Introduction to PhilosophyNotesThis is not a substitute for coming to class Richard Lee
Philosophy 2003 C 001Copyright © 1999, Richard Lee Spring 1999

William James's Thesis

"Our non-intellectual nature does influence our convictions. ... Our next duty . . . is to ask whether it be simply reprehensible and pathological, or whether . . . we must treat it as a normal element in making up our minds." (P 100b)

"The thesis I defend is, briefly stated, this: Our passional nature not only lawfully may, but must, decide an option between propositions, whenever it is a genuine option that cannot by its nature be decided on intellectual grounds; for to say, under such circumstances, 'Do not decide, but leave the question open,' is itself a passional decision, -- just like deciding yes or no, -- and is attended with the same risk of losing the truth." (P 100f)

If (a) there is a genuine option between propositions which (b) cannot by its nature be decided on intellectual grounds, then we may (and indeed must) decide through our passional ["willing," "non-intellectual] nature.

Richard Lee,, last modified: 15 February 1999