In this episode, my guest Dr. John Shook helps us get acquainted with one of the leading figures in psychology and philosophy in the 20th century, William James. We talk about emotions, the brain and pragmatism. You can find Dr. Shook on Youtube by searching for "John Shook Humanism" or contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The book can be found on Amazon, here.
PART 1: grand truthsWe have become really good during our post-structuralist, deconstructionist era of pointing out the flaws in broad concepts of truth or good. Instead, we now champion individuals over collective identity… unless that collective identity is for individuals. So, big generalized broad-brush truths usually give way to individual truths: my truth is not your truth, my good is not your good. And if your truth is not my truth, then is it actually TRUTH? Not in the classical definition of being in accordance with fact or reality.Using "Hot Fuzz" as an example, when we agree upon a single version of the good, it becomes a tribal moral imperative. Yet, the only thing that lets us build massive dense cities and have national goals and interests is, as Yuval Noah Harari says in "Sapiens," is a shared ideology... or some might say, a shared truth, or a shared "good."But shared truths have led to the inquisition and National Socialist Germany and White Supremacy. Philosophers have worked hard to chip away at these "common sense truths" by showing how bias determines outcomes, and we have developed this hard work of deconstructing "truths" or "power" into a social prestige game.And now, we are feeling the effects of this clever ability, as our stability erodes.“The thing about civilization is, it keeps you civil. You get rid of one, you can’t count on the other. People are tribal. The more settled things are, the bigger the tribes can be. The churn comes, and the tribes get small again”Amos Burton in "The Expanse" So, societally, we are in a conundrum of needing a big truth to keep the small fractious tribes from ripping apart civilization. We can try for "fighting climate change" but so far that has only gained marginal success over 30 years having to battle against individual desire and corporate growth.InterludeI did an art show called “The Idyll” in 2015, where the premise was Science & Math as a religion. The take away is that we don't understand science, yet declare it as truth, outsourcing our belief to others, and championing a set of goals and believing aesthetics of intelligence.PART II: some historyI heard a youtube video where Ray Monk gave a breakdown of the Philosophy of math, but it really looked at notions of truth and objectivity. We walk through Pythagoras, his mystical math cult, the problems with arithmetic, and how geometry became the Ideal Forms according to Plato. And, of course, how our world is a lame shadow compared to the perfect realm, which can be approached through logic and reason.This realm is objective and determines our flawed world, but Aristotle refutes this idea of math as coming "before" reality, saying we apply it to objects in reality, as it is a "property" of the objects. Yet, this is declared "subjective" by Frege, as he says we choose how to apply it.Eventually, Kant comes along with analytical propositions and synthetic propositions. Analytic statements are true by definition, it is necessarily true, such as “all bachelors are male” versus synthetic statements where you pair things that are different. Kant generates another way of knowing: A priori and a posteriori (before or after). But "math" is an odd "synthetic a priori" … there are charts on the website you can find to help explain this. So, all this work, and we are back to a SUBJECTIVE TRUTH, where we filter the world through our 'lens' of truth or math.The reason I find all this important to understand TRUTH is because we are witnessing a pendulum swing of positions: "It is Absolute and Objective." "No, it is Subjective and applied to the world by people." PART III: PragmatismOne fascinating aspect of the TRUTH that we should keep in mind, is almost no one cares what Kant or Plato or Aristotle say about anything. Truth is built mostly on consensus and intersubjectivity. So, while people will argue about God all day and say it is "Truth," it definitionally can't be true if it is arguable.Inconceivable! Vizzini, Princess Bride Yet, this has a precedent: Plato invented this realm of the absolute with perfect FORMS, and over time this attempt to prove an absolute realm as the source of TRUE. This occupied and warped some of the most brilliant thinkers in the world, especially when it got conflated with God. Just look at Hegel or Heidegger. (Honestly, it is just too smart for me.) Rationalism worked to prove that there was the absolute, an all-knower. William James, was a pragmatist, and leaned more into empiricism, pushing back against rationalism. When speaking of the “absolute” or “religious experience” he didn’t deny it existed, he instead offered a metaphor for what it actually does, how it works in reality.He tried to find a middle ground to focus on what works in our daily lives. What good is ivory tower philosophy when it can’t be instrumentalized? What good is Heidegger? At what point have we descended into “vicious intellectualism”? James says we come laden with lots of “common sense” truths… that aren’t true. These are handed off to us by parents and society. But overtime we grow, “grafting” the new truth onto our existing beliefs, assimilating them by rationalizing them.James, also a psychologist, says TRUTH is part of a thought pattern that must be validated and verifiable... and it must be put up for scrutiny. Truth: Must be fact,It must have Relations to provable ideas (such as math), andprove useful to our reality and “lead to useful consequences.”So, while your ideas must work in reality, you don’t get to make up your own truths. Your ideas must be practical, useful, and have utility. And this is key… these ideas you hold, even if not useful, may not be immediately harmful to you, but they are not of the “good.” He says Truths are “good” because we can “ride” on them into the future without being unpleasantly surprised. The benefit of truths is theylead us into useful verbal and conceptual quarters as well as directly up to useful sensible termini. They lead to consistency, stability and flowing human intercourse. They lead away from excentricity and isolation, from foiled and barren thinking”William James
William James' The Moral Equivalent of War | The New Thinkery Ep. 25
The New Thinkery
In this week's episode of The New Thinkery, the guys discuss William James, one of the leading proponents of American pragmatism, on the question of whether our warlike passions can have a peaceful political outlet. Stay tuned to see which 2020 presidential candidate had a policy proposal in alignment with some of James' thoughts.
