Portrait of William James

William James

Philosopher, Historian, and Psychologist
January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910

William James was an American philosopher, historian, 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 19th 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. 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. He wrote widely on many topics, including epistemology, education, metaphysics, psychology, religion, and mysticism. Among his most influential books are The Principles of Psychology, a groundbreaking 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.

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Mentioned in 36 documents

Terence McKenna

A Crisis in Consciousness

Terence argues that a solution to our collective planetary crisis has emerged, and it lies in a commitment to shamanistic, feminized, cybernetic, and caring forms of being—to take what each of us is in our very best moments and extend it to fill whole lifetimes.

Terence McKenna

A Weekend with Terence McKenna

“Healing the inner elf through trance, dance, and diet”—the session for true McKenna enthusiasts: twelve hours with the bard himself, in which he touches upon practically all of his trademark topics.

Ram Dass

Be Here Now

This book is a classic text on Hindu spirituality that bloomed open like a lotus flower in the wake of the hippie movement. The seed for this book was planted in the mind of Harvard psychiatrist turned Indian mystic, Ram Dass, and was written—with the blessings of his guru Neem Karoli Baba—for a Western audience who were, for the most part, materially rich but spiritually poor. Be Here Now offers its readers and followers a drug-free alternative for attaining higher states of consciousness, while its simple message to live in the present encourages the pursuit and cultivation of inner peace.

Alan Watts

Birth, Death, and the Unborn

All the patterns we see around us in the world are projections of our minds. There is no way things should be, there is no way things shouldn’t be. But if humans can adopt a mental discipline in which they remain able to project patterns without becoming hung up on them, life for everyone will transform into a beautiful artwork.

Terence McKenna

Countdown Into Complexity

At his weekend workshop Terence led attendees on an intellectual odyssey traversing psychedelics, virtual reality, technology, culture, spirituality, and the evolution of novelty over time. Blending philosophy, futurology, and mysticism, he explored humanity's relationship with nature and machines, challenging participants to think critically, create freely, and keep an open mind. The goal was to expand consciousness and uncover deeper truths about existence.

Russell Ackoff

From Mechanistic to Systemic Thinking

Presented at the Systems Thinking in Action conference, Ackoff states that humanity is in the early stage of a transition from the Machine Age to the Systems Age. The Machine Age was characterized by belief in complete understandability of the universe, analysis as a method of inquiry, and cause and effect as a sufficient relationship to explain all. The dilemma that disrupted such beliefs was systems thinking. The Machine Age began to die when humanity gave up the principle of understandability. Gradually, it’s become accepted that there can be no complete understanding of the universe because nothing can be understood independently of its environment—all is environmentally relative. While analysis produces knowledge, it is synthesis that produces understanding. Furthermore, the Systems Age recognizes that cause and effect is just one way of looking at reality among an infinite number.

Terence McKenna

In the Valley of Novelty

Journeying through multiple dimensions of psychedelic consciousness, Terence McKenna's visionary weekend workshop invites us on an entheogenic voyage to the frontiers of the mind and its imminent conquering of matter. Blending scientific insights with shamanic wisdom, McKenna argues that natural plant medicines like psilocybin and DMT provide portals into mystical realms and alien dimensions, catalyzing revelations about nature, reality, and the human psyche. He urges us to courageously explore these consciousness-expanding substances, seeking the gratuitous beauty and truths they unveil. For McKenna, the psychedelic experience holds secrets to our world and ourselves—if only we dare lift the veil.

Alan Watts

Individual and the World

This seminar covers a variety of topics, from the illusion of our separation from the environment and the futility of trying to be genuine, all the way to the discipline required to handle mystical experiences in order to bring something back from them to share with the rest of the world. The presentation ends with his endorsement of insanity, saying a healthy amount of craziness in old age is necessary to prepare for a joyous death.

Terence McKenna

Intentionality of Meaning

McKenna takes us on a mind-bending ride about language, questioning if words unveil reality or cloak it. He suggests peering behind the linguistic curtain with nature and psychedelics, helping reveal life's magical depths where fairies and elves await to make deals that unleash self-transforming possibilities. But he cautions, the storytelling mushrooms can dupe you with their wit. Tread lightly.

Charles Scott Sherrington

Man on his Nature

Sherrington had long studied the 16th century French physician Jean Fernel, and grew so familiar with him that he considered him a friend. In the years of 1937 and 1938, Sherrington delivered the Gifford lectures at the University of Edinburgh; these focused on Fernel and his times, and came to form the principal content of Man on His Nature. The book was released in 1940, and a revised edition came out in 1951. It explores philosophical thoughts about the mind, the human existence, and God, in connection with natural theology. In his ideas on the mind and cognition, Sherrington introduced the idea that neurons work as groups in a "million-fold democracy" to produce outcomes rather than with central control.

