“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second”

by chuckofish

“I am done with great things and big things, great institutions and big success, and I am for those tiny, invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man’s pride.”

–William James

Today is the birthday of William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) who was an American philosopher and psychologist and a teacher (among his students at Harvard were Theodore Roosevelt, W.E.B. Du Bois, Gertrude Stein, and George Santayana). He was also the brother of Henry James. His godfather was Ralph Waldo Emerson! He went in the spring of 1865 on a scientific expedition up the Amazon River with Louis Agassiz! He is considered to be one of the major figures associated with the philosophical school known as pragmatism,  and is also cited as one of the founders of functional psychology.

Although I cannot say I have read widely in his work or am an expert on William James, I aways liked him.

“Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day. That is, be systematically ascetic or heroic in little unnecessary points, do every day or two something for no other reason than that you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test. So with the man who has daily inured himself to habits of concentrated attention, energetic volition, and self-denial in unnecessary things. He will stand like a tower when everything rocks around him, and when his softer fellow-mortals are winnowed like chaff in the blast.”


What a good face.

He always seemed to have a lot of common sense. And he understood the importance of just being kind.

So I will toast William James tonight. Join me, right?


The humble James plot in Cambridge Cemetery