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Letter from Boris Sidis to William James
Monday, October 9, 1905
Dear Prof. James,
Freudís little volume is "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life." His "Traumdetung" may also be of interest to you. It seems to me itís too sweeping a statement that there is no chance element in our life experience. In fact, the opposite point of view could be taken and with greater force. I have tried to follow out some of its lines suggested―in thoughts and dreams―and it seems to me that the reasonable element is but an insignificant portion, a pin point, of our psychic life. Chance and not reason rules the world. Reasonís function is often a kind of chanceís handmaid to justify what has come to pass. In fact much of our "reason" in science is just this chance element locked into shape and form. Even the father of idealists, Plato, could not help finding an irreducible, irrational element in the world the matter of our . . . Unfortunately, its matter is quite bulky and weighty.
If, however, itís disheartening to "reason" to meet with so much chance, there is another redeeming side in regard to possibilities and liberty which the foreordained mathematical tables of "reason" would preclude. What value would we put on our life, present and future, if one could calculate it and arrange the future happenings in some sort of nautical almanac? Everything would be calculated and forecast like the phases of the moon or the courses of the stars. But where would be our individuality, that chance element most dear to and most valued by us?
Yours as ever