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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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James and Pascal

James and Pascal

(p.33) 3 James and Pascal
William James on the Courage to Believe

Robert J. O'Connell

Fordham University Press

This chapter focuses on William James' relationship to Blaise Pascal. One of the fiercest critics of James' contentions has gotten considerable mileage out of viewing his lecture through the lens provided by the famous Wager argument from Pascal's Pensées. The chapter shows that the view John Hick takes of Pascal, and the attitude he assumes James had to Pascal's Wager, color his entire criticism. It also aims to point out that a more careful study of the Pensées, combined with a wider and more sensitive appreciation of James' attitude toward that work, warrants scholars' drawing conclusions quite the reverse of those which Hick would urge upon them.

Keywords:   William James, Blaise Pascal, Wager argument, John Hick, criticism, scholars

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