The Transpersonal William James Mark Ryan

Transpersonal psychologists often speculate on who was the “first” of their number, commonly with reference to Carl Jung. In fact, an effort to reconcile spiritual notions with a scientific study of the mind drew the interest of various researchers in the early days of modern psychology. Among the most eminent was William James, who is more often remembered as a voice of American philosophical pragmatism. This presentation will define ways in which James prefigured and contributed to the transpersonal orientation in psychology. Specifically, it will examine his definition of science; his efforts to reconcile science and spirituality; his refutation of materialism; his study of mediums, parapsychology, and mysticism; his concept of consciousness; and his suggestion of a “transmission theory” of the brain.