Research Paper on William James and Functionalism

1230 Words Apr 4th, 2013 5 Pages
PSY 101

“William James and Functionalism”

I. Introduction

William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher and psychologist

who had trained as a physician. He was the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United

States. James wrote influential books on pragmatism, psychology, educational psychology, the

psychology of religious experience, and mysticism. He was the brother of novelist Henry James and of

diarist Alice James. In the summer of 1878, William James married Alice Gibbens. William James was

born at the Astor House in New York City. He was the son of Henry James Sr., a noted and
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The term 'function' can also refer to how the mental process functions in the

evolution of the species, what adaptive property it provides that would cause it to be selected

through evolution.

Functionalism never really died, it became part of the mainstream of psychology. The importance of

looking at process rather than structure is a common attribute of modern psychology. As an

individual approach it lacked a clear formulation and inherited the problems of the structuralist

reliance on introspection.

IV. William James’ approach on functionalism

Unlike Many Psychologist who were interested on structuralism (structures of the mind), William

James instead was interested in consciousness and how it functions in individuals, especially in

relation to behavior. James’s psychology experiments with his students tended to be more curious

adventures in consciousness and practical application. James taught at Harvard University from

1878-1890. During this time, he completed his renowned psychological work: “The Principles of

Psychology” in which he elucidated his

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