Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Dr Clayton Valli

Dr Clayton Valli died on 7 March, 2003. Dr Clayton Valli was the author of numerous articles and books on linguistics and on American Sign Language poetry. Dr Clayton Valli gave workshops and presentations across the country that raised awareness and appreciation for the movement, meter, and rhythm in ASL poetry. Dr Clayton Valli own poetic works, which have drawn international recognition for their aestheticism and contribution to literary scholarship, are available on video, taped both by him and by other ASL artists.

A frequent visitor and presenter in the Rochester area, Dr Clayton Valli gave several workshops on ASL poetry at the University of Rochester. Dr Clayton Valli also visited classes and was a keynote presenter at the Second National ASL Literature Conference, which was held at the University in 1996.

Dr Clayton Valli also made an impact in Canada, working at the Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf in Milton, Ontario. Dr Clayton Valli provided teacher training workshops in ASL poetry for the Ontario ASL Curriculum Team. Dr Clayton Valli helped to pioneer the worldwide movement to develop an ASL-as-a-first-language curriculum for Deaf children.

Dr Clayton Valli was born in Massachusetts and attended the Austine School for the Deaf in Vermont. Dr Clayton Valli attended the University of Nevada, Reno, where he graduated with a B.A. in Social Psychology in 1978. In 1985, he received his M.A. in Linguistics from Gallaudet University. Dr Clayton Valli’s Ph.D. in Linguistics and ASL Poetics from the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio which he received in 1993 made him the first person ever to achieve a doctorate in ASL poetry. Dr Clayton Valli was also the 1st individual to identify the features of ASL poetry as a literature genre in its own right.

Dr Clayton Valli authored and co-authored many books about ASL linguistics and literature. Dr Clayton Valli was also a reviewer for the Ontario monograph Teacher Research in a Bilingual-Bicultural School for Deaf Students. But it is his craft as an ASL poet and his contribution to ASL literature for which he is most remembered. Dr Clayton Valli’s poems “Cow and Horse” and “Dandelions” are known and loved by Deaf children and adults across the continent.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Harold MacGrath

Harold MacGrath was born on 4 September, 1871 and died on 30 October, 1932. Harold MacGrath was an American author, Harold MacGrath was a bestselling American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. In an article in the 23 April, 1932 issue of The Saturday Evening Post written under the title “The Short Autobiography of a Deaf Man,” Harold MacGrath told the public how he had struggled early in life as a result of a hearing impairment. At a time in history when deaf people were almost automatically considered as lacking intellectual acuity, he had hid this from his employer and others. Harold MacGrath’s success made him a very wealthy man and although he travelled the world extensively.

Harold McGrath is also known occasionally as Harold McGrath, he was born in Syracuse, New York. As a young man, he worked as a reporter and columnist on the Syracuse Herald newspaper until the late 1890s when he published his first novel, a romance titled “Arms and the Woman.” According to the New York Times, his next book, “The Puppet Crown,” was the No.7 bestselling book in the United States for all of 1901. From that point on, Harold MacGrath never looked back, writing novels for the mass market about love, adventure, mystery, spies, and the like at an average rate of more than one a year. Harold McGrath would have 3 more of his books that were among the top ten bestselling books of the year. At the same time, he penned a number of short stories for major American magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, and Red Book magazine. Several of Harold MacGrath’s novels were serialized in these magazines and contributing to them was something he would continue to do until his death in 1932.

In 1912, Harold MacGrath became one of the first nationally-known authors to write directly for the movies when he was hired by the American Film Company to do the screenplay for a short film in the Western genre titled “The Vengeance That Failed.” Harold MacGrath had 18 of his 40 novels and 3 of his short stories made into films plus he wrote the story for another 4 motion pictures. 3 of his books were also made into Broadway plays. 1 of the many films made from Harold MacGrath’s writings was the 1913 serial The Adventures of Kathlyn starring Kathlyn Williams. While writing the 13 episodes he simultaneously wrote the book that was published immediately after the 29 December, 1913 premiere of the first episode of the serial so as to be in book stores during the screening of the entire 13 episodes.

Among Harold MacGrath’s short stories made into film was the 1920 Douglas Fairbanks Production Company’s feature-length adventure film The Mollycoddle based on Harold MacGrath’s short story with the same title that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in 1913. Directed by Victor Fleming, it starred Fairbanks, Ruth Renick, and Wallace Beery and was distributed through the newly created United Artists. It is said that during this same time, a young Boris Karloff, who previously had a few uncredited film roles, chose his stage name for his first screen credit in 1920 from the Harold MacGrath novel “The Drums of Jeopardy” which had also been published by The Saturday Evening Post in January of that year and which featured a Russian mad scientist character named “Boris Karlov.” The name “Boris Karlov” was used from Harold MacGrath’s book for the 1922 Broadway play, but by 1923 with actor Boris Karloff using the similar sounding variation, the film version renamed the character as “Gregor Karlov.”

