Other Publications

William James on Habit, Will, Truth, and the Meaning of Life
Edited with an Introduction by
James Sloan Allen
Frederic C. Beil Publisher, 2014

ISBN-978-1-92949-28-8 (cloth)
ISBN-978-1-929490-45-5 (ppk)
297 pages

William James, the radical modern philosopher and father of American psychology (and brother of the novelist Henry James), found habit and will to be the secret of a good life. He elaborated this discovery into a philosophy of life that runs through his many scintillating writings, ranging from the classic Principles of Psychology and The Varieties of Religious Experience to the revolutionary Pragmatism and popular essays like “The Moral Equivalent of War.”  Always he urged people to cultivate habits of mind—especially the habits of will, including the will to break bad habits—that give us self-mastery, alert us to truth, equip us to act, and lend zest and meaning to life.

The extensive Introduction shows how William James came to his philosophy and how he acted on it throughout his life in ideas and memorably readable works that have direct pertinence today. The selections then display James weaving this philosophy through enduring writings on habit and its uses, the stream of consciousness and the discipline of will, the efficacy of belief and clues to morality, the truths of experience, and the strenuous life and its rewards.



Introduction:  William James: A Philosopher for Our Times
Notes and Bibliography to the Introduction, with Further Reading


1.    The Power of Habit
“Habit” (from Psychology: The Briefer Course)
“The Laws of Habit”  (from Talks to Teachers on Psychology)
“Genius and Old-Fogeyism” (from Psychology: The Briefer

2.    Consciousness and the Habits of Will
“The Stream of Consciousness” (selections from Psychology: The Briefer
“Attention and Free-Will” (from Psychology: The Briefer Course)
“Will” (selections from Psychology: The Briefer Course)
“The Will”  (from Talks to Teachers on Psychology)     

  3.   Truths of Belief and Clues to Morality
“The Sentiment of Rationality” (selections)
“The Will To Believe” (selections)
“The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life” (selections)
“On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings,” (selections)
The Varieties of Religious Experience , (selections)

4.     Truths of Experience
“What Pragmatism Means” (selections)
“Pragmatism’s Conception of Truth” (selections)
A Pluralistic Universe, (selection)
The Meaning of Truth, (selection)

5.     The Strenuous Life and Its Rewards
“On Some Mental Effects of the Earthquake”
“The Energies of Men” (selections)
“The Moral Equivalent of War”
“What Makes a Life Significant”
“Is Life Worth Living?” (selection)                                 

Note on the Texts



       The Romance of Commerce and Culture: Capitalism, Modernism, and the Chicago-Aspen Crusade for Cultural Reform (University of Chicago Press,1983; paperback edition, 1986; second edition, University Press of Colorado, 2002)

This book tells the lively story of how consumer commerce, modernist aesthetics, the Great Books movement, and humanistic cultural criticism converged in a mid-twentieth century campaign to heal the wounds of World War II and shape American culture for the future. This campaign—involving such figures as Robert M. Hutchins, Mortimer J. Adler, Lazló Moholy-Nagy, and Ortega y Gasset, and bringing Albert Schweitzer to America for the only time—yielded many lasting consequences. Among these consequences are the eminent Aspen Institute and the making of Aspen, Colorado, as a social and cultural Mecca.


“One of the most significant pieces of cultural history to be published in the last decade.”
O. B. Hardison, Jr.
The Sewanee Review

“Rarely does a historian evoke the mood of an era as convincingly as James Sloan Allen in this portrayal of the relationship between business and ‘high culture’ in the years immediately after World War II. … A model of interdisciplinary scholarship.”

                                                          Jeffrey L. Merkle
                                                          Journal of American History

“This is an important book, the kind that brings familiar subjects together in new ways. Its theme is the changing connection between proponents of humanistic culture and leaders in the world of business. … This sense of time and change is a major contribution to cultural history. In this book, James Sloan Allen has proved himself a master of the craft.”
Gerald A. Danzer
Illinois Historical Journal

“In this tour de force, Allen manages to touch on such seemingly disparate topics as Bauhaus design, educational reform at the University of Chicago, Aristotelian philosophy, and the growth of skiing in the United States. He aims to show how American capitalism nurtured and shaped modern culture, and his objectives are quite largely fulfilled.”
Daniel Pope
Business History Review

“In Allen’s quite detailed, although always urbane, intelligent, and well-written book, we have an unusual and exceptionally suggestive perspective on the American upper class and its culture.”
Thomas Bender
American Historical Review

The Romance of Commerce and Culture offers the readerone of the best descriptions of American thought about architecture, product design, and graphic design through most of [the twentieth] century.”
Bill Bonnell
Journal of Graphic Design

Selected by Choice as one of the Ten Best Books on Business of 1983.

Buy This Book: http://www.upcolorado.com | http://www.amazon.com


Selected General Essays

“Nietzsche and Wilde: An Ethics of Style,” The Sewanee Review, Summer, 2006
“How America Is Earning Respect Abroad,” Op-Ed, Christian Science Monitor, May 9
“The Use and Abuse of Aestheticism,” Arts Education Policy Review, May-June, 2003
“A Town, A Teacher, and A War Time Tragedy,” Teaching Tolerance, Web Site,
December, 2001
“Fin de Siècle America and the Twilight of Culture” (review essay), The Sewanee Review,
Spring, 2001
“Remembrance of Restaurants Past,” France Today, September/October, 2000
“The Mystery of the Smiling Elephant: In the Erotic Temples of Khajuraho,” The Georgia
, Summer, 1999 (named among “Notable Spiritual Writings of 1999” in Best
Spiritual Writings
, 2000, ed. Philip Zaleski [HarperSanFrancisco, 2000])
“Tolstoy’s Prophesy: What Is Art? Today,” The New Criterion, December, 1998
“The Storytellers of Marrakech,” The Sewanee Review, Fall, 1996
“Reflections at the Edge of the World,” The Sewanee Review, Fall, 1992 (Awarded the
Monroe K. Spears Prize for Best Essay of 1992)
“Educating Performers,” The American Scholar, Spring, 1992 (Reprinted in The Key
Reporter, Spring, 1992)
“The Existential Reader, or Reading, Rumination, and the Classics,” The Sewanee
, Winter, 1990
“The Use and Abuse of Humanistic Education,” in Teaching by the Case Method, C.
Roland Christensen, ed. (Harvard Business School, 1987)
“Newspeak: Orwell’s Most Prophetic Idea,” Christian Science Monitor, June 8, 1984
“The Importance of Style in Art and Life,” The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 26, 1982

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