The Dynamic Individualism of William James

William James

James O. Pawelski

The Dynamic Individualism of William James analyzes James’s rich and complex thought through an examination of his individualism.  As a central theme of James’s writings, individualism underlies his basic views on freedom, society, government, psychology, education, religion, pragmatism, and metaphysics, yet there have been no careful studies of this important aspect of his 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 James, and, in seeking to resolve James’s own psychology, presents an original and convincing case for James’s dynamic individualism.

“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.

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

Now out in paperback. Available from

Buy Now