And now for something different: Fall 1983 Southern University A & M Baton Rouge, LA. Off the Mighty Mississippi river, the dorm was William James Hall. The room was 219. Floating out for this room was an abundance of jazz, day and night. Depending on what time of day it was and who was manning the cassette player would decide what tunes you could here. Entering the room was class time. Even if it was not an official class, there were lessons to be learned. Influenced by Detroit's legendary WJZZ, the instructors would pass around knowledge. From funky to smooth, from traditional to vocalese, it was played in 219. Here is a tribute to those instructors that lived in 219 William James and the knowledge that they pass to us. The Essence: Deodato: Also Sprach Zarathustra The Crusaders: Rodeo Drive (High Steppin') George Benson: California Dreamin' Grover Washington Jr: Soulful Strut The Rippingtons: Indian Summer (feat. Russ Freeman) Bobbi Humphrey: Harlem River Drive Lee Ritenour: Lil' Bumpin' Stanley Turrentine: Gibraltar Gerry Mulligan: Goin' Out of My Head George Benson & Al Jarreau: Breezin' Marion Meadows: Just in Time Herbie Hancock: Chameleon Tania Maria: Come With Me Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass: A Taste of Honey Fourplay: 101 Eastbound Alexander Zonjic: N'Est Ce Pas Ronnie Laws: Always There Jeff Lorber: Rain Dance Spyro Gyra: Morning Dance Donald Byrd: (Falling Like) Dominoes Stanley Clarke: East River Drive Thanks for listening and be sure to share the music with your friends. Download a copy and share with like minded people. Android Nation! Get the KEWL Lounge app in your Google Play store, Free! From the comfort of your smart phone, tablet, & computer quick access to all things KEWL in the KEWL Lounge. Websites, music, podcast, store, Facebook, Twitter, and contact info all in one app. Listen to the KEWL Lounge 24/7 KEWL Music 4 KEWL People http://www.kewllounge.net Click on, Tune in & B KEWL!!!
The Christian Psychologist Who Owned Darwin: William James
Chat for God
William James (1842-1910) was a Christian intellectual who smashed the Darwinian galaxy brains with facts and logic. He showed that Science ultimately rests on Faith and genuine Christian faith is more rational than atheist Science worship.➡️ The Will to Believe by William James➡️ Contact me or submit questions you want me to answer on the podcast at otherlife.co/contact.
The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) is the groundbreaking book featured in this episode of Backlisted. Joining John and Andy to discuss this influential study of philosophy, psychology and faith - and the life and beliefs of its author, whose younger brother was the novelist Henry James - is John Williams, daily books editor and a staff writer at the New York Times.
Robert D. Richardson – “Ralph Waldo Emerson and William James”
Spiritual Illuminations with Jeff Carreira
In this episode, recorded over a decade ago, Jeff Carreira speaks with the biographer Robert Richardson, who died last month. In this conversation he discusses his writings on Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and William James. Richardson devoted 10 years to researching and writing each of these three biographies and each presents a detailed picture that brings the personalities of these men and their achievements vividly to life. In the wake of his recent passing, we want to honor Robert D. Richardson by offering this interview for you to listen to and enjoy.
In this episode, Kelly Dean Jolley (Auburn University) talks with Ed Mooney, professor Emeritus of Syracuse University, about William James and two of James' essays, Is Life Worth Living? and The Will to Believe.
If you liked this Bonus Episode, check out: Applying the writings and philosophies of William James to addiction and Alcoholics Anonymous, by Edward Mendelowitz, Ph.D. (from Society for Humanistic Psychology Newsletter - Oct. 2017) Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, by William James (a series of 20 lectures on 'natural theology' that psychologist/philosopher William James, from Harvard, conducted at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, from 1901-1902) Spiritual, Not Religious Experience BIG BOOK THEOLOGY: “WE AGNOSTICS” and William James, by James R. Cravings for Deliverance: How William James, the Father of American Psychology, Inspired Alcoholics Anonymous, by Paul Schulte--- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/unboxinggod/support