William James

1842 - 1910

A Quote by William James on adoption, chance, community, genius, individuality, justice, life, men, mystery, nations, people, purity, surprises, time, and work

Sporadic great men come everywhere. But for a community to get vibrating through and through with intensely active life, many geniuses coming together and in rapid succession are required. This is why great epochs are so rare, - why the sudden bloom of a Greece, an early Rome, a Renaissance, is such a mystery. Blow must follow blow so fast that no cooling can occur in the intervals. Then the mass of the nation glows incandescent, and may continue to glow by pure inertia long after the originators of its internal movement have passed away. We often hear surprise expressed that in these high tides of human affairs not only the people should be filled with stronger life, but that individual geniuses should seem so exceptionally abundant. This mystery is just about as deep as the time-honored conundrum as to why great rivers flow by great towns. It is true that great public fermentations awaken and adopt many geniuses who in more torpid times would have had no chance to work. But over and above this there must be an exceptional concourse of genius about a time, to make the fermentation begin at all. The unlikeliness of the concourse is far greater than the unlikeliness of any particular genius; hence the rarity of these periods and the exceptional aspect which they always wear.

William James (1842 - 1910)

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William James

Compared to what we ought to be, we are half awake.

William James (1842 - 1910)

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William James on belief, credulity, and needs

Modern man . . . has not ceased to be credulous . . . the need to believe haunts him.

William James (1842 - 1910)

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William James on beginning, belief, and success

Our belief at the beginning of a doubtful undertaking is the one thing that insures the successful outcome of our venture.

William James (1842 - 1910)

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William James on belief, day, fear, learning, and life

They conquer who believe they can. He has not learned the first lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.

William James (1842 - 1910)

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William James on belief, facts, life, and worth

Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.

William James (1842 - 1910)

Source: The Verities of Religious Experience, 1902

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A Quote by William James on agreement, attitude, change, departure, evil, fear, good, men, and simplicity

Much of what we call evil is due entirely to the way men take the phenomenon. It can so often be converted into a bracing and tonic good by a simple change of the sufferer's inner attitude from one of fear to one of fight; its string can so often depart and turn into a relish when, after vainly seeking to shun it, we agree to face about and bear it . . .

William James (1842 - 1910)

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William James on democracy, genius, and people

Democracy is still upon its trial. The civic genius of our people is its only bulwark.

William James (1842 - 1910)

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William James on day, individuality, learning, life, limits, energy, and power

Most of us can learn to live in perfect comfort on higher levels of power. Everyone knows that on any given day there are energies slumbering in him which the incitements of that day do not call forth. Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. It is evident that our organism has stored-up reserves of energy that are ordinarily not called upon - deeper and deeper strata of explosible material, ready for use by anyone who probes so deep. The human individual usually lives far within his limits.

William James (1842 - 1910)

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William James on courage, endurance, evil, faith, life, energy, and religion

Every sort of energy and endurance, of courage and capacity for handling life's evils, is set free in those who have religious faith.

William James (1842 - 1910)

Contributed by: Zaady

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