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Grand Theories and Everyday BeliefsScience, Philosophy, and their Histories$
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Wallace Matson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812691

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812691.001.0001

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The “Will to Believe”

The “Will to Believe”

(p.45) Chapter 5 The “Will to Believe”
Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Wallace Matson

Oxford University Press

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

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