William James

William James was a 19th-century American intellectual who made contributions to a range of disciplines including psychology and philosophy. Despite being written more than a century ago, his books continue to be recommended by experts on Five Books for a variety of reasons. A popular book introducing William James and why he’s still relevant today is Sick Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life by American philosopher John Kaag.

William was the brother of novelist Henry James.

Books by William James

Interviews where books by William James were recommended

The best books on American Philosophy, recommended by John Kaag

Should we be moral? Should we love? John Kaag, philosopher and author of American Philosophy: A Love Story and Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are, puzzles how five American Pragmatist and Transcendentalist philosophers quarrel with these searching questions and other timeless subjects, from faith and belief to human rights.

The best books on Ecstatic Experiences, recommended by Jules Evans

States of ecstasy (from the ancient Greek ekstasis, meaning ‘standing outside’) are moments when you lose your ordinary sense of self and feel connected to something greater than you. It can be euphoric, but it can also be terrifying, says the philosopher Jules Evans. Here he selects five books that explore the significance and power of these surprisingly common experiences.

The Best Books on Emotions, recommended by Lisa Feldman Barrett

Not every culture has a word for ‘fear.’ Smiling was an invention of the Middle Ages. There’s a lot that will surprise you about the way we process emotions, says the neuroscientist and psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett. Here she picks five books that illustrate our understanding of how emotions work.

The best books on Consciousness, recommended by Susan Blackmore

The ‘hard problem’ of consciousness – of how the physical matter of the brain produces the psychological phenomenon of consciousness – has dogged psychologists and neuroscientists for decades. But what if we’ve been posing the question incorrectly all this time? The psychologist Susan Blackmore discusses five key texts that tackle this quicksilver concept.

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