William James Quotes & Wallpapers

William James
Total Quotes: 809


A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. William James
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Language is the most imperfect and expensive means yet discovered for communicating thought. William James
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The first thing the intellect does with an object is to class it along with something else. But any object that is infinitely important to us and awakens our devotion feels to us also as if it must be sui generis and unique. Probably a crab would be filled with a sense of personal outrage if it could hear us class it without ado or apology as a crustacean, and thus dispose of it. 'I am no such thing,' it would say; 'I am MYSELF, MYSELF alone. William James
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Round about the accredited and orderly facts of every science there ever floats a sort of dust-cloud of exceptional observations, of occurrences minute and irregular and seldom met with, which it always proves more easy to ignore than to attend to... Anyone will renovate his science who will steadily look after the irregular phenomena, and when science is renewed, its new formulas often have more of the voice of the exceptions in them than of what were supposed to be the rules. William James
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...By far the most usual way of handling phenomena so novel that they would make for a serious rearrangement of our preconceptions is to ignore them altogether, or to abuse those who bear witness for them. William James
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The difference between an interesting and a tedious teacher consists in little more than the inventiveness by which the one is able to mediate these associations and connections, and in the dullness in discovering such transitions which the other shows. William James
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Our volitional habits depend, then, first, on what the stock of ideas is which we have; and, second, on the habitual coupling of the several ideas with action or inaction respectively. William James
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The exercise of voluntary attention in the schoolroom must therefore be counted one of the most important points of training that take place there; and the first-rate teacher, by the keenness of the remoter interests which he is able to awaken, will provide abundant opportunities for its occurrence. William James
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There is but one unconditional commandment ... to bring about the very largest total universe of good which we can see. William James
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Good-humor is a philosophic state of mind; it seems to say to Nature that we take her no more seriously than she takes us. I maintain that one should always talk of philosophy with a smile. William James
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The unrest which keeps the never stopping clock of metaphysics going is the thought that the nonexistence of this world is just as possible as its existence. William James
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The most violent revolutions in an individuals beliefs leave most of his old order standing. Time and space, cause and effect, nature and history, and ones own biography remain untouched. New truth is always a go-between, a smoother-over of transitions. It marries old opinion to new fact so as ever to show a minimum of jolt, a maximum of continuity. William James
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Footnotes - little dogs yapping at the heels of the text William James
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Our life is always deeper than we know, is always more divine than it seems, and hence we are able to survive degradations and despairs which otherwise must engulf us. William James
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Most of us can learn to live in perfect comfort on higher levels of power. Everyone knows that on any given day there are energies slumbering in him which the incitements of that day do not call forth. Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. It is evident that our organism has stored-up reserves of energy that are ordinarily not called upon - deeper and deeper strata of explosible material, ready for use by anyone who probes so deep. The human individual usually lives far within his limits. William James
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The war for our Union, with all the constitutional issues which it settled, and all the military lessons which it gathered in, has throughout its dilatory length but one meaning in the eyes of history. It freed the country from the social plague which until then had made political development impossible in the United States. More and more, as the years pass, does the meaning stand forth as the sole meaning. William James
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When a thing is new, people say: 'It is not true.' Later, when its truth becomes obvious, they say: 'It is not important.' Finally, when its importance cannot be denied, they say: 'Anyway, it is not new. William James
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All religions begin with the cry Help. William James
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We forget that every good that is worth possessing must be paid for in strokes of daily effort. We postpone and postpone until those smiling possibilities are dead... By neglecting the necessary concrete labor, by sparing ourselves the little daily tax, we are positively digging the graves of our higher possibilities. William James
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Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. William James
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The impulse to take life strivingly is indestructible in the race. William James
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This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it. William James
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Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not. William James
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We are doomed to cling to a life even while we find it unendurable. William James
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Genius... means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way. William James
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No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one's sentiments may be, if one has not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one's character may remain entirely unaffected for the better. William James
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To spend life for something which outlasts it. William James
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The greatest enemy of any one of our truths may be the rest of our truths. William James
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Science, like life, feeds on its own decay. New facts burst old rules; then newly divined conceptions bind old and new together into a reconciling law. William James
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The mind, in short, works on the data it receives very much as a sculptor works on his block of stone. In a sense the statue stoodthere from eternity. But there were a thousand different ones beside it, and the sculptor alone is to thank for having extricated this one from the rest. William James
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General scepticism is the live mental attitude of refusing to conclude. It is a permanent torpor of the will, renewing itself in detail towards each successive thesis that offers, and you can no more kill it off by logic than you can kill off obstinacy or practical joking. William James
