The article is devoted to evaluation of the contribution of William James as one of the founders of pragmatism to the origin of interactionist sociology. Along with the general recognition of special role of James among sociologists, we sometimes encounter a certain underestimation of his influence. The neglect of relevant attention to his legacy was partly conditioned by the overall silence concerning the founders of interactionism that dominated over American sociology thanks Parsons. But in fact it was Jamesian postulate of radical empiricism that was so important for the formation of empirical orientation in early American sociology. A Jamesian emphasis on the empirical world as the point of departure and the point of return became the starting point for the interactionism in its research as well as in its social politics, which was based on the principle of meliorism, which was the cornerstone of Jamesian pragmatism. Pragmatism also declared the conception of active human being, which became the fundamental principle of early interactionists (W. I. Thomas, R. Park. G. H. Mead). This idea followed from Jamesian conception of the stream of consciousness. In 'The Principles of Psychology' James has developed an original theory of 'multiple Self', which was the source of the Coolean and the Meadean conception of Self. His analysis of the elements of Self (Me and I) prepared the development of the reference group theory and the theory of role sets. James abandoned the position of dogmatic monism and tends toward pluralism. His persistent attempt to relativise the Self, the consciousness, the truth, led him to the discovery of a world that is very similar to our 'risk-filled', uncertain and fallible post-modern world. The fruitfulness of James's legacy is evident today, when his idea of the 'multiple Self' is successfully applied to building a theory of identity of post-modern man.
D. Alijevova, Trnava University, Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Sociology, Hornopotocna 23, 918 43 Trnava, Slovak Republic
Publication order reference
CEJSH db identifier