Harold MacGrath’s success made him a very wealthy man and although he traveled the world extensively, Syracuse, New York was his home and it was there in 1912 that he built an English country-style mansion renowned for its landscaped gardens. In an article in the April 23, 1932 issue of The Saturday Evening Post written under the title “The Short Autobiography of a Deaf Man,” MacGrath told the public how he had struggled early in life as a result of a hearing impairment. At a time in history when deaf people were almost automatically considered as lacking intellectual acuity, he had hid this from his employer and others. Harold MacGrath died at his home in Syracuse a few months after the article was published.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Helen Keller

Helen Adams Keller was born on 27 June, 1880 at an estate called Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, Alabama and died on 1 June, 1968 in her sleep, passing away 26 days before her 88th birthday, at her home in Arcan Ridge near Westport, Connecticut. A service was held in her honor at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC and her ashes were placed there next to her constant companions, Anne Sullivan and Polly Thompson.

Helen Keller was an American author, activist and lecturer. Helen Keller was the first deafblind person to graduate from college.

The story of how Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become known worldwide through the dramatic depictions of the play The Miracle Worker.

What is less well known is how Helen Keller’s life developed after she completed her education. A prolific author, she was well traveled, and was outspoken in her opposition to war. Helen Keller campaigned for women’s suffrage, workers’ rights and socialism, as well as many other progressive causes.

Helen Keller was born to Captain Arthur H. Keller, a former officer of the Confederate Army, and Kate Adams Keller, a cousin of Robert E. Lee and daughter of Charles W. Adams, a former Confederate general. The Keller family originates from Germany, and at least one source claims her father was of Swiss descent. Helen Keller was not born blind and deaf; it was not until 19 months of age that she came down with an illness described by doctors as “an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain”, which could have possibly been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness did not last for a particularly long time, but it left her deaf and blind. At that time her only communication partner was Martha Washington, the 6 year old daughter of the family cook, who was able to create a sign language with her; by the age of 7, she had over 60 home signs to communicate with her family.

In his doctoral dissertation, “Deaf-blind Children (psychological development in a process of education)” (1971, Moscow Defectology Institute), Soviet blind-deaf psychologist Meshcheryakov asserted that Washington’s friendship and teaching was crucial for Helen Keller’s later developments.

Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan in 1898 In 1886, her mother, inspired by an account in Charles Dickens’ American Notes of the successful education of another deafblind child, Laura Bridgman, dispatched young Helen Keller, accompanied by her father, to seek out Dr. J. Julian Chisolm, an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist in Baltimore, for advice. Dr J. Julian Chisolm, subsequently, put them in touch with Alexander Graham Bell, who was working with deaf children at the time. Alexander Graham Belll advised the couple to contact the Perkins Institute for the Blind, the school where Bridgman had been educated, which was then located in South Boston. The school delegated teacher and former student Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired and then only 20 years old, to become Helen Keller’s instructor.
It was the beginning of a 49-year-long relationship, eventually evolving into governess and then eventual companion.

Anne Sullivan got permission from Helen Keller’s father to isolate the girl from the rest of the family in a little house in their garden. Anne Sullivan loved Helen Keller dearly and loved her like she was her child. Anne Sullivan’s first task was to instill discipline in the spoiled girl. Helen Keller’s big breakthrough in communication came one day when she realized that the motions her teacher was making on her palm, while running cool water over her hand, symbolized the idea of “water”; she then nearly exhausted Anne Sullivan demanding the names of all the other familiar objects in her world (including her prized doll).

In 1890, 10 year old Helen Keller was introduced to the story of Ragnhild Kåta, a deafblind Norwegian girl who had learned to speak. Ragnhild Kåta’s success inspired Helen Keller to want to learn to speak as well. Anne Sullivan taught her charge to speak using the Tadoma method of touching the lips and throat of others as they speak, combined with fingerspelling letters on the palm of the child’s hand. Later Helen Keller learned Braille, and used it to read not only English but also French, German, Greek, and Latin. Later she wrote 2 books and acted in a movie.

