On This Day .. 11 January

People (Births)

  • 1842 – William James, American psychologist and philosopher (d. 1910).
  • 1867 – Edward B. Titchener, English psychologist and academic (d. 1927).

People (Deaths)

  • 2007 – Robert Anton Wilson, American psychologist, author, poet, and playwright (b. 1932).

William James

William James (11 January 1842 to 26 August 1910) was an American philosopher and psychologist, and the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States. James is considered to be a leading thinker of the late nineteenth century, one of the most influential philosophers of the United States, and the “Father of American psychology”.

Along with Charles Sanders Peirce, James established the philosophical school known as pragmatism, and is also cited as one of the founders of functional psychology. A Review of General Psychology analysis, published in 2002, ranked James as the 14th most eminent psychologist of the 20th century. A survey published in American Psychologist in 1991 ranked James’s reputation in second place, after Wilhelm Wundt, who is widely regarded as the founder of experimental psychology. James also developed the philosophical perspective known as radical empiricism. James’s work has influenced philosophers and academics such as Émile Durkheim, W.E.B. Du Bois, Edmund Husserl, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Hilary Putnam, Richard Rorty, and Marilynne Robinson.

Born into a wealthy family, James was the son of the Swedenborgian theologian Henry James Sr. and the brother of both the prominent novelist Henry James and the diarist Alice James. James trained as a physician and taught anatomy at Harvard, but never practiced medicine. Instead he pursued his interests in psychology and then philosophy. James wrote widely on many topics, including epistemology, education, metaphysics, psychology, religion, and mysticism. Among his most influential books are The Principles of Psychology, a ground-breaking text in the field of psychology; Essays in Radical Empiricism, an important text in philosophy; and The Varieties of Religious Experience, an investigation of different forms of religious experience, including theories on mind-cure.

Edward B. Titchener

Edward Bradford Titchener (11 January 1867 to 03 August 1927) was an English psychologist who studied under Wilhelm Wundt for several years. Titchener is best known for creating his version of psychology that described the structure of the mind: structuralism. He created the largest doctoral program in the United States (at the time) after becoming a professor at Cornell University, and his first graduate student, Margaret Floy Washburn, became the first woman to be granted a PhD in psychology (1894).

Robert Anton Wilson

Robert Anton Wilson (born Robert Edward Wilson; 18 January 1932 to 11 January 2007) was an American author, futurist and self-described agnostic mystic. Recognised by Discordianism as a Pope and saint, Wilson helped publicise the group through his writings and interviews.

Wilson described his work as an “attempt to break down conditioned associations, to look at the world in a new way, with many models recognised as models or maps, and no one model elevated to the truth”. His goal being “to try to get people into a state of generalised agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone but agnosticism about everything.”

Following a journalistic career, Wilson emerged as a major countercultural figure in the mid-1970s, comparable to one of his co-authors, Timothy Leary, as well as Terence McKenna.

He received a B.A., M.A. (1978) and Ph.D. (1981) in psychology from Paideia University, an unaccredited institution that has since closed. Wilson reworked his dissertation, and it found publication in 1983 as Prometheus Rising.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.