William James was a noted Human philosopher and author.

During a shuttlecraft trip to Starbase 515 in 2365, Jean-Luc Picard gave Wesley Crusher a book to read authored by James, prior to his Starfleet Academy entrance exams.

Wesley was only able to read some of it before their journey was completed, which disappointed Picard, who stated that "there's no greater challenge than the study of philosophy." Wesley, nevertheless doubted that James would be on his Starfleet exams, to which Picard replied, "The important things never will be. Anyone can be trained in the mechanics of piloting a starship. But Starfleet Academy, it takes more. Open your mind to the past – art, history, philosophy – and all this may mean something." (TNG: "Samaritan Snare")

In the script, Picard asked Wesley to consider James' wisdom with this quote, " not a technical is a sense of what life honestly means...our individual way of feeling the total push and pressure of the cosmos." Then, Picard expressed to Wesley that this was what he wanted for the young man.

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