Gregory Stock

Metaman

In this visionary book, Gregory Stock gives us a new way of understanding our world and our future. He develops the provocative thesis that human society has become an immense living being: a global superorganism in which we humans, knitted together by our modern technology and communication, are like the cells in an animal's body. Drawing on impressive research, Stock shows this newly formed superorganism to be more than metaphor: it is an actual living creature, which he has named Metaman, meaning beyond and transcending humans.

Alfred North Whitehead

Modes of Thought

Whitehead believed that reality consisted of organic processes within processes, all interrelated and overlapping. These processes are the basis on which human experience, conscious and otherwise, becomes an ongoing center of integrated and novel freedom. In this collection of lectures he urges us to consider “Importance” as an ultimate notion underlying our impulse to create the various modes and sub-generalities of thought which guide our planning and acting.

Alan Watts

Myth of Myself

The ferryboat philosopher riffs on how we're not skin bags with an “I” inside, but the whole cosmos peeking out! Says we feel separate because we ignore our cosmic “floodlight” consciousness. But we're waves in the ocean, apples on the tree. Realizing this brings real joy.

Terence McKenna

Permitting Smart People to Hope

Delivered at Esalen in California, McKenna traipses through a mélange of scientific and technological folderol—the detection of the top quark, swift progress on sequencing the human genome, newfangled theories about the origin of the moon, quantum bafflements like non-locality, the proliferation of the interwebs and information technology, speculations on the nature of time from that Prigogine fellow, and sundry other bamboozlements. He elucidates how these breakthroughs in diverse fields might converge to profoundly transform human civilization, culture, and consciousness in the imminent future.

Ram Dass

Promises and Pitfalls of the Spiritual Path

Alan Watts

Psychology of Mystical Experience

Alan Watts

Psychotherapy and Metaphysics

This seminar explores the concept of consciousness and its limitations. Watts discusses the lack of depth in certain analytical approaches, highlighting the need for individuals to find harmony with life and death. He emphasizes the enrichment that comes from realizing the significance of everything and the potential healing effects of altering our state of consciousness. Watts also touches on the influence of scientific naturalism on modern psychiatry and shares a personal account of a transformative experience.

Alan Watts

Pursuit of Pleasure

Where does pleasure come from? What are we trying to achieve in our frantic day-to-day activities? Why are we in such a hurry? And why do all of our efforts to pin the universe down and bring it under our control dial up the misery?

Alan Watts

Q and A With God

After discussing the nature of consciousness, the human mind, and the philosophical viewpoint that every person is God, Alan Watts assumes the role of God himself for the latter half of this lecture, answering each question his audience serves with wit and insight.

Aldous Huxley

Realizing Human Potential

What untapped gifts lie dormant within us? Aldous Huxley digs for hidden treasure in the human psyche. He proposes mining the world's traditions to unearth practical techniques for actualizing our latent potential. From revamping education for enhanced perception and creativity, to fostering awareness and kindness, Huxley lays out a thought-provoking vision for human flourishing.

Ludwig von Bertalanffy

Robots, Men, and Minds

Based on lectures delivered as The Inaugural Lectures in The Heinz Werner Lecture Series at Clark University (Worcester, Mass.) in January 1966, the book introduces new conceptions of humans and their world. After discussing the advantages and drawbacks of humanity's propensity for the symbolic construction of reality, it focuses on the systems approach to an understanding of the species. The author warns against the common error of identifying cybernetics with general systems theory. No matter how complex the cybernetic system, it "can always be resolved into feedback circuits" and thought of in terms of "linear causality." The regulative behavior of general systems is determined by goal-directed, dynamic interaction between many forces and variables in an open system. Bertalanffy points out that "no comprehensive theory of systems exists today." As a model, however, the approach has many advantages, such as obviating the need for the "ghost in the machine" and suggesting some solutions to the mind-body problem.

Terence McKenna

Shedding the Monkey

Presented at the Shared Visions bookstore.

Christof Koch

The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness

The science of consciousness has made great strides by focusing on the behavioral and neuronal correlates of experience. However, such correlates are not enough if we are to understand even basic facts. Moreover, correlates are of little help in many instances where we would like to know if consciousness is present: patients with a few remaining islands of functioning cortex, pre-term infants, non-mammalian species, and machines that are rapidly outperforming people at driving, recognizing faces and objects, and answering difficult questions. To address these issues, we need a theory of consciousness–one that says what experience is and what type of physical systems can have it.

Alan Watts

The Joyous Cosmology

The Joyous Cosmology is Alan Watts’ exploration of the insight that the consciousness-changing drugs LSD, mescaline and psilocybin can facilitate when accompanied with sustained philosophical reflection by a person who is in search, not of kicks, but of understanding. More than an artifact, it is both a riveting memoir of Alan’s personal experiments and a profound meditation on our perennial questions about the nature of existence and the existence of the sacred.

