H. Social Epistemology, Pragmatism & Virtue Theory > Call For Papers: "William James’s Healthy-Mindedness: Practical Wisdom, or Self-Deception?"

William James Society - Call for Papers

The William James Society is sponsoring a session at the annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, March 12-14,
2009 in College Station, Texas.

For more information on the William James Society, visit, and on the SAAP conference, visit

The theme of the session will be "William James’s Healthy-Mindedness:
Practical Wisdom, or Self-Deception?" James defined healthy-mindedness as “the tendency which looks on all things and sees that they are good”(/Varieties/, 78), and he defended it on the grounds that healthy-mindedness can be highly effective for many people. He noted that some people cultivate healthy-mindedness volitionally. While James considered himself to be more of a sick soul, he wrote about and experimented with a number of healthy-minded practices and urged that a new branch of psychology be founded to study them by means of rigorous scientific methods.

With this call, we seek papers that provide theoretical scrutiny of James’s position, historical evaluation of the role of healthy-mindedness in the development of his thought and in his relations with his peers, or practical studies of the state of healthy-mindedness in the years since James's death. We welcome comparisons of James's spirituality and healthy-mindedness with recent and contemporary developments (for example, empirical research on happiness and well-being in contemporary psychology, neuroscience, and economics, or popular movements such as positive thinking, evangelical spirituality, and /The Secret/.) With these varied perspectives and in this critical setting, we hope to deepen our understanding of the possible benefits and potential dangers of healthy-mindedness for theory and practice.

Please note the SAAP policy that individuals will not be able to appear on the program more than once. Kindly do not submit an abstract if you anticipate being on the program in some other capacity.

Please send abstracts of papers, of 500 words, by August 1, 2008 to either:
Paul Croce, American Studies Department, Stetson Univerisity: Box 8274, Stetson, DeLand, FL 32720; <>; or
James Pawelski, Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania, 3701 Market Street, Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19104;

July 15, 2008 | Registered CommenterGuy Axtell