Thursday, January 14, 2010

Essay: "The Energies of Men." William James

One-minute review: How do individuals tap into their energies? What gives us a “second wind”? “Either some unusual stimulus fills them with emotional excitement, or some unusual idea…induces them to make an extra effort of will. Excitements, ideas and efforts, in a word are what carry us over the dam.” “The stimuli of those who successfully respond and undergo the transformation here, are duty, the example of others, and crowd-pressure and contagion.”


“Writing is higher than walking, thinking is higher than writing, deciding higher than thinking, deciding ‘no’ higher than deciding ‘yes’….”

“Everyone is familiar with the phenomenon of feeling more or less alive on different days.”

“…the human individual… possesses powers of various sorts which he habitually fails to use. He energizes below his maximum, and he behaves below his optimum.”

“Despair lames most people, but it wakes others fully up.”

“The normal opener of deeper and deeper levels of energy is the will.”

“In general, whether a given idea shall be a live idea depends more on the person into whose mind it is injected than on the idea itself.”

“ ‘Fatherland,’ ‘the Flag,’ ‘the Union,’ ‘Holy Church,’ … ‘Truth,’ ‘Science,’ ‘Liberty’ … are so many examples of energy-releasing ideas.”

“Conscience makes cowards of us all.”

Great Essays. Ed. Houston Peterson. New York: Washington Square Press, Inc. 1960.

What is an essay? “They are all prefaces. A preface is nothing but a talk with the reader; and they [essays] do nothing else.” Charles Lamb.

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