Human Immortality: Two Supposed Objections to the Doctrine (Google eBook)

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Cosimo, Inc., Apr 1, 2007 - Philosophy - 84 pages
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Originally a lecture given at Harvard as part of the Ingersoll Lecture on Immortality, this small volume is psychologist William James's updated second edition, which addresses criticisms levied against his original work on the nature of human immortality. James sees the individual soul as part of a greater soul, hidden behind the veil of death. And that greater soul, perhaps God, perhaps an essence that defies description, is eternal. James brings together modern science and mysticism to show his audience that the two are not as incompatible as they might have believed. Spiritual seekers, religious individuals, and even skeptics will find this discussion on the possibility of immortality thought-provoking and electric.American psychologist and philosopher WILLIAM JAMES (1842-1910), brother of novelist Henry James, was a groundbreaking researcher at Harvard University and one of the most popular thinkers of the 19th century. Among his many works are Principles of Psychology (1890) and The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature (1902).
  

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About the author (2007)

William James, oldest of five children (including Henry James and Alice James) in the extraordinary James family, was born in New York City on January 11, 1842. He has had a far-reaching influence on writers and thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Broadly educated by private tutors and through European travel, James initially studied painting. During the Civil War, however, he turned to medicine and physiology, attended Harvard medical school, and became interested in the workings of the mind. His text, The Principles of Psychology (1890), presents psychology as a science rather than a philosophy and emphasizes the connection between the mind and the body. James believed in free will and the power of the mind to affect events and determine the future. In The Will to Believe (1897) and The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), he explores metaphysical concepts and mystical experiences. He saw truth not as absolute but as relative, depending on the given situation and the forces at work in it. He believed that the universe was not static and orderly but ever-changing and chaotic. His most important work, Pragmatism (1907), examines the practical consequences of behavior and rejects the idealist philosophy of the transcendentalists. This philosophy seems to reinforce the tenets of social Darwinism and the idea of financial success as the justification of the means in a materialistic society; nevertheless, James strove to demonstrate the practical value of ethical behavior. Overall, James's lifelong concern with what he called the "stream of thought" or "stream of consciousness" changed the way writers conceptualize characters and present the relationship between humans, society, and the natural world. He died due to heart failure on August 26, 1910.

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