In 1888, Helen Keller attended the Royal Institute For the Blind. In 1894, Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan moved to New York City to attend the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf and Horace Mann School for the Deaf. In 1896, they returned to Massachusetts and Helen Keller entered The Cambridge School for Young Ladies before gaining admittance, in 1900, to Radcliffe College. Helen Keller’s admirer Mark Twain had introduced her to Standard Oil magnate Henry Huttleton Rogers, who, with his wife, paid for her education. In 1904, at the age of 24, Helen Keller graduated from Radcliffe magna cum laude, becoming the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Anne Sullivan stayed as a companion to Helen Keller long after she taught her. Anne Sullivan married John Macy in 1905, and her health started failing around 1914. Polly Thompson was hired to keep house. Polly Thompson was a young woman from Scotland who didn’t have experience with deaf or blind people. Polly Thompson progressed to working as a secretary as well, and eventually became a constant companion to Helen Keller.

After Anne Sullivan died in 1936, Helen Keller and Polly Thompson moved to Connecticut. They travelled worldwide raising funding for the blind. Polly Thompson had a stroke in 1957 from which she never fully recovered, and died in 1960.

Winnie Corbally, a nurse who was originally brought in to care for Polly Thompson in 1957, stayed on after Polly Thompson’s death and was Helen Keller’s companion for the rest of her life.

Helen Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker and author. Helen Keller is remembered as an advocate for people with disabilities amid numerous other causes. Helen Keller was a suffragist, a pacifist, a Wilson opposer, a radical socialist, and a birth control supporter. In 1915, Helen Keller and George Kessler founded the Helen Keller International (HKI) organization. This organization is devoted to research in vision, health and nutrition. In 1920, she helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan traveled to over 39 countries, making several trips to Japan and becoming a favorite of the Japanese people. Helen Keller met every US President from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson and was friends with many famous figures, including Alexander Graham Bell, Charlie Chaplin, and Mark Twain.

Helen Keller was a member of the Socialist Party and actively campaigned and wrote in support of the working classes from 1909 to 1921. Helen Keller supported Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs in each of his campaigns for the presidency. Newspaper columnists who had praised her courage and intelligence before she expressed her socialist views now called attention to her disabilities. The editor of the Brooklyn Eagle wrote that her “mistakes sprung out of the manifest limitations of her development.” Helen Keller responded to that editor, referring to having met him before he knew of her political views:

“ At that time the compliments he paid me were so generous that I blush to remember them. But now that I have come out for socialism he reminds me and the public that I am blind and deaf and especially liable to error. I must have shrunk in intelligence during the years since I met him…Oh, ridiculous Brooklyn Eagle! Socially blind and deaf, it defends an intolerable system, a system that is the cause of much of the physical blindness and deafness which we are trying to prevent.”

Helen Keller joined the Industrial Workers of the World (known as the IWW or the Wobblies) in 1912, saying that parliamentary socialism was “sinking in the political bog.” Helen Keller wrote for the IWW between 1916 and 1918. In Why I Became an IWW, Helen Keller explained that her motivation for activism came in part from her concern about blindness and other disabilities:

“ I was appointed on a commission to investigate the conditions of the blind. For the first time I, who had thought blindness a misfortune beyond human control, found that too much of it was traceable to wrong industrial conditions, often caused by the selfishness and greed of employers, and the social evil contributed its share. I found that poverty drove women to a life of shame that ended in blindness. ”

The last sentence refers to prostitution and syphilis, the latter a leading cause of blindness.

Helen Keller and her friend Mark Twain were both considered radicals in the socio-political context present in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, and as a consequence, their political views have been forgotten or glossed over in popular perception.

One of Helen Keller’s earliest pieces of writing, at the age of 11, was The Frost King (1891). There were allegations that this story had been plagiarized from The Frost Fairies by Margaret Canby. An investigation into the matter revealed that Helen Keller may have experienced a case of cryptomnesia, which was that she had Canby’s story read to her but forgot about it, while the memory remained in her subconscious.

At the age of 23, Helen Keller published her autobiography, The Story of My Life (1903), with help from Anne Sullivan and Anne Sullivan’s husband, John Macy. It includes letters that Helen Keller wrote and the story of her life up to age 21, and was written during her time in college.

Helen Keller wrote “The World I Live In” in 1908 giving readers an insight into how she felt about the world. “Out of the Dark”, a series of essays on Socialism, was published in 1913.

Helen Keller’s spiritual autobiography, My Religion, was published in 1927 and re-issued as Light in my Darkness. It advocates the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, the controversial mystic who gives a spiritual interpretation of the Last Judgment and second coming of Jesus Christ, and the movement named after him, Swedenborgianism.

In total Helen Keller wrote 12 books and numerous articles.

