(Painting by Robert McCall)
In his book Wittgenstein and William James,Russell Goodman makes a case that James influenced Wittgenstein's thought and he does so by detailing their shared commitment to concrete experience and actual practice over intellect. (Wittgenstein was also positively influenced by James's view of religion, especially by The Varieties of Religious Experience, but that's another can of worms.) Goodman's account is somewhat provocative simply because Wittgenstein and James are both considered to be major figures, but in separate philosophical traditions.
As Jaime Nubiola reported to the William James Society at Harvard:
In Philosophical Investigations James is quoted four times (as many as Frege), and The Principles of Psychology is alluded to more frequently than any other text in the entire course of the book. Peter Geach and his collaborators identified more than thirty passages of The Principles which have a parallel in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and in Zettel. Also, a great number of Wittgenstein's notes in his manuscripts 130-138 are related to James, although, as Schulte notices, its real Jamesian source is not always evident. In the roughly 120 notebook pages written from May through September of 1946, Wittgenstein argues with James intermittently but consistently, and such persistent interest for another author is absolutely exceptional in Wittgenstein. According to Monk, Wittgenstein had even thought of using The Principles as a course text in order to illustrate the conceptual confusions that he was trying to fight, but in the end, as he told Rhees, he preferred to talk just from his own head. In short, during his last years of his life Wittgenstein very often referred to James in his lectures, and, to everybody's astonishment, on one occasion he even referred to an exact page number!
As Charlene Seigfried puts it, paraphrasing James himself, intellectualism “became vicious already with Socrates and Plato, who deified conceptualization and denigrated the ever-changing flow of experience, thus forgetting and falsifying the origin of concepts as humanly constructed extracts from the temporal flux.” (379)
In A Pluralistic Universe, James says "this power of framing abstract concepts is one of the sublimest of our human prerogatives. ...It's no wonder that earlier thinkers, forgetting that concepts are only man-made extracts from the temporal flux, should have ended by treating them as a superior type of being, bright, changeless, true, divine and utterly opposed in nature to the turbid, restless lower world. The latter then appears as but their corruption and falsification." (728)