In 1895, William James, the father of American philosophy, delivered a lecture entitled "Is Life Worth Living?" It was no theoretical question for James, who had contemplated suicide during an existential crisis as a young man a quarter century earlier. Indeed, as John Kaag writes, "James's entire philosophy, from beginning to end, was geared to save a life, his life"and that's why it just might be able to save yours, too. Sick Souls, Healthy Minds is a compelling introduction to James's life and thought that shows why the founder of pragmatism and empirical psychologyand an inspiration for Alcoholics Anonymouscan still speak so directly and profoundly to anyone struggling to make a life worth living.
Kaag tells how James's experiences as one of what he called the "sick-souled," those who think that life might be meaningless, drove him to articulate an ideal of "healthy-mindedness"an attitude toward life that is open, active, and hopeful, but also realistic about its risks. In fact, all of James's pragmatism, resting on the idea that truth should be judged by its practical consequences for our lives, is a response to, and possible antidote for, crises of meaning that threaten to undo many of us at one time or another. Along the way, Kaag also movingly describes how his own life has been endlessly enriched by James.
Eloquent, inspiring, and filled with insight, Sick Souls, Healthy Minds may be the smartest and most important self-help book you'll ever read.
|Publisher:||Princeton University Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Table of Contents
Prologue: "A Disgust for Life" 1
1 Determinism and Despair 11
2 Freedom and Life 42
3 Psychology and the Healthy Mind 68
4 Consciousness and Transcendence 94
5 Truth and Consequences 126
6 Wonder and Hope 169
Suggested Reading 197
What People are Saying About This
"Not since Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance have I read such a mesmerizing confluence of personal experience and formal thought as John Kaag's American Philosophy: A Love Story. That combination is on display again in his Sick Souls, Healthy Mindsa brief and powerful book about one of America's most profound minds, William James, and what he can teach us about what makes life worth living."―Robert D. Richardson, author of William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism"In this beautifully written book, which is filled with bracing insights, John Kaag shows why William James has had a deep, life-altering, therapeutic effect on his readers over the past centuryand can continue to have the same effect on new readers today."Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, author of American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas