William Clifford The Will To Believe Analysis

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I read both the William James article, “The Will to Believe,’’ and William Kingdon Clifford’s “The Ethics of Beliefs”. Each of these writings explained the author’s views on human’s and their belief systems. William James broke down belief into different category’s that certain beliefs could fall under. William Kingdon Clifford’s idea was much more straight to the point. Clifford states that if you do not have good evidence for something, then it must be wrong. I examined both articles closely and considered which one made the most sense to me. I believe that both authors, in their own way are correct, but I also found flaws in both William James paper and William Kingdon Clifford’s argument. William Kingdon Clifford states that a belief…show more content…
He does this by stating that beliefs should not just be one thing or the other, he thinks that they should be categorized. He then goes on to list these categories that he has developed for each belief. The categories are: live, dead, forced, avoidable, momentous, and trivial. Each of these categories has an opposite that opposes it - such as live and dead. A live belief is something that you strongly believe, a dead belief is something that you don’t know or have no knowledge of, so there is no way to believe in it. This is where William James counters William Kingdon Clifford’s statement about believing in God. In William James eyes, God is a living belief, so it is something that you strongly believe in that you don’t need evidence for. Forced is something that you cannot deny, and avoidable is something that you do not have to decide on. Next, there is momentous and trivial, these are decisions and beliefs that you do in your life. Trivial is a decision or belief that you make almost every day in your life, but momentous is a decision or belief that rarely comes into your life and can have a major impact on it. I do believe that this kind of organization of thoughts and beliefs is very smart and works very well. I think is a great way to be able to look at the beliefs and be able to analyze…show more content…
In William Kingdon Clifford’s argument I do agree with him when he says that if you are going to totally believe something that you should have good proof. I agree with this statement because you should not just fully dive in to believing something unless you have good evidence for it. I have confidence in this because if you don’t have good evidence for something it could have a bad effect on you. Following a belief blindly because you think it is true, could cause dire consequences. I think of the cult and sects in the past, such as Waco, where a charismatic leader brings his followers to their deaths. But then, following a belief blindly could lead to nothing happening to the follower at all. Where I start to disagree with William Kingdon Clifford is when he says your beliefs can directly lead your actions. I do not think this is totally true or valid, just because you believe something that does not mean that you are going to start acting differently because of it. Yes, there are cases where this has happened, but I do not think every small belief will drive you to do something because of it. Finally, when I looked at William James’s argument in “The Will to Believe”, I agreed with most of his points and his logic to put beliefs in a system of categories. I think that it worked well and the argument was sound. Because I do think that there is more

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