An analysis of the will to believe a lecture by william james

By which James means that it is only things we already disbelieve that we are unable to believe at will.

William james the will to believe analysis and summary

He is willing to go out on a limb, to risk being wrong, when this is the only way to place oneself in a position to know the truth. James gives self-fulfilling beliefs as one example of such beliefs: "Do you like me or not? Believe nothing, he tells us, keep your mind in suspense forever, rather than by closing it on insufficient evidence incur the awful risk of believing lies. I'd like to talk about a simple argument[br]for the conclusion that it's wrong. A more plausible kind of pragmatism would hold that we have, not two laws but rather two values which carry different weights in different circumstances, making use of Bayesian ideas and decision theory Hookway , Levi At any rate, it seems the fittest thing for the empiricist philosopher. Unlike Pascal, James does not directly appeal to our concern for future happiness, although the arguments do have a number of affinities. Epistemic virtues are varies, but we would expect that success in our reasoning and inquiry depends upon possessing traits such as curiosity, open-mindedness, and other traits. The reason James takes himself as able to rationally justify positions often not believed to be verifiable under any method, is how important he thinks believing something can be for the verifying of that belief. So I want to discuss whether,[br]assuming that there's no evidence for God's existence, it's wrong to believe that he exists. He saves as much of it as he can, for in this matter of belief we are all extreme conservatives.

So, as the ship leaves the harbor, he has no worries in[br]his mind, he's convinced that the ship is in good condition. He suggests that taking this seriously was indispensable if we are to recognize what is wrong with many of the criticisms made of pragmatism. In this case, it would[br]seem to be a good idea for Rupert to make himself believe that his date likes him if he can.

Whenever you form a belief,[br]you risk believing a falsehood. In a world where we are so certain to incur them in spite of all our caution, a certain lightness of heart seems healthier than this excessive nervousness on their behalf.

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This opens up a range of interesting issues about just what constitutes a reason for doubting a stably held belief. Whether they are the whole of his argument may be less clear. We may suppose that in different contexts, different amounts of evidence will count as sufficient.

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If I offer you the option of whether to jump around like a rabbit or quack like a duck, you can easily decline the offer. If I can bring myself to believe that I will succeed, then I am not irrational to do so. In this way, to acquire evidence for religious belief, we must first have believers who adopt such belief without sufficient evidence. As a young man he was devout. So, conclusion: It's wrong[br]to believe that God exists. In that case, an ignoble desire to be free from worry generates the comforting thought that everything will be ok. In this case, the noble desire for racial equality generates a faith that the movement will succeed. You can entertain the hypothesis. Clifford once again insists that the owner is just as guilty of a great wrong as in the previous case. As is well known, Clifford used this principle to mandate agnosticism about religious matters. Such views have taken a number of different forms. It is like a general informing his soldiers that it is better to keep out of battle forever than to risk a single wound. For example, in the following passage James utilizes his doctrine to justify a belief that "this is a moral world": It cannot then be said that the question, "Is this a moral world? Well, there was a famous[br]interchange on this topic in the 19th century which[br]I'd like to talk about.

In the one corner,[br]William Kingdon Clifford argued that belief without[br]evidence is immoral. However, James in fact gives in this section a crucial bit of argumentation: "There are two ways of looking at our duty in the matter of opinion—ways entirely different, and yet ways about whose difference the theory of knowledge seems hitherto to have shown very little concern.

The will to believe william james quizlet

Not so are victories either over enemies or over nature gained. Second premise: If there is no evidence that God exists, it's wrong[br]to believe that he does. Any question is full of meaning to which, as here, contrary answers lead to contrary behavior. Society is a collaboration. But from a moral point of view they are on a par. His most famous stunt[br]was that once, on a dare, he climbed the church spire and hung upside down from the weather cock. If you believe, you will launch the revolution which promises great benefits but risks great costs. The option to believe or not to believe is live, forced, and momentous. However, for many of our beliefs, we can provide no positive justification at all. He'll be more relaxed,[br]and so the conversation will be pleasant and they'll[br]both have a good evening. James states: "The absolutists in this matter say that we not only can attain to knowing truth, but we can know when we have attained to knowing it, while the empiricists think that although we may attain it, we cannot infallibly know when. Clifford said that the[br]shipowner is responsible for the deaths of the people on the ferry. First premise: There is no[br]evidence that God exists.

He wrote, "That shape am[br]I, I felt potentially. Clifford said that the[br]shipowner is responsible for the deaths of the people on the ferry. Believe nothing, he tells us, keep your mind in suspense forever, rather than by closing it on insufficient evidence incur the awful risk of believing lies.

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The Will to Believe