and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy New
$9.63
Qty:1
  • List Price: $12.95
  • Save: $3.32 (26%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 20 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Will to Believe, Human Immortality, and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy Paperback – June 1, 1956


See all 11 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
Paperback, June 1, 1956
$9.63
$6.90 $0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"
$4.99

Best Books of the Year
See the Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.


Frequently Bought Together

The Will to Believe, Human Immortality, and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy + Pragmatism (Philosophical Classics)
Price for both: $10.63

Buy the selected items together
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Dover Edition edition (June 1, 1956)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486202917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486202914
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

I finally book the audio version.
e3Inc.
As great as these other works are, the essays of "The Will to Believe" remain touchstones for living according to pluralistic ideals.
Ben Kilpela
These works require careful reading.
Robin Friedman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Ben Kilpela on February 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have been asked a number of times which book is the best to read to begin studying William James, and I always recommend "The Will to Believe and Other Essays". (There is also an older paperback edited by Ralph Barton Perry called "Williams James, Essays on Faith and Morals", which I would recommend as an alternative, since it contains some of the same important, famous essays, as well as some stunning later ones and the central "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings", James's seminal plea for intellectual and social tolerance.) Both contain a number of the major essays of James, which are much more popular in style and treatment of subject than his "bigger" books, and present important living ideas and applications of those living ideas that need to be heard in modern times. Their advice and counsel is as unquestionably germane to living in our world as it was to living in James's. Just to refer to one great essay, "Is Life Worth Living?" is one of the greatest pieces of popular philosophic literature ever written, and is a striking and cogent and "sunny" discussion of many of the philosophical themes (particularly existentialism) that came considerably later and came to dominate modern thought. Who could not be stunned, thrilled, and bound to rethink every thought one has ever had when one comes across James's discussion in this essay of the idea that to "deny certain faiths is logically absurd, for they MAKE their objects true" -- all in the midst of calling us to shun pessimism, to live and work with hope for the good and the true? There is James's pragmatism distilled to a single point, right at the end of that beautiful piece. Tears almost come to my eyes when I read that great essay.Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By David Fowler on December 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
I can't help but think that the two reviewers from Los Angeles have got it wrong. Their claim seems to be that James allows us to believe whatever we desire despite evidence to the contrary. This couldn't be more wrong. One of James' central ideas is that the rational elements of man can only take him so far, that they can't answer all of life's questions, but this is not to say that we ought to do away with rationality. James argues that we have the "right" to make certain decisions (ones that are not answerable by reason alone) on passional grounds (given certain criteria that he goes into in more detail than I can here). In other words, we're using reason as an important guide before taking a non-rational or passional leap. It is important to understand that this is not restricted to matters of religion and in this regard a bit of an example might be helpful: Is it appropriate to wait for incontrovertible proof that someone loves you before you act to extend yourself and love them in return? Of course not, and I think this is the type of thing James is getting at. So, to conclude, I think this is a truly inspiring read and that James would be as critical of adopting beliefs that have little or no rational basis as our previously mentioned reviewers. But hey, maybe I'm wrong too.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
William James is always worth reading. He had a subtle and ingenious mind, and the tolerant, sensible temperament of a true philosopher. This collection includes essays aimed at the general reader, rather than the specialist, covering such topics as "Is Life Worth Living?", "The Dilemma of Determinism," and "The Importance of Individuals," as well as the two title essays. One thing to be aware of is that Amazon has erred in listing the book as only 70 pages long; actually, it's more than 400 pages! The mistake was made because in this edition two of James' books have been bound together, with the original pagination, and the second book is only 70 pages. The first book, "The Will to Believe & Other Essays in Popular Philosophy," is 332 pages. So you get a lot for your money, as is usually the case with Dover editions.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A.E.V. on February 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
This review is mostly intended to address a common, and I think fair, criticism of The Will to Believe, that being his tendency to make it easy to allow people to believe, in areas of religious metaphysics (and this is an important line to draw), whatever they want. My take is based on a couple of readings of both The Will to Believe, and James' Essays in Radical Empiricism, and is therefore not laborious or scholarly. It is simply my impression as a reader.

The first part of this impression is that James was simply not addressing the right audience for the above criticism to hold much weight. He was lecturing to the philosophy club at a university well known for its theology program; or he was lecturing to the Young Men's Christian Association; or he was speaking to a number of Unitarian ministers. In most cases, his lectures were aimed at those who either already believed in God, or who might want to believe in God if he hasn't been killed by Reason. James repeatedly admits that most of his arguments are negative--that is, they don't provide evidence *for* God (or religion in general), they're meant simply to show that such belief is not necessarily negated philosophically, that there's *room* for religious belief.

Also, in order to understand James' approach, one has to remember that he was a psychologist ("Father of American psychology", in fact) and keep in mind his radical empiricist philosophy and its most obvious consequent, pragmatism. To James, there could be no absolute standard for "proving" or "refuting" such metaphysical ideas as religion is based around. Truth, according to the theory of pragmatism, is defined in terms of the idea's consequences, how well employing an idea fulfills what we want to get out of it (to simplify quite a lot).
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews