He had decided that it was insufficient for him to do first-rate work.All this is indicative of three things: the family’s remarkable support for his aspirations; his own quest to achieve excellence; and his restless, indecisive difficulty in remaining committed to a career path. In response to President Lincoln’s call for volunteers, James committed himself to a short-term enlistment.Alice was adept at handling his neurotic obsessions and emotional moodiness, and they seem to have had a good marriage, living comfortably in Cambridge.
The next year, he became an instructor of anatomy and physiology.
By the mid-eighteen-seventies, he was teaching psychology there, using the physiological approach he had learned in Germany and establishing the first psychology laboratory in America.
He started down the road to recovery, though the remainder of his life would be plagued by seemingly psychosomatic troubles (serious eye strain, mysterious back pains, digestive problems, and periods of exhaustion, as well as chronic mood swings, including times of brooding depression).
Unfortunately, he still lacked a constructive career goal.
Born in New York City on January 11, 1842, William James was the oldest of the five children of Henry James, Sr., and Mary Walsh James.
His oldest brother, Henry James, Jr., the renowned writer of fiction, was followed by two other brothers and a sister.
William James is considered by many to be the most insightful and stimulating of American philosophers, as well as the second of the three great pragmatists (the middle link between Charles Sanders Peirce and John Dewey).
As a professor of psychology and of philosophy at Harvard University, he became the most famous living American psychologist and later the most famous living American philosopher of his time.
By the end of that same year, James’s neurological symptoms had become worse.
His training in hard science was making it impossible for him to believe in human freedom and, thus, in the value of struggling for moral ideals; the despair of materialism was leading him to the depression of determinism.