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William James’ celebrated lecture on “The Will to Believe” has kindled spirited controversy since the day it was delivered. In this lively reappraisal of that controversy, Father O’Connell contributes some fresh contentions: that James’ argument should be viewed against his indebtedness to Pascal and Renouvier; that it works primarily to validate our “over-beliefs” ; and most surprising perhaps, that James envisages our “passional nature” as intervening, not after, but before and throughout, our intellectual weighing of the evidence for belief.
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About the Author
Robert J. O’Connell, S. J. was a Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University. His has five publications on St. Augustine, as well as several studies of Plato, William James, and Teilhard de Chardin. In 2015 he established the O’Connell established the O’Connell Initiative at Fordham, a forum for intellectual exploration, that brought together scholars of every aspect of capitalism.