When Helen Keller visited Akita Prefecture in Japan in July 1937, she inquired about Hachikō, the famed Akita dog that had died in 1935. Helen Keller told a Japanese person that she would like to have an Akita dog; one was given to her within a month, with the name of Kamikaze-go. When he died of canine distemper, his older brother, Kenzan-go, was presented to her as an official gift from the Japanese government in July 1939. Helen Keller is credited with having introduced the Akita to the United States through these 2 dogs. By 1938 a breed standard had been established and dog shows had been held, but such activities stopped after World War II began. Helen Keller wrote in the Akita
Journal:

“ If ever there was an angel in fur, it was Kamikaze. I know I shall never feel quite the same tenderness for any other pet. The Akita dog has all the qualities that appeal to me — he is gentle, companionable and trusty. ”

Helen Keller suffered a series of strokes in 1961 and spent the last years of her life at her home.

On 14 September, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Helen Keller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the United States’ highest 2 civilian honors. In 1965 she was elected to the Women’s Hall of Fame at the New York World’s Fair.

Helen Keller devoted much of her later life to raise funds for the American Foundation for the Blind.

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Dyslexia Series-Disabled Legend William James

William James was born on 11 January, 1842 at the Astor House in New York City, New York, USA and died on 26 August, 1910 of heart failure at his home in Chocorua, New Hampshire.

William James was a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher trained as a medical doctor. William James wrote influential books on the young science of psychology, educational psychology, psychology of religious experience and mysticism, and the philosophy of pragmatism. William James was the brother of novelist Henry James and of diarist Alice James.

William James was the son of Henry James Sr., an independently wealthy and notoriously eccentric Swedenborgian theologian well acquainted with the literary and intellectual elites of his day. The intellectual brilliance of the James family milieu and the remarkable epistolary talents of several of its members have made them a subject of continuing interest to historians, biographers, and critics.

William James interacted with a wide array of writers and scholars throughout his life, including his godfather Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as Horace Greeley, William Cullen Bryant, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Charles Peirce, Josiah Royce, George Santayana, Ernst Mach, John Dewey, W. E. B. Du Bois, Helen Keller, Mark Twain, Horatio Alger, Jr., James George Frazer, Henri Bergson, H. G. Wells, G. K. Chesterton, Sigmund Freud, Gertrude Stein, and Carl Jung.

William James, with his younger brother Henry James (who became a prominent novelist) and sister Alice James (who is known for her posthumously published diary), received an eclectic trans-Atlantic education, developing fluency in both German and French languages along with a cosmopolitan character. William James’ family made 2 trips to Europe while he was still a child, setting a pattern that resulted in thirteen more European journeys during his life. William James’ early artistic bent led to an early apprenticeship in the studio of William Morris Hunt in Newport, Rhode Island, but yielded in 1861 to scientific studies at Harvard University’s Lawrence Scientific School.

In his early adulthood, William James suffered from a variety of physical ailments, including those of the eyes, back, stomach, and skin. William James was also subject to a variety of psychological symptoms which were diagnosed at the time as neurasthenia, and which included periods of depression during which he contemplated suicide for months on end. 2 younger brothers, Garth Wilkinson (Wilky) and Robertson (Bob), fought in the Civil War, but the other three siblings (William, Henry, and Alice) all suffered from periods of invalidism.

William James switched to medical studies at Harvard Medical School in 1864. William James took a break in the spring of 1865 to join Harvard’s Louis Agassiz on a scientific expedition up the Amazon River, but aborted his trip after eight months, having suffered bouts of severe seasickness and mild smallpox. William James’ studies were interrupted once again due to illness in April 1867. William James traveled to Germany in search of a cure and remained until November 1868. (During this period he began to publish, with reviews appearing in literary periodicals like the North American Review.) William James finally earned his M.D. degree in June 1869, but never practiced medicine. What he called his “soul-sickness” would only be resolved in 1872, after an extended period of philosophical searching. William James married Alice Gibbens in 1878.

William James’ time in Germany proved intellectually fertile, helping him find that his true interests lay not in medicine but in philosophy and psychology. Later, in 1902 he would write: “I originally studied medicine in order to be a physiologist, but I drifted into psychology and philosophy from a sort of fatality. I never had any philosophic instruction, the first lecture on psychology I ever heard being the first I ever gave”.

William James spent his entire academic career at Harvard. William James was appointed instructor in physiology for the spring 1873 term, instructor in anatomy and physiology in 1873, assistant professor of psychology in 1876, assistant professor of philosophy in 1881, full professor in 1885, endowed chair in psychology in 1889, return to philosophy in 1897, and emeritus professor of philosophy in 1907.