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Intellectualism' is the belief that our mind comes upon a world complete in itself, and has the duty of ascertaining its contents; but has no power of re-determining its character, for that is already given. William James
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The highest flights of charity, devotion, trust, patience, bravery to which the wings of human nature have spread themselves, have been flown for religious ideals. William James
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Psychology ought certainly to give the teacher radical help. William James
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To give the theory plenty of 'rope' and see if it hangs itself eventually is better tactics than to choke it off at the outset b abstract accusations of self-contradiction William James
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It is very important that teachers should realize the importance of habit. William James
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An unlearned carpenter of my acquaintance once said in my hearing: There is very little difference between one man and another; but what little there is, is very important. This distinction seems to me to go to the root of the matter. William James
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Everybody ought to do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice. William James
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Truth is what will be steadily borne out by subsequent experience William James
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True ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate, and verify. False ideas are those that we cannot. That is the practical difference it makes to us to have true ideas; that therefore is the meaning of truth, for it is all that truth is known as. William James
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Each of us is in fact what he is almost exclusively by virtue of his imitativeness. William James
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We forget that every good that is worth possessing must be paid for in strokes of daily effort. We postpone and postpone, until those smiling possibilities are dead. William James
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A new position of responsibility will usually show a man to be a far stronger creature than was supposed. William James
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Habit is thus the enormous fly-wheel of society, its most precious conservative agent. It alone is what keeps us all within the bounds of ordinance, and saves the children of fortune from the envious uprisings of the poor. It alone prevents the hardest and most repulsive walks of life from being deserted by those brought up to tread therein. William James
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Serious development of the personality begins at the closet door. William James
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The teachers of this country, one may say, have its future in their hands. William James
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Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed. which give happiness. Thomas Jefferson We never enjoy perfect happiness; our most fortunate successes are mingled with sadness; some anxieties always perplex the reality of our satisfaction. William James
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Impulse without reason is not enough, and reason without impulse is a poor makeshift. William James
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Life is one long struggle between conclusions based on abstract ways of conceiving cases, and opposite conclusions prompted by our instinctive perception of them. William James
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In the practical use of our intellect, forgetting is as important as remembering. William James
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Circumstance does not make me, it reveals me. William James
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Any object not interesting in itself may become interesting through becoming associated with an object in which an interest already exists. The two associated objects grow, as it were, together; the interesting portion sheds its quality over the whole; and thus things not interesting in their own right borrow an interest which becomes as real and as strong as that of any natively interesting thing. William James
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Considering the inner fitness of things, one would rather think that the very first act of a will endowed with freedom should be to sustain the belief in the freedom itself. William James
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Give your dreams all you've got, and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you. William James
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Only necessity understood, and bondage to the highest is identical with true freedom. William James
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Contemporary philosophers, even the rationalistic minded ones, have on the whole agreed that no one has intelligibly banished the mystery of fact. William James
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Effort is a measure of a Man. William James
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A man of sense is never discouraged by difficulties; he redoubles his industry and his diligence, he perseveres and infallibly prevails at last. William James
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We forget that every good that is worth possessing must be paid for in strokes of daily effort. William James
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Equality is attainable as long as you are part of the majority. William James
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Once you accept an idea, it's an idea whose time has come. William James
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Our beliefs are really rules for action. William James
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The greatest empiricists among us are only empiricists on reflection: when left to their instincts, they dogmatize like infallible popes. William James
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To suggest personal will and effort to one all sicklied o'er with the sense of irremediable impotence is to suggest the most impossible of things. What he craves is to be consoled in his very powerlessness, to feel that the spirit of the universe recognizes and secures him, all decaying and failing as he is. William James
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As a rule reading fiction is as hard to me as trying to hit a target by hurling feathers at it. I need resistance to celebrate! William James
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Science herself consults her heart when she lays it down that the infinite ascertainment of fact and correction of false belief are the supreme goods for man. William James
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Faith branches off the highroad before reason begins William James
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Truth, as any dictionary will tell you, is a property of certain of our ideas. It means their agreement, as falsity means their disagreement, with reality. William James
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To some of us the thought of God is like a sort of quiet music playing in the background of the mind. William James
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Philosophy lives in words, but truth and fact well up into our lives in ways that exceed verbal formulation. William James
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