New User Special Price Expires in

Let's log you in.

Sign in with Facebook


Don't have a StudySoup account? Create one here!


Create a StudySoup account

Be part of our community, it's free to join!

Sign up with Facebook


Create your account
By creating an account you agree to StudySoup's terms and conditions and privacy policy

Already have a StudySoup account? Login here

Reading Notes - The Will to Believe

by: Sydney Dowd

Reading Notes - The Will to Believe Phil 2010 016

Marketplace > Georgia State University > Phil 2010 016 > Reading Notes The Will to Believe
Sydney Dowd
GPA 4.0

Preview These Notes for FREE

Get a free preview of these Notes, just enter your email below.

Unlock Preview
Unlock Preview

Preview these materials now for free

Why put in your email? Get access to more of this material and other relevant free materials for your school

View Preview

About this Document

[EDIT MARCH 23 - The definitions for empiricists and absolutists are REVERSED!!] - The definitions: empiricists think that you may know what's true, but not know that you know the truth, while abs...
Introduction to Philosophy
Aaron Cochran
Class Notes
philosophy, ethics, will, belief, religion
25 ?




Popular in Introduction to Philosophy

Popular in Department

This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sydney Dowd on Wednesday March 9, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Phil 2010 016 at Georgia State University taught by Aaron Cochran in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 66 views.


Reviews for Reading Notes - The Will to Believe


Report this Material


What is Karma?


Karma is the currency of StudySoup.

You can buy or earn more Karma at anytime and redeem it for class notes, study guides, flashcards, and more!

Date Created: 03/09/16
Reading Notes – “The Will to Believe” by William James, 9 March 2016 Choices To be genuine, choices must… ­ be live (have some appeal to each person they’re proposed to) ­ be forced (have no option C, either/or decision) ­ be momentous (unique opportunity, significant, nonreversible decision)   In a genuine option… ­ you have lots to lose by fearing mistakes, less to gain Beliefs  Not chosen, just had ­ We could not choose to believe things we know to be false  Modeled after authority figures / leaders ­ We accept what we’re told     Pure logic does not decide our beliefs ­ “Passional” tendencies come before or after belief (emotional)      When we have genuine options that cannot be decided through intellect, we must rely on  emotional/passional nature Empiricists / Absolutists   Empiricists do not know when they have found truth, absolutists do  We should try to overcome our natural tendency to be empiricist   We should try to become more absolutist (AKA – continually searching for truth)   Faith in truth’s existence obtained in two ways  ­ empiricist (most popular in science) ­ absolutist (philosophy) Truth  We want to believe that there is truth, and that our human progress brings us closer to it  Truth = passionate affirmation of desire in which our social system backs us up  There is only once certain truth : consciousness exists  We have two differences from scholastics in system for determining if something is true 1. The strength of the scholastic system is in the principles/origin 2. The strength of “our” system is in the outcome  There are 2 commandments / duties  ­ know truth, avoid error “Not so are victories either over enemies or over nature gained. Our errors are surely not such  awfully solemn things. In a world where we are so certain to incur them in spite of all our caution, a  certain lightness of heart seems healthier than this excessive nervousness on their behalf.”   Necessary steps of passion 1. Think as to avoid dupery / being deceived  2. Think to gain truth  To save self from believing falsehood  do not decide until objective evidence arises  Science and Religion “Science has organized this nervousness into a regular technique, her so­called method of verification,  and she has fallen so deeply in love with the method that one may even say that she has ceased to  care for truth at all.”  ­ Science is only interested in technically verified truth  But faith preceding scientific evidence occurs all the time, and thus is not so ridiculous  ­ example: you believe yourself less likely to be brutally attacked in a busy area  ­ This is where science is wrong to judge?   Science says: Some things exist  Morality says: Some things are better than others  Religion says:  1. The best things are more eternal things, things which have the “final word” 2. We are better off (even in this imperfect world) by believing in above Religion  The choice of Religion is  1. Momentous (we are supposed to gain by losing unbelief, a vital good) 2. Forced (we cannot escape it by waiting for more evidence because, if religion were true, we are losing out by waiting JUST AS we would by not believing)   Skepticism in religion = not an avoidance of opinion, but choice of certain kind of risk ­ better loss of truth than error?  Agnosticism doesn’t work because it is purely intellectual, while acknowledging the existence of a deity is supposed to be a good of/for the universe which requires our “willing nature”  ­ “Willing nature” allows us to “acknowledge certain kinds of truth if those kinds of truth really were there.”  ­ Denying the use or existence of our willing nature regarding religion = agnosticism = irrational “The freedom to believe can only cover living options which the intellect of the individual cannot by itself resolve.”  “Since belief is measured by action, he who forbids us to believe religion to be true also forbids us to act as we should if we did believe [religion] to be true.”  “We ought, on the contrary, delicately and profoundly to respect one another’s mental freedom: then only shall we bring about the intellectual republic; then only shall we have that spirit of inner tolerance without which our outer tolerance is soulless…then only shall we live and let live, in speculative as practical things.”  End point­summarizing quote:  “If a man chooses to turn his back altogether on God and the future, no one can prevent him; no one can show beyond reasonable doubt that he is mistaken. If a man thinks otherwise and acts as he thinks, I do not see that any one can prove that he is mistaken. Each must act as he thinks best; and if he is wrong, so much the worse for him. We stand on a mountain pass in the midst of whirling snow and blinding mist through which we get glimpses now and then of paths which may be deceptive. If we stand still we shall be frozen to death. If we take the wrong road we shall be dashed to pieces. We do not certainly know whether there is any right one. What must we do? ' Be strong and of a good courage.' Act for the best, hope for the best, and take what comes. . . . If death ends all, we cannot meet death better." [Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, p. 353, second edition. London, 1874.]  


Buy Material

Are you sure you want to buy this material for

25 Karma

Buy Material

BOOM! Enjoy Your Free Notes!

We've added these Notes to your profile, click here to view them now.


You're already Subscribed!

Looks like you've already subscribed to StudySoup, you won't need to purchase another subscription to get this material. To access this material simply click 'View Full Document'

Why people love StudySoup

Bentley McCaw University of Florida

"I was shooting for a perfect 4.0 GPA this semester. Having StudySoup as a study aid was critical to helping me achieve my goal...and I nailed it!"

Janice Dongeun University of Washington

"I used the money I made selling my notes & study guides to pay for spring break in Olympia, Washington...which was Sweet!"

Jim McGreen Ohio University

"Knowing I can count on the Elite Notetaker in my class allows me to focus on what the professor is saying instead of just scribbling notes the whole time and falling behind."


"Their 'Elite Notetakers' are making over $1,200/month in sales by creating high quality content that helps their classmates in a time of need."

Become an Elite Notetaker and start selling your notes online!

Refund Policy


All subscriptions to StudySoup are paid in full at the time of subscribing. To change your credit card information or to cancel your subscription, go to "Edit Settings". All credit card information will be available there. If you should decide to cancel your subscription, it will continue to be valid until the next payment period, as all payments for the current period were made in advance. For special circumstances, please email


StudySoup has more than 1 million course-specific study resources to help students study smarter. If you’re having trouble finding what you’re looking for, our customer support team can help you find what you need! Feel free to contact them here:

Recurring Subscriptions: If you have canceled your recurring subscription on the day of renewal and have not downloaded any documents, you may request a refund by submitting an email to

Satisfaction Guarantee: If you’re not satisfied with your subscription, you can contact us for further help. Contact must be made within 3 business days of your subscription purchase and your refund request will be subject for review.

Please Note: Refunds can never be provided more than 30 days after the initial purchase date regardless of your activity on the site.