Wednesday, February 06, 2019

The will to believe …

… William James and the Spiritualist’s Phone | Lapham’s Quarterly. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What we believe—whether in ghosts, or God, or our own human worth—doesn’t reflect the world but creates it. It shapes the way we act, and so shapes the environment we act upon. By choosing our beliefs, William once wrote, “we are voting for what sort of universe this shall intimately be.” Belief, in other words, is a form of suffrage. When common sense holds your life to be cheap, claiming “live beliefs” isn’t just an act of faith but an act of political courage.
This is a fine piece. I have problems with belief myself, because it involves reducing faith to formulas. Faith, it seems to me, means imaginatively engaging the doubt that necessarily accompanies being, something mere reason  is incapable of doing.

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