The Will To Believe (1896) by William James

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essays in pragmatismThis essay is not about why having religious beliefs is good; it’s about why having religious beliefs isn’t bad. That, and some cool dating advice.

It’s one of seven essays in the book, Essays in Pragmatism by William James (The Hafner Library of Classics, 1948).

In our day of resurgent atheism it’s rare to come across a philosopher who argues for the legitimacy of religious belief. As one who aspires to be a person of faith I was delighted to read The Will To Believe by American philosopher William James. Too bad it’s 119 years old.

This dandy 21 page lecture—he calls it a sermon—given in 1896 to the Philosophical Clubs at Yale and Brown Universities inspires me. His outline includes ten sections which he didn’t name. For convenience sake I’ve given each section a descriptive title.

Click here for a 6 page summary. The Will To Believe

 

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