2432 James, William (18421910)

actions, and use this information to make deci
sions and choices. People think, perceive, and
act on the basis of these categories, and it is not
only the ability to discriminate that is made
possible by categories, but also the sensations
associated with categories that direct human
thought and conduct.
In his analysis of consciousness, James
describes the link between signs and sensations
as apperception. This physiological connec
tion between signs and sensations is the
mechanism by which signs and symbols direct
human conduct. The sensory images that direct
human conduct are anticipatory images.
These images and categories of thought enable
people to anticipate the probable sensations
associated with certain acts and objects, and
thereby direct human conduct in ways that
are generally beneficial to the individual and
the species.
The concept of apperception is a core con
cept in Jamess model of consciousness. Several
functions and implications are connected to this
concept. First, apperception allows the cogni
tive processes of association and discrimination
to be directed by sensations, however subtle,
that occur when an individual thinks and inter
acts with the environment. Second, appercep
tion is an incipient conception of sentiment,
a key concept in Cooleys later conceptions of
self and society. Third, apperception is intrin
sic to Jamess principle of ideo motivation,
which asserts that sensations associated with
signs and symbols stored in the mind influence
cognition in ways that direct and motivate con
duct. Finally, apperception is a crucial compo
nent of Jamess concept of a figured reality,
which, like Peirces concept of symbolic rea
lism, posits that people can store signs and
symbols that represent reality in their minds
and use them for thinking, anticipating, and
generally directing their conduct. This princi
ple is central to later studies of cognition and
symbolic interactionism.
Jamess principle of a figured reality is a
central tenet in his functionalist model of con
sciousness. As such, it is also an important
element in the American pragmatist conception
of instrumental knowledge wherein knowledge
is defined as information that guides human
actions in a way that is useful and instrumental
to well being and survival. As conceptualized
by James, all knowledge is composed of signs
and symbols that are necessarily associated with
sensations; this conception of knowledge also
has implications for theories of meaning. Most
importantly, if categories of thought are asso
ciated with sensation, meaning is not simply a
matter of ascertaining what words refer to, but
also a question regarding how acts and different
ideas and things make people feel. Following
this principle, acts and things that are mean
ingful are generally associated with certain
pleasant and positive feelings, while those that
are deemed meaningless are associated with bad
and unpleasant feelings or no feelings at all.
This principle, wherein knowledge is associated
with a feeling state, underlies Jamess analysis
of depression and the sick soul.
A major tenet in Jamess conception of con
sciousness is the proposition that consciousness
should always be conceptualized as something
that is constantly changing, yet continuous, a
stream of consciousness. The validity of this
concept is supported by the fact that, in accor
dance with Jamess principles, people do have
the capacity for memory, cognition, learning,
forgetting, habit, and the use of language to
represent self and reality, all of which make
consciousness and self awareness a stable yet
fluid experience. In Principles of Psychology,
James carefully delineates these many capacities,
their complex interrelationships, and the human
qualities they facilitate. His analysis culminates
with his depiction of the adaptive nature of habit
which functions to simplify movements, con
serve energy, limit fatigue, and allow people
to multitask and become habituated to social
norms. Accordingly, habit is not only personally
empowering but also the great flywheel of
society, a notion that has considerable rele
vance for sociological conceptions of social con
trol and order.
Jamess complex model of consciousness and
human nature postulates that humans are
evolved, sentient, cognitive, self aware beings
prone to habit and capable of learning, discrimi
nation, and willful activity. However, the cap
stone of his psychology is his definition of self,
and the related conceptions of the soul, will,
motivation, and mental illness. As defined by
James, self is composed of the I and the Me.
The I is the knower, thinker, and therefore
the subject. The Me is that which empirically