“The pragmatist philosopher William James had a crisp and consistent response when asked if life was worth living: maybe”

— Aeon

John Williams (New York Times) shares his admiration for the American philosopher and psychologist, and includes a ‘starter kit’ of recommended works

“About 10 years ago I was hurting; not from a broken heart so much as an exhausted one, having spent several of the previous years caring about people whose own hearts and minds were in states of distress. When I picked up The Varieties of Religious Experience, an edited version of 20 lectures that James delivered in Edinburgh in 1901 and 1902, I wasn’t expecting it to be a profound balm, but that’s what it was.

I immediately read more work by and about James. I began to verbally annotate everyday life to friends by referring to things he had done or said, with the same frequency with which I had once (no less annoyingly, I’m sure) called on scenes from The Simpsons. He was a Swiss Army knife of psychological and emotional insight.”

— John Williams, The New York Times