The Routledge Guidebook to James’s Principles of Psychology: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Routledge Guidebook to James’s Principles of Psychology

1st Edition

By David E Leary


364 pages

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The Routledge Guidebook to James’s Principles of Psychology is an engaging and accessible introduction to a monumental text that has influenced the development of both psychological science and philosophical pragmatism in important and lasting ways. Written for readers approaching William James’s classic work for the first time as well as for those without knowledge of its entire scope, this guidebook not only places this work within its historical context, it provides clear explications of its intertwined aspects and arguments, and examines its relevance within today’s psychology and philosophy.

Offering a close reading of this text, The Routledge Guidebook to James’s Principles of Psychology is divided into three main parts:

• Background

• Principles

• Elaborations.

It also includes two useful appendices that outline the sources of James’s various chapters and indicate the parallel coverages of two later texts written by James, an abbreviated version of his Principles and a psychological primer for teachers. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand this influential work.


"Reflecting a lifetime of research and teaching in modern psychology and sympathetic study of its most eloquent writer, David Leary has produced a thorough and readable guide to William James’s classic text. It is a reference guide and more. Leary explains James’s ideas in the contexts of his own development, in the contexts of the emerging New Psychology of the late nineteenth century, and in their creative relation with later psychology and philosophy. This is magisterial coverage of a masterwork."

Paul Croce, Stetson University, USA, and former President of the William James Society

"David Leary’s ground-breaking book walks readers carefully through James’s masterpiece, without losing the forest for the trees. Leary shows us something that has been elusive in the literature: how the Principles of Psychology, with all its rich details, hangs together as a whole."

Alexander Klein, California State University, Long Beach, USA

Table of Contents

Author’s Preface

List of abbreviations

I. Background

Ch. 1 Life and Work

Ch. 2 Substance and Style

Ch. 3 Evidence and Interpretation

Ch. 4 Psychology and Philosophy

II. Principles

Ch. 5 Mind and Body

Ch. 6 Habit and Thought

Ch. 7 Perception and Conception

Ch. 8 Imagination and Memory

Ch. 9 Cognition and Emotion

Ch. 10 Consciousness and Subconsciousness

Ch. 11 Attention and Will

Ch. 12 Self and Others

III. Elaborations

Ch. 13 Belief and Reality

Ch. 14 Known and Unknown

Ch. 15 Publication and Beyond

Ch. 16 Epilogue and Prologue

Appendix A: Sources and Treatments

Appendix B: Coverages and Parallels



About the Author

David E. Leary is University Professor Emeritus and Dean of Arts and Sciences Emeritus at the University of Richmond, USA.

About the Series

The Routledge Guides to the Great Books

The Routledge Guides to the Great Books provide ideal introductions to the texts which have shaped Western Civilization. The Guidebooks explore the arguments and ideas contained in the most influential works from some of the most brilliant thinkers who have ever lived, from Aristotle to Marx and Newton to Wollstonecraft. Each Guidebook opens with a short introduction to the author of the great book and the context within which they were working and concludes with an examination of the lasting significance of the book. The Routledge Guides to the Great Books will therefore provide students everywhere with complete introductions to the most significant books of all time.

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