When William James died in 1910 he left a large body of manuscript material that has never appeared in print. Much of it is of biographical interest only, but the largest part is concerned with James’s work. The present volume, the first of two that will bring The Works of William James to completion, includes the manuscripts devoted to work in progress on philosophical and psychological subjects. The last volume will bring together the manuscripts relating to James’s public lectures and teaching.
The most important of these manuscripts are those of the years 1903 and 1904 called “The Many and the One.” This was material for the book that James hoped would be the full technical exposition of his philosophy of radical empiricism. It contains discussions of problems and concepts that are not found in his published work. Closely related to this are his responses to the so-called Miller-Bode objections, which charged that his philosophy of pure experience could not solve the problem of the many and the one or the question “How can two minds know the same thing?” James’s notes record his offers to work his way out of the impasse, which eventually led to his formulation of radical empiricism and his total rejection of the mind-body dualism that had dominated Western philosophy since Descartes.
The manuscripts in the rest of the volume contain James’s reflections over a period of forty years in the form of drafts, memoranda, and notebook entries. The diverse subjects are arranged under the headings of Philosophy, Psychology, Aesthetics, Ethics, and Religion. Of special interest are the early notes in which James began to work out his own philosophical point of view.