William James Biography and Psychology, He was the leading precursor of functionalist psychology. James was a Harvard University professor, primarily trained in physiology and medicine. Psychology and philosophy fascinated him, and he treated psychology as a natural science.
In 1875 he offered his first course in psychology. In 1890 he published “Principles of Psychology”, a two-volume book, which became a leading psychology text in the U.S. James wrote about the stream of consciousness, emotions, the self, habit formation, mind-body link and much more. He was also interested in will, values, religious and mystical experiences. James said: “We should study consciousness but should not reduce it into elements, content and structure”.
Acts and functions of mental processes need to be focused upon, rather than contents of the mind. Consciousness was an ongoing stream, and was in continual interaction with the environment. Careful observation is important; Wundt’s rigorous laboratory methods are of little value. James believed that each individual has a uniqueness that could not be reduced to formulas or numbers