By Jacques Barzun

ISBN-10: 0226038661

ISBN-13: 9780226038667

With this booklet, Jacques Barzun can pay what he describes as an "intellectual debt" to William James—psychologist, thinker, and, for Barzun, advisor and mentor. Commenting on James's lifestyles, inspiration, and legacy, Barzun leaves us with a sensible and civilized distillation of the nice thinker's work.

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So it is advisable and even necessary to begin with appearances we observe in ourselves, and only then go on to assert certain propositions about the nature of man - that is, progress to inner experience. APOLOGY FOR SENSIBILITY § 8. Everyone shows the greatest respect for understanding, as is indicated by the very name we give it - the higher cognitive power. Anyone who wanted to extol it would be dismissed unceremoniously, with the scorn accorded that orator who sang the praises of virtue (stulte!

A man who can relate at length his inner experiences (of grace, temptation) can arrive, after the voyage of discovery he makes to scrutinize himself, only in Anticyra. 6 For these inner experiences differ from outer experience of objects in space, where objects appear juxtaposed and abiding. Inner sense sees the relations of its modifications only in time, and so in flux, where the stability of observation that is necessary for experience is lacking. * • If we consciously represent two acts: [that of] the inner activity (spontaneity) that makes a concept (a thought) possible, or reflection; and [that of] the receptiveness (receptivity) that makes perception - that is, empirical intuitwn - possible, we can then divide our selfconsciousness (apperceptio) into the self-consciousness of reflection and the self-consciousness of apprehension.

This note does not really belong to anthropology. In anthropology, appearances united according to laws of understanding are experiences, and in discussing how we represent things, we do not raise the question 143 of what they are like apart from their relation to the senses (and so in themselves); for this inquiry belongs to metaphysics, which deals with the possibility of knowledge a priori. But it was necessary to go back this far in order to prevent speculative minds from falling into error on this question.

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A Stroll With William James by Jacques Barzun


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