More James's Psychology: Self and Will (Part One)

Jan 01, 2018, 06:27 AM

On Psychology, the Briefer Course (1892), chapters on "The Self," "Will," and "Emotions."

Continuing from ep. 179, we talk about the various aspects of self: The "Me" (the part of me that I know) that's divided into physical, social, and spiritual aspects, and the "I" (the part of me that has experiences), which is pretty problematic, but which we need not posit as a "soul," but which should play some role in the problem of what unifies experience over time so that we consider it all belonging to the same person.

Part 2 will cover James's influential theory of emotions, which suggests that an emotion is just our experience of certain physical feelings: Danger gives rise to increased heart rate, dry mouth, etc., and we feel those changes and call them "fear." We then turn to James's take on what willing is and how willed acts differ from reflex and habitual acts. This gets us going on animal consciousness, ethics, and of course free will.

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