William James studied medicine, physiology, and biology, and began to teach in those subjects, but was drawn to the scientific study of the human mind at a time when psychology was constituting itself as a science. William James’s acquaintance with the work of figures like Hermann Helmholtz in Germany and Pierre Janet in France facilitated his introduction of courses in scientific psychology at Harvard University. William James taught his first experimental psychology course at Harvard in the 1875-1876 academic year.

During his Harvard years, William James joined in philosophical discussions with Charles Peirce, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Chauncey Wright that evolved into a lively group known as the Metaphysical Club by the early 1870s. Louis Menand speculates that the Club provided a foundation for American intellectual thought for decades to come.

Among William James’ students at Harvard were such luminaries as Boris Sidis, Theodore Roosevelt, George Santayana, W.E.B. Du Bois, G. Stanley Hall, Ralph Barton Perry, Gertrude Stein, Horace Kallen, Morris Raphael Cohen, Alain Locke, C. I. Lewis, and Mary Calkins.

Following his January, 1907 retirement from Harvard, William James continued to write and lecture, publishing Pragmatism, A Pluralistic Universe, and The Meaning of Truth. William James was increasingly afflicted with cardiac pain during his last years. It worsened in 1909 while he worked on a philosophy text (unfinished but posthumously published as Some Problems in Philosophy). William James sailed to Europe in the spring of 1910 to take experimental treatments which proved unsuccessful, and returned home on August 18.

William James was one of the strongest proponents of the school of Functionalism in psychology and of Pragmatism in philosophy. William James was a founder of the American Society for Psychical Research, as well as a champion of alternative approaches to healing. William James challenged his professional colleagues not to let a narrow mindset prevent an honest appraisal of those phenomena.

In an empirical study by Haggbloom et al using 6 criteria such as citations and recognition, William James was found to be the 14th most eminent psychologist of the 20th Century.

William James wrote voluminously throughout his life. A fairly complete bibliography of his writings by John McDermott is 47 pages long.

William James gained widespread recognition with his monumental Principles of Psychology (1890), 1200 pages in 2 volumes which took 12 years to complete. Psychology: The Briefer Course, was an 1892 abridgement designed as a less rigorous introduction to the field. These works criticized both the English associationist school and the Hegelianism of his day as competing dogmatisms of little explanatory value, and sought to re-conceive of the human mind as inherently purposive and selective.

William James defined true beliefs as those that prove useful to the believer. Truth, he said, is that which works in the way of belief. “True ideas lead us into useful verbal and conceptual quarters as well as directly up to useful sensible termini. They lead to consistency, stability and flowing human intercourse ” but ” all true processes must lead to the face of directly verifying sensible experiences somewhere,” he wrote.

William James’ assertion that the value of a truth depends upon its use to the individual who holds it is known as pragmatism. Additional tenets of William James’ pragmatism include the view that the world is a mosaic of diverse experiences that can only be properly understood through an application of “radical empiricism.” Radical empiricism, distinct from everyday scientific empiricism, presumes that nature and experience can never be frozen for absolutely objective analysis, that, at the very least, the mind of the observer will affect the outcome of any empirical approach to truth since, empirically, the mind and nature are inseparable. William James’ emphasis on diversity as the default human condition — over and against duality, especially Hegelian dialectical duality — has maintained a strong influence in American culture, especially among liberals, and his radical empiricism lies in the background of contemporary relativism. William James’ description of the mind-world connection, which he described in terms of a “stream of consciousness,” had a direct and significant impact on avant-garde and modernist literature and art.

In What Pragmatism Means, William James writes that the central point of his own doctrine of truth is, in brief, that “truth is one species of good, and not, as is usually supposed, a category distinct from good, and coordinate with it. Truth is the name of whatever proves itself to be good in the way of belief, and good, too, for definite, assignable reasons.” Richard Rorty claims that James did not mean to give a theory of truth with this statement and that we should not regard it as such. However, other pragmatism scholars such as Susan Haack and Howard Mounce do not share Rorty’s instrumentalist interpretation of William James.

