William James Essay by JPWrite

William James
This paper discusses the meaning of truth as presented by American psychologist and philosopher William James.
# 66428 | 1,300 words | 4 sources | MLA | 2005 | US
Published on Jun 11, 2006 in Philosophy (Science) , Philosophy (History - 19th Century) , Psychology (Theory)

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This paper explains that William James differs from other philosophers throughout history who seem to create a set of criteria for the establishment of truth; instead, James suggests the expediency of a true idea. The author points out that the fact that James discusses doubt and inquiry goes with his own overall pragmatic theories; therefore, any idea that "works" in any desired manner is to that extent true, which dissents from Aristotle's theory of truth. The paper stresses that there is no doubt that James in his own pragmatic and scientific way opened up a Pandora's Box of psychological views of reality, belief and truth.

From the Paper:

"James seems to believe that it is the consequences, not past "truths" that determine the truth or falsity of a belief, a theory, or a statement. He contradicts the ages-old concept by arguing that "Those who contend that knowledge results wholly from the experiences of the individual, ignoring as they do the mental evolution which accompanies the autogenous development of the nervous system, fall into an error as great as if they were to ascribe all bodily growths to exercise, forgetting the innate tendency to assume the adult form." Does this mean that as we grow, as our emotions change, our truths change? For instance, if a little boy says his father is tall, but when the boy reaches adulthood and may be taller than his father, does that mean saying his father is tall is now no longer a truth? Perhaps."

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