William James Quotations

William James

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.

An unlearned carpenter of my acquaintance once said in my hearing: "There is very little difference between one man and another, but what there is is very important."

Geniuses are commonly believed to excel other men in their power of sustained attention...But it is their genius making them attentive, not their attention making geniuses of them.

Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.

How pleasant is the day when we give up striving to be young -- or slender.

I believe there is no source of deception in the investigation of nature which can compare with a fixed belief that certain kinds of phenomena are impossible.

Need and struggle are what excite and inspire us; our hour of triumph is what brings the void.

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.

The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.

The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.

The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.

There is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood by those who hear it.

There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers.

These then are my last words to you: Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.

To give up pretensions is as blessed a relief as to get them gratified.

We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of the cause.

We want all our friends to tell us our bad qualities; it is only the particular ass that does so whom we can't tolerate.

Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other sees him, and each man as he really is.

When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that in itself is a choice.