Things have been busy lately, but I’ve decided to write a bit on all the fascinating things I have been reading for school. The text* for my history of psychology class covers Socrates, Aristotle, Cynicism, Renaissance Humanism, Ptolemy, Francis Bacon, Descartes, Empiricism, Positivism, Spinoza, Kant, Rousseau, Nietzsche… and on and on and on. Impressed? I am. It feels like the philosophy degree I was supposed to get as an undergrad. Now if I can just remember any of it for the midterm.
One figure who does stand out for me is William James. Wikipedia can tell you more about his life than I can, so I’ll get to some points that I liked.
James went through a period of deep depression in his life when he became convinced by some of the prevailing scientific thought of his day (hurrah for dogmatic science, bleh) that everything is predetermined, i.e. there is no free will. He was able to finally break out of this by taking a Kierkegaardian “leap of faith” in free will, and decided he would act from that point forward as if it did exist. This subjective experience cured his depression, and fueled his career as a psychologist and philosopher. Continue reading