Crisis in Life

William James: "I think that yesterday was a crisis in my life. I finished the first part of Renouvier's second Essais and see no reason why his definition of free will—-"the sustaining of a thought because I CHOOSE TO when I might have other thoughts"—-need be the definition of an illusion. At any rate, I will assume for the present-—until next year—-that it is no illusion. My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.

  1. Text: William James, Diary April 30th, 1870. In: Ralph Barton Perry (ed.), The Thought and Character of William James. Boston : Little, Brown & Co., 1935 

  2. Photograph: William James in Brazil after the attack of small-pox, portrait photograph, 1865. In: Letters to William James from various correspondents and photograph album, 1865-1929, Available at Houghton Library. Digitized photograph URL:,_1865.jpg