William James on the Courage to Believe

Front Cover
Fordham Univ Press, 1997 - Philosophy - 223 pages
0 Reviews
William James's celebrated lecture on "The Will to Believe" has kindled spirited controversy since the day it was delivered. In this lively reappraisal of that controversy, Father O'Connell contributes some fresh contentions: that James's argument should be viewed against his indebtedness to Pascal and Renouvier; that it works primarily to validate our "over-beliefs"; and most surprising perhaps, that James envisages our "passional nature" as intervening, not after, but before and throughout, our intellectual weighting of the evidence for belief. For this second edition, Father O'Connell has added extensively to sharpen his arguments: that James's "deontological streak" saves him from "wishful thinking" and weaves together the attitudes of right, readiness, willingness, and will to believe, and that "willing faith" lends "the facts" their aura of believability.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Selected pages

Contents

Introduction
1
The Argument of The Will to Believe
7
On Matter and Manner
23
James and Pascal
33
Is It Wishful Thinking?
53
Outcomes and Overbeliefs
70
The Preclusive Force of Overbeliefs
84
The Strata of the Passional
92
The Metaphors of Belief
107
On Becoming Humanly Wise
123
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 5 - I cannot do so for this plain reason, that a. rule of thinking which would absolutely prevent me from acknowledging certain kinds of truth if those kinds of truth were really there, would be an irrational rule.
Page 5 - ... acquaintance. This feeling, forced on us we know not whence, that by obstinately believing that there are gods (although not to do so would be so easy both for our logic and our life) we are doing the universe the deepest service we can, seems part of the living essence of the religious hypothesis. If the hypothesis were true in all its parts, including this one, then pure...
Page 4 - ... forever withheld from us unless we met the hypothesis halfway. To take a trivial illustration: just as a man who in a company of gentlemen made no advances, asked a warrant for every concession, and believed no one's word without proof, would cut himself off by such churlishness from all the social rewards that a more trusting spirit would earn, - so here, one who should shut himself up in snarling logicality and try to make the gods exhort his recognition willy-nilly, or not get it at all, might...
Page 1 - There are, then, cases where a fact cannot come at all unless a preliminary faith exists in its coming. And where faith in a fact can help create the fact, that would be an insane logic which should say that faith running ahead of scientific evidence is the 'lowest kind of immorality' into which a thinking being can fall.
Page 3 - ... exact position. He is actively playing his stake as much as the believer is; he is backing the field against the religious hypothesis, just as the believer is backing the religious hypothesis against the field. To preach scepticism to us as a duty until

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1997)

Robert J. O'Connell is Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University. He is a leading Augustinian scholar.

Bibliographic information