William James considered Swami Vivekananda the paragon of monists. Yet he comes to reject Vivekananda's philosophy as a result of monism's ineluctable philosophical conundrums and because it ultimately did not suit his active temperament. James's simplified assessment of Vivekananda's philosophy, however, reveals he had only a limited understanding of Vedānta. It can be speculated that James's understanding of Vedānta was mainly the aspect of rāja yoga (the science of psychic control)—which is evinced by the fact that he disagrees with what he perceives as a lack of ability to justify meliorism and a zestful life. But this conception of James's leaves out of consideration karma yoga—or the active principle of Vedānta—which advocates work as the means to realize the divine. Contra James's conception, it is more illustrative to understand Vedānta not as a doctrine of extreme “monism” but rather an attitude that cultivates every particular temperament and disposition. With this rectification, it becomes much clearer that there are significant parallels in viewpoints between James and Vivekananda that have been underappreciated.

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