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Sample Essay on the Will to Believe

Will to Believe

The Will to Believe asserts the adoption of a belief without prior evidence of its truth. The philosophy is mainly about defending the rationality of religious faith even lacking sufficient evidence of religious truth. It aims at the justification of faith, a defense of our right to adopt a believing attitude in religious matters, in spite of the fact that our merely logical intellect may not have been coerced. According The Will to Believe is a lecture that was first published by William James in 1896.

The central argument of William James in this lecture touches on the idea that access to the evidence for whether or not some beliefs are true depends on crucially upon first adopting the those beliefs without evidence. For instance, James urges that it can be rational to have unsupported faith in one’s ability to accomplish tasks that require confidence. Importantly, James points out that this is the case even for pursuing scientific inquiry. Besides, he further argues that like belief in one’s own ability to accomplish a difficult task, religious faith can also be rational even if one at time lacks evidence for the truth of one’s religious belief.

In the opening statements, James points out that most free thinking people do not usually believe that one should Image 2have religious faith since it cannot be rationally demonstrated. James believes differently. One is that faith is sensible, though not rationally demanded. He argues that one does not choose his or her beliefs but just has them. He further defends this this claim with a series of examples focusing on how we could not choose to believe things which we know to be false, such as that Abraham Lincoln did not live or that you are not sick when you are not sick when you are.

According to James, we often look towards leaders and the authorities, and model our beliefs after theirs. We believe and do not know why; we often accept what we have been told. Despite the length to which he discusses free will, but he is not too clear on this point. It should be noted that there are passional tendencies and violations which can come before and after a belief. Most importantly, James argues that like belief in one’s own ability to accomplish a difficult task, religious faith can also be rational even if one at the time lacks evidence for the truth of one’s religious beliefs.

In order to understand well the Will to Believe, James proposes that one needs to apply abstract and concrete way of thinking. In terms of abstract, we have the right to believe at our own risk any hypothesis that is alive enough to tempt our will. In a concrete way of thinking, the freedom to believe can only cover living options which the intellect cannot through itself resolve; and living options never seem absurdities to him who has them to consider. On conclusion, James points out that whether we choose to believe or not to believe, or wait to believe, we choose our own peril, our own fate.

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