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William James on the Courage to Believe$
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Robert J. O'Connell

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780823217274

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823217274.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
William James on the Courage to Believe

Robert J. O'Connell

Fordham University Press

This introductory chapter discusses how William James' “The Will to Believe” has stimulated adverse criticisms, some of them fierce, as well as equally impassioned essays in defense. Philosophers naturally come at an essay of this sort with their own preoccupations, priorities, and methodological suppositions. One reason for the variety of criticisms and defenses of “The Will to Believe” is that critics and defenders are not always reading the same lecture, or reading it in the same way. Beyond that, the chapter shows that there are elements in James' argument to which almost none of them attributes the importance that they held for James himself.

Keywords:   William James, The Will to Believe, philosophers, methodological suppositions, critics, defenders

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