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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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Outcomes and Over-beliefs

Outcomes and Over-beliefs

(p.70) 5 Outcomes and Over-beliefs
William James on the Courage to Believe

Robert J. O'Connell

Fordham University Press

This chapter explains how both critics and defenders share a number of assumptions about how William James' central thesis should be understood. They regularly suppose that the validity of his contentions can be tested by application to “outcome” cases. The chapter strives to show that the thesis of “The Will to Believe” legitimately applies only to what James called “over-beliefs,” or propositions of weltanschaulich dimensions. It explains that the task of ferreting out the implications of “The Will to Believe” leads to comparing it with the other popular lectures James delivered during this same period of his life, and no less swiftly to detecting several points of consistency that initially justified such comparisons.

Keywords:   William James, The Will to Believe, outcome cases, over-beliefs, weltanschaulich, lectures, consistency, comparisons

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