• A. J. Ayer


Although William James, who lived from 1842 to 1910, was only a slightly younger man than Peirce and almost his contemporary at Harvard, he occupies a distinctly later position in the history of Pragmatism. There was an interval of thirty years between the appearance of Peirce’s early pragmatist papers and the publication, under the title of Pragmatism, of a series of ‘popular lectures on philosophy’ by William James, which were mainly responsible for bringing the pragmatist movement for the first time into the foreground of the philosophical scene. One reason for this delay was that James was late in developing into a professional philosopher. He took a medical degree, though he never practised medicine, and entered academic life in 1872 as an instructor in physiology at Harvard, where he remained for the rest of his career, becoming a lecturer in psychology in 1876 and a professor of philosophy in 1880. His reputation was made by his first and major work, The Principles of Psychology, which appeared in two large volumes in 1890. This book, which uniquely combines a physiological with a philosophical approach to the traditional problems of psychology, remains a classic, and is probably the best general review of the subject that has yet been written.


Pragmatic Theory Professional Philosopher Radical Empiricism Hegelian Dialectic Discursive Thought 
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Copyright information

© A. J. Ayer 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. Ayer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OxfordOxfordUK

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