In The Meaning of Truth, William James speaks of truth in relativistic terms: “The critic’s [sc., the critic of pragmatism] trouble…seems to come from his taking the word ‘true’ irrelatively, whereas the pragmatist always means ‘true for him who experiences the workings.’ ”

William James went on to apply the pragmatic method to the epistemological problem of truth. William James would seek the meaning of ‘true’ by examining how the idea functioned in our lives. A belief was true, he said, if in the long run it worked for all of us, and guided us expeditiously through our semihospitable world. William James was anxious to uncover what true beliefs amounted to in human life, what their “Cash Value” was, what consequences they led to. A belief was not a mental entity which somehow mysteriously corresponded to an external reality if the belief were true. Beliefs were ways of acting with reference to a precarious environment, and to say they were true was to say they guided us satisfactorily in this environment. In this sense the pragmatic theory of truth applied Darwinian ideas in philosophy; it made survival the test of intellectual as well as biological fitness. If what was true was what worked, we can scientifically investigate religion’s claim to truth in the same manner. The enduring quality of religious beliefs throughout recorded history and in all cultures gave indirect support for the view that such beliefs worked. William James also argued directly that such beliefs were satisfying — they enabled us to lead fuller, richer lives and were more viable than their alternatives. Religious beliefs were expedient in human existence, just as scientific beliefs were.

Will to Believe Doctrine
Main article: Will to Believe Doctrine
In William James’s lecture of 1897 titled “The Will to Believe,” William James defends the right to violate the principle of evidentialism in order to justify hypothesis venturing. Although this doctrine is often seen as a way for William James to justify religious beliefs, his philosophy of pragmatism allows him to use the results of his hypothetical venturing as evidence to support the hypothesis’ truth. Therefore, this doctrine allows one to assume belief in God and prove its existence by what the belief brings to one’s life.

William James did important work in philosophy of religion. In his Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh he provided a wide-ranging account of The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) and interpreted them according to his pragmatic leanings. Some of the important claims he makes in this regard:

Religious genius (experience) should be the primary topic in the study of religion, rather than religious institutions—since institutions are merely the social descendant of genius.

The intense, even pathological varieties of experience (religious or otherwise) should be sought by psychologists, because they represent the closest thing to a microscope of the mind—that is, they show us in drastically enlarged form the normal processes of things.

In order to usefully interpret the realm of common, shared experience and history, we must each make certain “over-beliefs” in things which, while they cannot be proven on the basis of experience, help us to live fuller and better lives.

The investigation of mystical experience was constant throughout the life of William James, leading him to experiment with chloral hydrate (1870), amyl nitrite (1875), nitrous oxide (1882), and even peyote (1896). William James claimed that it was only when he was under the influence of nitrous oxide that he was able to understand Hegel. William James concluded that while the revelations of the mystic hold true, they hold true only for the mystic; for others, they are certainly ideas to be considered, but can hold no claim to truth without personal experience of such.

William James is one of the 2 namesakes of the William James-Lange theory of emotion, which he formulated independently of Carl Lange in the 1880s. The theory holds that emotion is the mind’s perception of physiological conditions that result from some stimulus. In William James’ oft-cited example; it is not that we see a bear, fear it, and run. We see a bear and run, consequently we fear the bear. Our mind’s perception of the higher adrenaline level, heartbeat, etc., is the emotion.

This way of thinking about emotion has great consequences for the philosophy of aesthetics. Here is a passage from his great work, Principles of Psychology, that spells out those consequences.

We must immediately insist that aesthetic emotion, pure and simple, the pleasure given us by certain lines and masses, and combinations of colors and sounds, is an absolutely sensational experience, an optical or auricular feeling that is primary, and not due to the repercussion backwards of other sensations elsewhere consecutively aroused. To this simple primary and immediate pleasure in certain pure sensations and harmonious combinations of them, there may, it is true, be added secondary pleasures; and in the practical enjoyment of works of art by the masses of mankind these secondary pleasures play a great part. The more classic one’s taste is, however, the less relatively important are the secondary pleasures felt to be, in comparison with those of the primary sensation as it comes in. Classicism and romanticism have their battles over this point. Complex suggestiveness, the awakening of vistas of memory and association, and the stirring of our flesh with picturesque mystery and gloom, make a work of art romantic. The classic taste brands these effects as coarse and tawdry, and prefers the naked beauty of the optical and auditory sensations, unadorned with frippery or foliage. To the romantic mind, on the contrary, the immediate beauty of these sensations seems dry and thin. I am of course not discussing which view is right, but only showing that the discrimination between the primary feeling of beauty, as a pure incoming sensible quality, and the secondary emotions which are grafted thereupon, is one that must be made.

Why do we run away if we notice that we are in danger? Because we are afraid of what will happen if we don’t. This obvious (and incorrect) answer to a seemingly trivial question has been the central concern of a century-old debate about the nature of our emotions.

