Chapter

The “Will to Believe”

Wallace Matson

in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199812691
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919420 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812691.003.0005
The “Will to Believe”

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Language, by making possible high beliefs, makes possible some control of belief by the believer: wishful thinking. People can decide to accept or reject testimony. This is faith, the acceptance of another person's testimony without further corroboration and notwithstanding contrary evidence. Faith is transitive, usually a consequence of bonding. In the hunter-gatherer band of 40 it is ‘natural;’ will plays little or no part. Elsewhere it is generated like falling in love, indeed may be the same process. - Marxists and deconstructionists claim that all belief (except theirs) is motivated, hence a species of faith. This is too extreme. - William James's classic discussion is vitiated by confusion with self-confidence.

Keywords: will; evidence; faith; William James; self-confidence; testimony; high belief; motive

Chapter.  1479 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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