The Energies of Men
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The Energies of Men

William James

  1. 40 páginas
  2. English
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eBook - ePub

The Energies of Men

William James

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This fascinating text concerns itself with the idea of a person's being able to beat fatigue and make the most of the 'second wind' that succeeds such barriers - barriers that prevent them from being as effective as possible in their various endeavours. The author argues that a "second wind" is a reality in the mental as in the physical realm, and that it can be found and used when needed. This text discusses the stages of fatigue apropos an undertaking or endeavour, and goes on to detail how battling past these 'fatigue-obstacles' can cause a surprising effect: the fatigue gets worse up to a certain point, when gradually or suddenly it passes away, and we are fresher than before. This book is sure too appeal to collectors of antiquarian literature and those interested in the often surprising capabilities of human beings. William James was an American psychologist and philosopher born in 1842. This book is proudly republished here with a new introductory biography of the author.

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Osler Press
The Energies of Men [1]
William James
We habitually hear; much nowadays of the difference between structural and functional psychology. I am not sure that I understand the difference, but it probably has something to do with what I have privately been accustomed to distinguish as the analytical and the clinical points of view in psychological observation. Professor Sanford, in a recently published ‘Sketch of a Beginner’s Course in Psychology,’ recommended ‘the physician’s attitude’ in that subject as the thing the teacher should first of all try to impart to the pupil. I fancy that few of you can have read Professor Pierre Janet’s masterly works in mental pathology without being struck by the little use he makes of the machinery usually relied on by psychologists, and by his own reliance on conceptions which in the laboratories and in scientific publications we never hear of at all.
Discriminations and associations, the rise and fall of thresholds, impulses and inhibitions, fatigue, — these are the terms into which our inner life is analyzed by psychologists who are not doctors, and in which, by hook or crook, its aberrations from normality have to be expressed. They can indeed be described, after the fact, in such terms, but always lamely; and everyone must feel how much is unaccounted for, how much left out.
When we turn to Janet’s pages, we find entirely other forms of thought employed. Oscillations of the level of mental energy, differences of tension, splittings of consciousness, sentiments of insufficiency and of unreality, substitutions, agitations and anxieties, depersonalizations — such are the elementary conceptions which the total view of his patient’s life imposes on this clinical observer. They have little or nothing to do with the usual laboratory categories. Ask a scientific psychologist to predict what symptoms a patient must have when his ‘supply of mental energy’ diminishes, and he can utter only the word ‘fatigue.’ He could never predict such consequences as Janet subsumes under his one term ‘psychasthenia’ — the most bizarre obsessions and agitations, the most complete distortions of the relation between the self and the world.
I do not vouch for Janet’s conceptions being valid, and I do not say that the two ways of looking at the mind contradict each other or are mutually incongruous; I simply say that they are incongruent [sic]. Each covers so little of our total mental life that they do not even interfere or jostle. Meanwhile the clinical conceptions, though they may be vaguer than the analytic ones, are certainly more adequate, give the concreter picture of the way the whole mind works, and are of far more urgent practical importance. So the ‘physician’s attitude,’ the ‘functional psychology,’ is assuredly the thing most worthy of general study to-day.
I wish to spend this hour on one conception of functional psychology, a conception never once mentioned or heard of in laboratory circles, but used perhaps more than any other by common, practical men — I mean the conception of the amount of energy available for running one’s mental and moral operations by. Practically every one knows in his own person the difference between the days when the tide of this energy is high in him and those when it is low, though no one knows exactly what reality the term energy covers when used here, or what its tides, tensions, and levels are in themselves. This vagueness is probably the reason why our scientific psychologists ignore the conception altogether. It undoubtedly connects itself with the energies of the nervous system, but it presents fluctuations that can not easily be translated into neural terms. It offers itself as the notion of a quantity, but its ebbs and floods produce extraordinary qualitative results. To have its level raised is the most important thing that can happen to a man, yet in all my reading I know of no single page or paragraph of a scientific psychology book in which it receives mention — the psychologists have left it to be treated by the moralists and mind-curers and doctors exclusively.
Every one is familiar with the phenomenon of feeling more or less alive on different days. Every one knows on any given day that there are energies slumbering in him which the incitements of that day do not call forth, but which he might display if these were greater. Most of us feel as if we lived habitually with a sort of cloud weighing on us, below our highest notch of clearness in discernment, sureness in reasoning, or firmness in deciding. Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are...


  1. William James
  2. The Energies of Men [1] William James
Estilos de citas para The Energies of Men

APA 6 Citation

James, W. (2015). The Energies of Men ([edition unavailable]). Read Books Ltd. Retrieved from (Original work published 2015)

Chicago Citation

James, William. (2015) 2015. The Energies of Men. [Edition unavailable]. Read Books Ltd.

Harvard Citation

James, W. (2015) The Energies of Men. [edition unavailable]. Read Books Ltd. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

James, William. The Energies of Men. [edition unavailable]. Read Books Ltd., 2015. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.