Man of Two Minds

Topics: Louis Menand, William James, Free will Pages: 1 (280 words) Published: October 10, 2013
Lydia Dablah
English FSL
21 September 21, 2013
I Changed My Mind
Different people with different personalities and social histories contributed ideas that helped shape America life. In the excerpt, “The Man of Two Minds” from The Metaphysical Club, Louis Menand focuses on the brilliance of William James. According to his sister Alice, William James was “just like a blob of mercury.” (76). He was a talented artist, and his father protected him from getting close to the battlefield. Instead, he joined the Newport Artillery Company and later studied at the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard. James was indecisive about many choices he had to make. He frequently changed his mind, and the paths he took were unpredictable.

William James’ experiences portray how the choices and paths people take in life do not have to be permanent. Many people believe that their major in college will determine who they’ll be in the future. William James “spent fifteen years trying to settle on an occupation, switching from science to painting to science to painting again, then to chemistry, anatomy, natural history, and finally medicine.” (75). He didn’t follow just one career path. He was allowed to change his mind whenever his heart desired it. None of the choices he made had to be permanent. Even though he frequently changed his mind, James was adored by everybody he encountered: “’You cannot put a mental finger upon him.’ Yet everyone adored him.” (76). He wasn’t punished or hated for changing his mind so much. Instead, he was loved and supported. His experiences convey how life may lead people down limitless paths. There is nothing wrong with someone changing their mind in the middle of the road.
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