Everywhere in James’s writing is his belief in prag- matism. According to pragmatism, which is a cor- nerstone of functionalism, any belief, thought, or behavior must be judged by its consequences. Any belief that helps create a more effective and satis- fying life is worth holding, whether such a belief is scientific or religious. Believing in free will was emotionally satisfying to James, so he believed in it. According to the pragmatic viewpoint, truth is not something “out there” in a static form waiting to be discovered, as many of the rationalists maintained. Instead, truth is something that must be gauged by effectiveness under changing circumstances. What works is true, and because circumstances change, truth must be forever dynamic.
There is a kinship between Vaihinger’s philos- ophy of “as if ” and James’s prag- matism. Both insisted that words and concepts be judged by their practical consequences. James’s pragmatic philosophy is clear then in his descrip- tion of the methods that psychology should employ. He urged the use of both introspection and exper- imentation, as well as the study of animals, children, preliterate humans, and abnormal humans. In short, he encouraged the use of any method that would shed light on the complexities of human existence; he believed that nothing useful should be omitted.
In 1907, James published Pragmatism (dedicated to the memory of John Stuart Mill), in which he delineated two types of personality: the tender-minded and the tough-minded. Tender-minded people are rationalistic (principle-oriented), intellectual, ide- alistic, optimistic, religious, and dogmatic, and they believe in free will. Conversely, tough-minded peo- ple are empiricistic (fact-oriented), sensationalistic, materialistic, pessimistic, irreligious, skeptical, and fatalistic. James viewed pragmatism as a way of com- promising between the two worldviews. The prag- matist simply takes from each list whatever works best in the circumstances at hand.
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