It all began in 1884 when William James published an article titled “What Is an Emotion?” The article appeared in a philosophy journal called Mind, as there were no psychology journals yet. It was important, not because it definitively answered the question it raised, but because of the way in which William James phrased his response. William James conceived of an emotion in terms of a sequence of events that starts with the occurrence of an arousing stimulus {the sympathetic nervous system or the parasympathetic nervous system}; and ends with a passionate feeling, a conscious emotional experience. A major goal of emotion research is still to elucidate this stimulus-to-feeling sequence—to figure out what processes come between the stimulus and the feeling.

William James set out to answer his question by asking another: do we run from a bear because we are afraid or are we afraid because we run? William James proposed that the obvious answer, that we run because we are afraid, was wrong, and instead argued that we are afraid because we run:
Our natural way of thinking about… emotions is that the mental perception of some fact excites the mental affection called emotion, and that this latter state of mind gives rise to the bodily expression. My thesis on the contrary is that the bodily changes follow directly the PERCEPTION of the exciting fact, and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion (called ‘feeling’ by Damasio).

The essence of William James’ proposal was simple. It was premised on the fact that emotions are often accompanied by bodily responses (racing heart, tight stomach, sweaty palms, tense muscles, and so on; sympathetic nervous system) and that we can sense what is going on inside our body much the same as we can sense what is going on in the outside world. According to William James, emotions feel different from other states of mind because they have these bodily responses that give rise to internal sensations, and different emotions feel different from one another because they are accompanied by different bodily responses and sensations. For example, when we see William James’ bear, we run away. During this act of escape, the body goes through a physiological upheaval: blood pressure rises, heart rate increases, pupils dilate, palms sweat, muscles contract in certain ways (evolutionary, innate defense mechanisms). Other kinds of emotional situations will result in different bodily upheavals. In each case, the physiological responses return to the brain in the form of bodily sensations, and the unique pattern of sensory feedback gives each emotion its unique quality. Fear feels different from anger or love because it has a different physiological signature {the parasympathetic nervous system for love}. The mental aspect of emotion, the feeling, is a slave to its physiology, not vice versa: we do not tremble because we are afraid or cry because we feel sad; we are afraid because we tremble and are sad because we cry.

One of the long-standing schisms in the philosophy of history concerns the role of individuals in social change.

One faction sees individuals (“heroes” as Thomas Carlyle called them) as the motive power of history, and the broader society as the page on which they write their acts. The other sees society as moving according to holistic principles or laws, and sees individuals as its more-or-less willing pawns. In 1880, William James waded into this controversy with “Great Men and Their Environment,” an essay published in the Atlantic Monthly. William James took Carlyle’s side, but without Carlyle’s one-sided emphasis on the political/military sphere, upon heroes as the founders or overthrowers of states and empires.

“Rembrandt must teach us to enjoy the struggle of light with darkness,” William James wrote. “Wagner to enjoy peculiar musical effects; Dickens gives a twist to our sentimentality, Artemus Ward to our humor; Emerson kindles a new moral light within us.”

In 1909 William James published Expériences d’un Psychiste, a book which he relates many experiments that he had with the medium Leonora Piper. William James’ first commentary about Piper, however, was published in Science:

In the trances of this medium, I cannot resist the conviction that knowledge appears which she has never gained by the ordinary waking use of her eyes and ears and wits.

William James gave more detailed informations about his first experiments with Piper in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research:

I made Mrs. Piper’s acquaintance in the autumn of 1885. My wife’s mother, Mrs. Gibbens, had been told of her by a friend, during the previous summer, and never having seen a medium before, had paid her a visit out of curiosity. Mrs Piper returned with the statement that Mrs. P. had given her a long string of names of members of the family, mostly Christian names, together with facts about the persons mentioned and their relations to each other, the knowledge of which on her part was incomprehensible without supernormal powers. My sister-in-law went the next day, with still better results, as she related them. Amongst other things, the medium had accurately described the circumstances of the writer of a letter which she held against her forehead, after Miss G. had given it to her. The letter was in Italian, and its writer was known to but 2 persons in this country. [I may add that on a later occasion my wife and I took another letter from this same person to Mrs. P., who went on to speak of him in a way which identified him unmistakably again. On a third occasion, 2 years later, my sister-in-law and I being again with Mrs. P., she reverted in her trance to these letters, and then gave us the writer’s name, which she said she had not been able to get on the former occasion.] But to revert to the beginning. I remember playing the esprit fort on that occasion before my feminine relatives, and seeking to explain, by simple considerations the marvellous character of the facts which they brought back. This did not, however, prevent me from going myself a few days later, in company with my wife, to get a direct personal impression. The names of none of us up to this meeting had been announced to Mrs. P., and Mrs. J. and I were, of course, careful to make no reference to our relatives who had preceded. The medium, however, when entranced, repeated most of the names of ” spirits” whom she had announced on the 2 former occasions and added others. The names came with difficulty, and were only gradually made perfect. My wife’s father’s name of Gibbens was announced first as Niblin, then as Giblin. A child Herman (whom we had lost the previous year) had his name spelt out as Herrin. I think that in no case were both Christian and surnames given on this visit. But the facts predicated of the persons named made it in many instances impossible not to recognise the particular individuals who were talked about. We took particular pains on this occasion to give the Phinuit control no help over his difficulties and to ask no leading questions. In the light of subsequent experience I believe this not to be the best policy. For it often happens, if you give this trance-personage a name or some small fact for the lack of which he is brought to a standstill, that he will then start off with a copious flow of additional talk, containing in itself an abundance of ” tests.” My impression after this first visit was, that Mrs. P. was either possessed of supernormal powers, or knew the members of my wife’s family by sight and had by some lucky coincidence become acquainted with such a multitude of their domestic circumstances as to produce the startling impression which she did. My later knowledge of her sittings and personal acquaintance with her has led me absolutely to reject the latter explanation, and to believe that she has supernormal powers.

