William James 's View On Religious Belief Essay

William James 's View On Religious Belief Essay

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William James in his article, “The Will to Believe” criticized Clifford’s views that suggested that when forming an opinion, one should never go beyond his or her logic. James believes that human reasoning sometimes have to utilize other considerations apart from the available evidence. If our main goal is to have beliefs that are true as opposed to merely avoiding errors, then people should be able to believe without necessarily having to follow the evidence. James applies this to some areas in life, and he comes to discuss his alleged relevance of his view on religious belief in the last section of the article ( 'William James In Focus: Willing To Believe ').
The main thesis of James revolves in his argument that sometimes it is not ethical to believe when there is little or no evidence. The article has a descriptive component that explains that we cannot always postpone our beliefs as we wait for the moment when we can obtain sufficient evidence. The normative component of the article according to which he stipulates that in occasions when a person is faced with a genuine option, he or she should be able to believe without evidence. He bases his arguments in relation to the normative component on the pragmatic conception which states that beliefs can be translated to rules for an action. As a result, beliefs always have an intimate connection with our conduct and each belief contributes to the way we act in some circumstances.
Some of the beliefs may sometimes turn out to be of very little practical import. In actual sense, the course of our lives can run in the same way when we opt to believe or not to believe, if the belief does not actualize and have a direct effect on any of the situations that we face ( 'William James In...


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...sions when we choose either of them; we end up coloring our intellectual lives differently. As much as we may always regard the chase for the truth to be of paramount importance and avoidance of errors as a secondary event, one may choose to avoid errors and let the truth take its natural course. Believing nothing, however, may keep our minds in suspense for a long time or even for good. Therefore, it appears to be more appealing to believe on available evidence rather than risk in believing lies. One may think that the risk of being in a wrong situation is not a big issue as compared to the possession of real knowledge, and being ready to be held many times in investigations, rather than postponing the chance of guessing the truth. However, difficult objections appear because we cannot always hope to have evidence and also we cannot avoid committing errors in life.

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