This essay is intended to expand on the oral presentation given on August 14, 2019, specifically focusing on the concepts of American philosopher and psychologist, William James, and the application of these concepts to modem American psychology. The essay is presented as first person William James who announced his ideas through time travel.
My dear colleagues. What a joy it is to see all of you assembled from around the world. And you all identify yourself as psychologists. Amazing!! As you might know, I formed the first psychology program when I was a faculty member at Harvard – you know that educational institutions just down the road from you in Cambridge. I had been wandering around in my life as a physician – and not a very good one—and then as an instructor in philosophy. I was somewhat more successful in this endeavor.
I suspect I never would have gotten very far in my career as a university professor if it wasn’t for the prominence and esteem in which people of some influence held my father. It probably didn’t hurt that my brother was a quite successful writer. I wonder if his novels are still being read. Actually, I am even more interested in knowing if my own writings about psychology are still being read?
Psychology as an American Thing
And to think that psychology as a discipline has entered the world of Asia. I always thought that Psychology was very much an American thing. You know, a strong dose of pragmatism—what can we do to fix things!! And it is all about the spirit and identify of the individual. I have no patience for the kind of heavy-handed theology being preached by Jonathan Edwards and his kind. They are all about the limits of human choice and human destiny. They think that some God in the sky has complete claim over their soul. I firmly believe that the primary function of human consciousness is making choices. We are fully free to determine our own destiny. We are conscious human beings precisely because we must make choices and must take actions based on these choices. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – more important than the human ability to select our own pathway. If there is a God and if that God is benevolent then he or she wants us to live in freedom and has granted us the dignity to live with the challenge of choice. I find this basic tenant to be of utmost importance.