The Dynamic Individualism of William James

By James O. Pawelski

Subjects: Philosophy, Pragmatism, American Studies, American Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791472408, 206 pages, June 2008
Hardcover : 9780791472392, 206 pages, October 2007

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Abbreviations of the Works of William James

Part I: An Exploration of the Dynamic Individualism of William James
1. External Dimensions of James's Individualism
2. Internal Dimensions of James's Individualism
3. Eternal Dimensions of James's Individualism

Part II: An Interpretation of the Dynamic Individualism of William James

4. Methods of Interpreting James
5. The Integration Thesis

Part III: An Application of the Dynamic Individualism of William James

6. Structured Wholeness: The Integration Thesis in Practice


Explores James’s concept of the individual in terms of physiology, psychology, philosophy, and religion.


The Dynamic Individualism of William James analyzes James's rich and complex thought through an examination of his individualism. A central theme of James's writings, individualism underlies his basic views on freedom, society, government, psychology, education, religion, pragmatism, and metaphysics—yet, until now, no one has undertaken a careful study of this important aspect of James's thought. With close readings of texts that include The Principles of Psychology, The Varieties of Religious Experience, and A Pluralistic Universe, James O. Pawelski engages the range of contexts in which James discusses individualism, offers a refreshingly new reading of his work, and, in seeking to resolve James's own psychology, presents an original and convincing case for his dynamic individualism.

James O. Pawelski is Director of Education and Senior Scholar in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.


"The author draws convincing and original connections among James's psychological, Darwinian biological, epistemological, and religious views. James's individualism marks the sharpest way in which he breaks with the traditions of modern philosophy and Pawelski helps us understand this aspect of James's view." — Harvey Cormier, author of The Truth Is What Works: William James, Pragmatism, and the Seed of Death

"This is an important and needed contribution to the scholarship on James. Pawelski deals firmly and respectfully with existing literature on the topic and balances close textual analysis with a broad assessment of James's career, numerous works, and intellectual development." — Michael J. McGandy, author of The Active Life: Miller's Metaphysics of Democracy