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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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Is It “Wishful Thinking”?

Is It “Wishful Thinking”?

(p.53) 4 Is It “Wishful Thinking”?
William James on the Courage to Believe

Robert J. O'Connell

Fordham University Press

This chapter looks at how William James seemingly provided mankind with neither more nor less than a reckless license for “wishful thinking.” It examines both the grounds that have been offered for that objection and the varied strategies that a number of James' defenders have adopted in answering it. The chapter also demonstrates how John Hick's criticism has succeeded in provoking reams of impassioned discussion. For the moment, though, it should be noted that he arrives at his remarkably economical distillation of James' argument, first, by ignoring a number of refinements that James considered important to making his case, and, secondly, by lifting his proof-quotations out of the refining contexts that lend them their exact point and bearing on the argument.

Keywords:   wishful thinking, William James, John Hick, criticism, discussion, proof-quotations, argument

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