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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The call to believe and the weak God in William James's philosophy of religion
by Saade, Elie A., Ph.D., Villanova University, 2016, 201; 10237760
Abstract (Summary)

The following dissertation argues that James’s will to believe is a call to believe that has at its origin a divine being. The will is not absolute but shaped by the call; however, the caller can also has at its origin the human being who calls God through prayers. On the other side, there is a divine being calling and hearing the calls; this divine being is a weak God, or as James states a finite God; however, I argue that the weakness of God is practical and not ontological. God in himself is omnipotent, thus, his weakness is from a human’s understanding, God does not lack power in himself but he lacks power over us; out of respect to our freedom.

The first chapter discusses the caller and the called, the call is not always a religious call but it can be a human call, it is the human calling another human to live in an ethical community, moreover, the call can be originated from the self toward itself as in the form of a Heideggerian call. However, the call must be answered because it is a genuine option. The second chapter defines religion according to James as an experience related to feelings and differentiates between the first and second hand religion and between the religion of healthy-mindedness and sick souls. The third chapter studies the practical fruits of religion and the four marks of mystical experience. The fourth chapter examines the human answer to the divine call and defines the call to believe as a call to change the world and not a mere call to believe in a set of dogmas. The call to believe is a call to assume responsibilities as individuals and to live a moral and religious life.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Desmond, William
Commitee: Busch, Thomas, Wetzel, James
School: Villanova University
Department: Philosophy
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 78/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Philosophy
Keywords: James, William, Pragmatism, Radical empiricism, Religious experiences, Weak god, Will to believe
Publication Number: 10237760
ISBN: 978-1-369-44479-7
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