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William James on the Courage to Believe - Fordham Scholarship Online
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William James on the Courage to Believe

Robert J. O'Connell


William James' celebrated lecture on “The Will to Believe” has kindled spirited controversy since the day it was delivered. In this lively reappraisal of that controversy, the author contributes some fresh contentions: that James' argument should be viewed against his indebtedness to Blaise Pascal and Charles Bernard 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 weighing of the evidence for belief.

Keywords: William James, belief, Charles Bernard Renouvier, Blaise Pascal

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 1997 Print ISBN-13: 9780823217274
Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2019 DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823217274.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Robert J. O'Connell, author
Fordham University