Article ID: CBB920277441

On the Experience of Activity: William James's Late Metaphysics and the Influence of Nineteenth-Century French Spiritualism (2020)


Is there a particular experience-type associated with the exercise of agency? This question was subject to lively philosophical debate in nineteenth-century France. William James paid close attention to these debates, and for most of his academic life argued that the answer was "no." However, in this article, I show that a few years before the end of his life, under the influence of the French spiritualist tradition, he changed his mind. I argue that this change led to a global shift in his philosophical thinking. One major consequence of this is that he modified his philosophy so that it allowed a greater role for "objective" reality, and was consequently at less risk of the charge of "solipsism" directed at him by his critics. After this shift, James's philosophy could stand on much firmer ground.

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Authors & Contributors
Daston, Lorraine J.
Leary, David E.
Satter, Beryl
Simon, Josep
Stuchtey, Benedikt
Collin, Johanne
Pharmacy in History
Gender and History
Archives of Natural History
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Revue d'Histoire des Mathématiques
University of California Press
Oxford University Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
University of Chicago
University of Pennsylvania Press
Manchester University Press
Cross-national interaction
Science and religion
Controversies and disputes
Knowledge circulation
James, William
Ganot, Pierre Benjamin Adolphe
Sowerby, family
Gerville, Charles De
Sowerby, James
Wallace, Alfred Russel
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
20th century
15th century
14th century
Great Britain
United States
Québec (Canada)

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