.

155  See Sprigge, op. cit. (15), 177.

156  James explained that idealists assumed that the individual self ‘was’ insofar as it was thought of by the absolute, yet also continued to ‘be’ as it appeared to itself to be. But an individual's self-feeling must be very different from the way in which the absolute self thinks of that individual. Given the idealistic equation between ‘to be’ and ‘to be felt’, James concluded that this implied a logical contradiction: how can I be at once what I take myself to be, and what the absolute mind thinks I am? (James, op. cit. (94), Lecture 5).

157  James, op. cit. (94), 112–22, 127. This is what Gale describes as ‘the mushing together of spatio-temporal neighbors’. See Gale, op. cit. (15), 253.

158  That solution allowed individual consciousnesses to combine, yet to remain ‘each distinct from each other’. See Sprigge, op. cit. (15), 180.

159  See e.g. James, op. cit. (94), 131.

160  See Sprigge, op. cit. (15), 245. See also James to Bradley, 22 January 1905, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), x, 530.

161  James depicted many biological and cosmological theories of the time, rich in political implications, as counterparts of his technical metaphysical problem. See e.g. E. Haeckel (1878), ‘Zellseelen and Seelenzellen’, in Gesammelte populäre Verträge, 2 vols., Bonn, 1878, i; Royce, J.“Mind-stuff” and reality’, Mind (1881), 6, 365 ff; G. T. Fechner, Elemente der Psychophysik, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1860, ii, Chapter 45; and Prince, op. cit. (67). All are quoted in James, op. cit. (17), n. 15, 161–2.

162  James, op. cit. (67), 366; original emphasis. See also James, op. cit. (116), 282, 295, 298.

163  James to Bergson, 28 July 1908, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), xi, 62. I discuss intimate international pragmatist communities in Bordogna, ‘Local internationalism: a turn-of-the-twentieth-century pragmatist network’, HSS, 2005; idem, ‘L'Hotel Pragmatista: Viaggi, Scienza, e filosofia,’ in Studi Sul 900 Toscano Offerti a Giorgio Luti (ed. E. Ghidetti and A. Nozzoli), Firenze, 2006, 1–26.

164  See e.g. James, Talks to Teachers, op. cit. (16), 151.

165  James, op. cit. (116), Appendix iii, 295, Appendix ii, 276.

166  See Coon, op. cit. (27), especially 83, 88.

167  ‘Damn great empires! Including that of the Absolute’. James to Elizabeth Evans, 15 February 1901, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), ix, 422.

168  James, op. cit. (94), 145.

169  James, op. cit. (67), 372, 415.

170  James to W. D. Howells, 13 November 1907, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), xi, 478–9.

171  H. G. Wells, A Modern Utopia, London, 1905, 20.

172  James, ‘The moral equivalent of war’ (1st edn 1910), in Essays in Religion, op. cit. (123), 170. ‘Stroke upon stroke, from pens of genius, the competitive regime, so idolized 75 years ago, seems to be getting wounded to death. What will follow will be something better, but I never saw so clearly the slow effect of [the] accumulation of the influence of successive individuals in changing prevalent ideals. Wells and Dickinson will undoubtedly make the greatest steps of change’. Quoted in Schirmer, op. cit. (21), 443.

173  James believed that vigorous men of genius could help the demolition of the ‘competitive régime’. See William James to Henry James, 19 December 1908, in Correspondence, op. cit. (2), iii.

174  The argument of ‘The moral equivalent of war’ was gendered. For a defence of James's view on women see Miller, op. cit. (26), Chapter 3; C. H. Seigfried, Pragmatism and Feminism, Chicago, 1996. On this text see also McClay, op. cit. (7), 33–4.

175  James, op. cit. (172), 171–2.

176  James quoted from H. G. Wells, First and Last Things: A Confession of Faith and a Rule of Life, New York, 1908.

177  James, op. cit. (172), 172, 173.

My thanks to George Cotkin, Ed Jurkowitz, T. W. Heyck, David Leary and Alex Owen, Simon Schaffer and the anonymous readers for their rich suggestions. Different sections of this article were presented at the Alice Berline Kaplan Center for the Humanities at Northwestern University, at the Cambridge University History and Philosophy of Science Colloquium, at the University of Chicago Colloquium for the History of the Human Science, and at the 2005 Cheiron meeting. I would like to thank all the participants for their insightful comments.

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