Episode 47 of Seize The Moment podcast, we welcome philosopher John Kaag to discuss how William James can help us cope with depression and anxiety, form healthier habits, and create meaning through our wills to act, sharing our personal stories of sorrow and alienation.
John Kaag is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and a Miller Scholar at the Santa Fe Institute. He just finished Sick Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life, which was published with Princeton in spring of 2020.
He is also author and contributor, along with Douglas Anderson, to the American Pragmatism Chapter How to Live a Good Life.
Kaag tells how James’s experiences as one of what he called the “sick-souled,” those who think that life might be meaningless, drove him to articulate an ideal of “healthy-mindedness”―an attitude toward life that is open, active, and hopeful, but also realistic about its risks.via johnkaag.com
On this episode Kaag shares his story of battling depression with the philosophy of pragmatism, teaching us about William James’ life saving ideas of free-will, habit formation, and individual strength, prompting us to share our own struggles with mental illness.
Philosophy, James argued, is meant to be practical rather than an endeavor only available to a few worthy initiates who posses the time to consider the secrets of the universe. Philosophy begins and ends with our lives, helping us to make them worth living and, more importantly, worth holding on to.