“The Will To Believe” Essay Sample
James claims that “a rule of thinking that will absolutely prevent him from acknowledging certain kinds of truth should be considered as an irrational rule”. In this statement, James tells his audience that there is a kind of religious tolerance that is based on a person’s right to believe at his or her own risk. James emphasized that such argument includes that of withholding truth from all propositions that a person has insufficient evidence may fall under such kind of rule of thinking. It simply means that we all are given the choice to take chance and search for the truth on our own. This is the same way that man deals with failures in life and the truths the he chooses to believe. James sends the message that we should be given the freedom to believe the things that we believe are true. He also highlighted on man’s faith for believing something even that person knows deep inside that it is not the truth.
James pointed out that religion shall be based on his own formula even if other people may have interpreted his statements to be theistic terms. However, there are still some who have rejected the theistic view of his hypothesis. In explicating his hypothesis, the readers can draw the relationship between man’s tendencies to believe and passional natures and know the difference between belief and action. It is in this line of argument that he explained what constitutes a forced option, in relation to belief and action. Based from this context, he concedes that there is difficulty of constructing the hypothesis by knowing what we believe and acting on it. He said that an individual may even contemplate on his theses and has the possibility of not choosing to believe. However, affirming or denying the truth of on the issue of religion means that one can adopt instead an agnostic stance and refuse to give either judgment. James tells his audience that his theory may be true for some people or some may consider it false. He stated that either the audience may accept this truth or go without it. With this simple explanation, he tells the audience that one has to make a choice and firmly stand by it since there is no standing place outside an alternative.
He argued that “a rule of thinking that will absolutely prevent him from acknowledging certain kinds of truth should be considered as an irrational rule” (James 24). Based from such statement, he informs the audience that religion is based on the person’s right to believe and such person will take risks in choosing what to believe. This can also means that such person can withhold the truth based on lack or insufficient evidence and the only way to validate the truth is to take the chance and search for the truth on his own. Man has different principles and beliefs in life just as the way he or she handles failures in life. James tells his audience that they have the freedom to believe something that appears to be true although they may doubts whether it is genuinely true or not.
James mentioned that to belief in the truth means taking considerations on whether or not what we see is indeed true or not by weighing the evidence presented before us. This statement will pertain to one’s religion or what we choose to believe. There are two difficulties that may be encountered when it comes to religion. The first issue arises upon consideration of the fact that a person seeks to attain the better life, but should consider the truth of religion’s ontological assertion and believe that it is true. The teachings of such religion will influence a person’s way of life and how he or she thinks and makes decisions. The second issue refers to the fact that whether man is better off by believing in his or her chosen religion’s ontological claim. There are instances when a person may have doubts and questions regarding religion, but will still be more passionate rather than become intellectual in resolving these doubts. Such matters will refer back to the religious hypothesis of James against his opponents claim by arguing that it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything, without any sufficient evidence to prove it as the basis of advantage.
With this mindset, James argues that a person may forfeit his or her chance to attain truth, if they become more open to relevant alternatives and considering the absence of compelling intellectual grounds to prove such claims. Such danger is irreversible if one chooses not to seek the truth and to accept things as what they appear to be. Each one of us is independent to figure out the facts of physical nature which are the subject matter of science to prove the truth (James 26). However, James believes that the pursuit of truth may be tedious and burdensome that man is left with no choice to accept what may appear to be true without sufficient evidence to support it.
Bruce, Michael and Steven Barbone.“The Will to Believe” by William James. Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosophy, 1st ed., New Jersey: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2011. Print.