My debt to William James keeps growing

I have been stalled recently on the question of how to write these posts. Yesterday, a line from William James occurred to me that might just solve the issue. That keeps happening with him. This quote is from the first volume of his Principles of Psychology:

I know the color blue when I see it, and the flavor of a pear when I taste it; I know an inch when I move my finger through it; a second of time, when I feel it pass; an effort of attention when I make it; a difference between two things when I notice it; but about the inner nature of these facts or what makes them what they are, I can say nothing at all. I cannot impart acquaintance with them to any one who has not already made it himself. I cannot describe them, make a blind man guess what blue is like, define to a child a syllogism, or tell a philosopher in just what respect distance is just what it is, and differs from other forms of relation. At most, I can say to my friends, Go to certain places and act in certain ways, and these objects will probably come.

So what I am doing in every sense is going to many places–through travel, listening, conversation, library research, and internet research, along with a good dose of slow thinking. At best, I can hope to generate enough interest in the material I find most promising that you will seek out those experiences yourself. For one thing, I can cover more ground this way. And your perception of any piece will be different from mine. I might be able to say something about what a piece does, but I will never be able to say what it is.

And now that I’ve cleared the brush from this path, you can expect more regular posts again. As always, your input is welcome.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *