William James’ third son, Herman, died of whooping cough at the age of 18 months. Some 22 years later, James wrote in Pragmatism (he was 65):
To anyone who has ever looked on the face of a dead child or parent, the mere fact that matter could have taken for a time that precious form, ought to make matter sacred for ever after. It makes no difference what the principle of life may be, material or immaterial, matter at any rate co-operates, lends itself to all life’s purposes. That beloved incarnation was among matter’s possibilities.