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.