Penn State

P. Karen Murphey - Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, Penn State University Park

Book Title: The Writings of William James: A Comprehensive Edition

Author: William James, Ed. John J. McDermott

Book Description:

On rare occasions, I come across individuals whose thinking shakes the very foundation of what I know and believe. The writings of William James have, on repeated occasions, done just that. I have been influenced both personally and professionally by James's writings on habit and the stream of consciousness. In my work as an educator and psychologist, I often reflect on James's quote regarding habit and choices, "Habit is thus the enormous fly-wheel of society, its most precious conservative agent. It dooms us all to fight out the battle of life upon the lines of our nature or our early choice, and to make the best of a pursuit that disagrees, because there is no other for which we are fitted, and it is too late to begin again."

I have chosen this particular edited volume of James's works because it was compiled and edited by John J. McDermott. Nearly a decade ago, McDermott introduced me and several other scholars-in-training to the great American philosophers, and that experience literally transformed my thinking. As such, I thought it fitting to dedicate this volume of James's work, edited by my friend John McDermott, as a small way of paying homage to two intellectual giants of modern times.


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