Terence McKenna

The Psychedelic Society

One of Terence's early presentations at Esalen—shocking, astounding, and amusing his audience with outlandish ideas.

Timo Järvilehto

The Theory of the Organism-Environment System

In any functional sense, organism and environment are inseparable and form only one unitary system. The organism cannot exist without the environment, and the environment has descriptive properties only if it is connected to the organism. Separation of organism and environment cannot be the basis of any scientific explanation of human behavior. The theory leads to a reinterpretation of basic problems in many fields of inquiry and makes possible the definition of mental phenomena without their reduction either to neural or biological activity or to separate mental functions. According to the theory, mental activity is activity of the whole organism-environment system, and the traditional psychological concepts describe only different aspects of organization of this system.

Aldous Huxley

The Ultimate Revolution

Huxley outlines what society’s ultimate revolution would look like: a scientific dictatorship where people will be conditioned to enjoy their servitude, and who will pose little opposition to the ruling oligarchy, as he puts it. He also takes a moment to compare his book Brave New World to George Orwell’s 1984, and considers the technique in the latter too outdated for actual implementation. Delivered at the UC Berkeley Language Center.

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan

The Varieties of Scientific Experience

Carl Sagan's prescient exploration of the relationship between religion and science, and his personal search for God.

Terence McKenna

The World and its Double

This workshop, held at the Nature Friends Lodge, revolves around how psychedelics dissolve boundaries, connect us to the transcendental, and reveal the novel realities underlying our perceived mundane existence. Terence explores how shamanic techniques give access to higher dimensions of consciousness, and describes history as an ever-accelerating process approaching an eschatological transformation or singularity.

Alan Watts

This Is It

Six revolutionary essays exploring the relationship between spiritual experience and ordinary life—and the need for them to coexist within each of us. With essays on “cosmic consciousness” (including Alan Watts’ account of his own ventures into this inward realm); the paradoxes of self-consciousness; LSD and consciousness; and the false opposition of spirit and matter, This Is It and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience is a truly mind-opening collection.

David Sloan Wilson

This View of Life

It is widely understood that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution completely revolutionized the study of biology. Yet, according to David Sloan Wilson, the Darwinian revolution won’t be truly complete until it is applied more broadly—to everything associated with the words “human,” “culture,” and “policy.” In a series of engaging and insightful examples—from the breeding of hens to the timing of cataract surgeries to the organization of an automobile plant—Wilson shows how an evolutionary worldview provides a practical tool kit for understanding not only genetic evolution but also the fast-paced changes that are having an impact on our world and ourselves. What emerges is an incredibly empowering argument: If we can become wise managers of evolutionary processes, we can solve the problems of our age at all scales—from the efficacy of our groups to our well-being as individuals to our stewardship of the planet Earth.

Alan Watts

Turning the Head, or Turning On

Talking to an audience at San José State University, Alan Watts recounts the first time he tried consciousness-altering substances after meeting Aldous Huxley. He argues that Western society largely isn’t ready for the mystical experience which can be triggered in these mental states, but nonetheless advocates for them, as they may arouse positive transformation in the human collectivity.

Terence McKenna

Understanding and Imagination in the Light of Nature

The Great Mystery whispers through psychedelics as it unfurls revelations beyond language’s grasp. Here, ego-bound shells crack open as cosmic minds reborn beyond confines of space and time. We thus commune with the endless Imagination—holographic spirit-stuff whereof worlds are wrought. Invariants of the eternal suffuse temporal shadow-play, the mundane ever aflame in subtler dimensions. All form awakens, ascends, drawn unto consummate transcendence as history’s fever dream blossoms into timeless infinitude.

Aldous Huxley

Visionary Experience

Presented at the 14th Annual Congress of Applied Psychology. Aldous Huxley had been invited to the symposium by Timonthy Leary and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass). The two had met some months earlier, when Tim invited the author of the first two major works of modern psychedelic literature (The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell) to participate in the Harvard research program. Huxley agreed and was “Subject no.11” in a group psilocybin session run by Leary in November 1960.

Aldous Huxley

Who Are We?

A lecture held at the Vedanta Society of Southern California’s Hollywood temple, in which Huxley goes into some depth about core issues about human existence, asking the primal question: what is our true nature?

Ram Dass

Who Are You

Ram Dass discusses the illusion of identity and attachment. He examines different levels of consciousness, from the egoic thinking mind to universal oneness. Dass encourages living fully while cultivating spacious awareness, embracing all of life's experiences as opportunities for awakening. He emphasizes being present, listening deeply, and recognizing the perfection underlying apparent imperfection.