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Dyslexia Series-Disabled Legend Patricia Polacco

Patricia Polacco was born on 11 July 1944 in Lansing, Michigan, USA. Patricia is the author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children.

Although she struggled in school and was unable to read until age 14 due to dyslexia, she found relief by expressing herself through art. Patricia Polacco endured teasing and hid her disability until a schoolteacher recognised that she could not read and began to help her. Thank you, Mr Falker is Patricia Polacco’s retelling of this encounter and its outcome.

The early years of Patricia’s childhood were spent at her grandmother’s farm in Union City, Michigan, the setting for many of her published stories. The farm, originally called The Plantation was established in 1859 and was part of the Underground Railroad. President Lincoln actually visited the home during his presidency. A meteorite that fell into the front yard of that farm “(Meteor!)”is now used as their family’s headstone. Although Patricia’s grandmother died in 1949, when Patricia was only 5, “babushka,” or grandmother, nevertheless appears in several of Patricia’s books.

After her grandmother’s death, the family moved to Coral Gables, Florida Coral Gables, and then 3 years later to Oakland, California. Patricia’s parents had divorced when she was 3, and she and her brother therefore spent their early life living in two places: school years with their father and grandparents in the multicultural environment of Oakland, California and summers with their mother and her parents on a farm in Michigan. Patricia had a very difficult time in school and did not learn to read until she was nearly 14. In junior high school, one of her teachers finally discovered that dyslexia was the reason for her difficulties. Patricia wrote “When Lightning comes in a jar” as a tribute to her babushka, and her Detroit tiger cousin Billy Polacco.

Following the 40-year absence from the home of her youth, Patricia returned to Union City, where she currently resides. Patricia’s home is often opened up to the public for writing seminars and children’s literature festivals. Patricia does all of her own illustrations, and since she does not own a computer, responds to all letters with a hand-written reply. Whenever Patricia speaks with children, her advice is always the same: “Turn off the TV and LISTEN…LISTEN…LISTEN.” Patricia Polacco used to babysit Tom Hanks. Patricia Polacco was a good friend of pupeteer Frank Oz when in school. Patricia mentioned at an assembly in Amelia Earhart School that his first puppet was Paper Bag Man.

Literary Awards

1988 Sydney Taylor Book Award for The Keeping Quilt

1989 International Reading Association Award for Rechenka’s Eggs

March 10th 1990 Santa Clara Reading Council

Author’s Hall of Fame

Commonwealth Club of California Recognition of Excellence for

1990 Babushka’s Doll

1992 Chicken Sunday (Nov. 14th 1992 declared Chicken Sunday)

1992 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

Golden Kite Award for Illustration for Chicken Sunday

1992 Boston Area Educators for Social Responsibility

Children’s Literature and Social Responsibility Award

Nov. 9th 1993 Jane Adams Peace Assoc. and Women’s Intl. League for Peace and Freedom Awards

Honor Award for Mrs. Katz and Tush for it’s effective contribution to peace and social justice.

Parent’s Choice Honors

1991 Some Birthday

1997 Video/Dream Keeper

1998 Thank You, Mr. Falker

1996 North Dakota Library Association Children’s Book Award for My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother

1996 Jo Osborne Award for Humor in Children’s Literature

1997 Missouri Association of School Librarians

Show Me Readers Award for My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother

1997 West Virginia Children’s Book Award for Pink and Say

1998 Mid-South Independent Booksellers for Children Humpty Dumpty Award

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