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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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The Argument of “The Will to Believe”

The Argument of “The Will to Believe”

(p.7) 1 The Argument of “The Will to Believe”
William James on the Courage to Believe

Robert J. O'Connell

Fordham University Press

This chapter traces Williams James' argument, pointing up its crucial turnings, its sometimes subtle shifts in logic or meaning of terms, and calling the reader's attention to those features which, more generally ignored or slighted by previous writers, become important for the qualified defense of James. The chapter examines how James is seemingly betraying an uneasiness about his preceding definition of religion—a definition so “generic and broad” as to drain it of all the juices that should flow through a truly momentous hypothesis. One might object that James is about to present not merely a “further,” but a more particular, even an accidental, form of the religious hypothesis he first felt it necessary to keep generic and broad; but that might be caviling.

Keywords:   William James, logic, terms, religion, hypothesis, religious hypothesis

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