John Kaag - Sick Souls, Healthy Minds

IN-STORE Event with John Kaag, author of Sick, Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life
Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 7:00 pm
Event is limited to 25. Masks required.


Buy this Book Here

From the celebrated author of American Philosophy: A Love Story and Hiking with Nietzsche, a compelling introduction to the life-affirming philosophy of William James.

In 1895, William James, the father of American philosophy, delivered a lecture entitled "Is Life Worth Living?" It was no theoretical question for James, who had contemplated suicide during an existential crisis as a young man a quarter century earlier. Indeed, as John Kaag writes, "James's entire philosophy, from beginning to end, was geared to save a life, his life"―and that's why it just might be able to save yours, too. Sick Souls, Healthy Minds is a compelling introduction to James's life and thought that shows why the founder of pragmatism and empirical psychology―and an inspiration for Alcoholics Anonymous―can still speak so directly and profoundly to anyone struggling to make a life worth living.

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. In fact, all of James's pragmatism, resting on the idea that truth should be judged by its practical consequences for our lives, is a response to, and possible antidote for, crises of meaning that threaten to undo many of us at one time or another. Along the way, Kaag also movingly describes how his own life has been endlessly enriched by James.

Eloquent, inspiring, and filled with insight, Sick Souls, Healthy Minds may be the smartest and most important self-help book you'll ever read.


 Dr. John Kaag is the Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and Miller Scholar at the Santa Fe Institute. Dr. Kaag studied at the University of Cambridge and received his doctorate in American Philosophy from the University of Oregon. Kaag's engaging teaching style has earned him a number of awards including the University of Massachusetts Teaching Excellence Award and Harvard's Bok Center Award for Teaching Excellence. Kaag is the author of American Philosophy: A Love Story, one of NPR’s Best Books of 2016 and a New York Times Editor's Choice.

His book Hiking with Nietzsche, also an NPR Best Book, is the "dark" sequel to American Philosophy: A Love Story.

Kaag has written extensively in academic philosophy but his work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Paris Review and Harper's Magazine. I

In terms of philosophy and writing, Kaag follows thinkers like William James, believing that authors should go where the interesting questions are. The question is always, only, where to start. Kaag lives outside of Boston with his wife and two children.

Event date: 
Thursday, November 4, 2021 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
372 Chandler Street
Worcester, MA 01602
Sick Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780691192161
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Princeton University Press - March 17th, 2020

Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250234681
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - October 1st, 2019