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Religion: “The Will to Believe” by William James Essay


James’ classification of hypotheses as alive or dead and the types of options used in deciding between alternative hypotheses

A hypothesis can be classified as either alive or dead. According to James (1896), a living hypothesis appears as genuine and possible to the person or scenario to which it has been proposed. On the other hand, if a hypothesis is dead, it will not appear as a real possibility to the given contexts. According to James, the ability to declare a supposition as living or dead relies entirely on the experiences that people have encountered before. James argues that there are three options used in deciding between alternative hypotheses. These include the living option where hypotheses are live and hence real, the forced option, which is a dilemma and hypothesis cannot be avoided, and finally the momentous option, which is the unique option.

Why James does not believe it is rational to suspend the belief about the existence of God and religious matters

James points out that religious beliefs and the existence of God cannot be suspended due to various factors. First, religious beliefs are reinforcing societal ethics that act as life-changing assertions for people to be in control of their lives by taking individual responsibilities for their actions. Secondly, they promote social relations for the coexistence of human beings. Thirdly, religion gives direction to human life. Therefore, suspending belief in God’s existence and religious matters may limit pivotal genuine life-changing choices that human beings make (James, 1896).

James response about the practicality of Clifford’s claims about what we are permitted to believe

When Clifford argues that one should not believe what he has no evidence of, James points out that any rule of thought that prevents one from appreciating certain truths, which unquestionably exist is irrational (1896). According to James, one cannot test everything including what is insignificant. When Clifford says that one should not believe in God if he or she does not have sufficient reasons for doing so, James argues that, if people do not believe in God for such a reason, they would end up losing every good thing that comes with religion.

Reference

James, W. (1896). The Will to Believe. Yale and Brown Universities: New World.

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IvyPanda. "Religion: "The Will to Believe" by William James." January 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/religion-the-will-to-believe-by-william-james/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Religion: "The Will to Believe" by William James." January 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/religion-the-will-to-believe-by-william-james/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Religion: "The Will to Believe" by William James'. 14 January.

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