An analysis of the compatibility of faith and reason by w k clifford and william james

At the outset of the essay, Clifford defends the stringent principle that we are all always obliged to have sufficient evidence for every one of our beliefs. Clifford's essay is chiefly remembered for two things: The story is that of a shipowner who, once upon a time, was inclined to sell tickets for a transatlantic voyage.

An analysis of the compatibility of faith and reason by w k clifford and william james

Based upon pragmatist positions, in this paper I would like to describe the originality and peculiarity of the ethical as an enabling of beginnings.


In doing so, a perspective is established whereby ethical demands can neither be attributed to propositional and proposition-based knowledge nor represented by a norm, as all knowledge and all norms confirm existing orders, define someone or something as being such-and-such, and therefore have a tendency to inhibit new beginnings.

On the one hand, practice is nothing other than what we make it, but on the other hand, we cannot ever desist from or abandon practice, which makes it impossible to turn it entirely into an object of theoretical contemplation.

He describes practice as open and contingent. It is characterized by the fact that in practice things could always be different or be started over afresh.

However, he limits practice to the polis as a stage for the encounter of free and equal citizens and thus distinguishes it from other types of actions such as labour or fabrication poiesis on the one hand, and the biological process of life in general on the other.

Practice here inherits a necessity or causality that it in turn impresses itself upon thinking. In order to suppress the creative and experimental spontaneity of practice Marx himself exposed, orthodox Marxism accentuates a certain heaviness and irreducibility of practice that Aristotle limits to other types of activities as well as to the biological process of life.

For Aristotle, this spontaneity makes practice to the privileged place for the emergence of new beginnings. On the other hand it could be said that, according to orthodox Marxism, the subject is always overpowered by a practice which makes it impossible to start something new.

Various kinds of pragmatist ethics criticize the assumption of objective structures that supposedly determine practice and try to eliminate its spontaneity. The advantage of this normative measure is that it is conceptualized as entirely intra-mundane or naturalistic, but at the same time it does not encourage ethical relativism.

According to deontological approaches, practical reason is a representation of formal, as well as transcendental, principles that serve as external measures for criticizing practical actions. Deontological principle ethics thus tend to dictate particular forms of practice and conform to their respective normative standards.

It leaves no room for ruptures or responsible decisions, therefore does not know any true beginnings. Ethical Demands and Limits of Knowledge: From Plato to Kant 9At first glance, it may seem trivial to point out that the possibility of acting morally is sub-ject to complex epistemic conditions.

In order to act morally, we require knowledge regarding, for example, the coordinates of the situation we are about to participate in, the potential consequences of our action, the conflicting claims of other actors, the normative measures that may provide orientation to our actions, as well as the procedures that can ideally justify these measures.

There is no denying that knowledge is relevant for moral action. Nevertheless, from a pragmatic perspective the question remains as to whether knowledge is a sufficient and appropriate condition for virtue, if, in other words, the originality of the ethical is explicable as a form of propositional knowledge.

An analysis of the compatibility of faith and reason by w k clifford and william james

This ethical intellectualism has a prominent historical predecessor, Socrates, whose position Bruno Snell recapitulates as follows: The Medea of Euripides says: Nobody is voluntarily doing evil. Socrates is well aware that theoretical knowledge alone cannot provide a sufficient and appropriate motivation for our ethical actions: Ignorance is explicitly considered to be the greatest sin.

It is not part of the sphere of logon didonei and thus calls for another capacity — nous — which does not aim at propositional knowledge, but a pre-reflective one that cannot be justified, but is at best presupposed and plays an irritating, rather than a guiding, role in all our relations with the world.

In this dialogue, Socrates doubts the ability to teach virtue with the argument that virtue is of a completely different kind than propositional knowledge and represents a realm that has a validity of its own.

Plato is the origin of two different traditions: This does not answer the question as to whether the ethical could be based on a different, non-propositional kind of knowledge, for example, a genuinely practical knowledge as outlined in the Aristotelian notion of phronesis.

But at this point I will not pursue that question any further, as any definition of practical knowledge already has to include a certain knowledge of the practical, the possibility of which is precisely what is up for debate here.

Essays on the Active Powers of the Human Mind Thomas Reid

For Derrida, it is the paradox of Kantian ethics that the sentiment of respect […] inscribes in the heart of a morality incapable of giving an account of being inscribed in an affect or in a sensibility of what should not be inscribed there or should only enjoin the sacrifice of everything that would only obey this sensible inclination.

The ethical can never be identical to any normative order, because all norms are made by man, remain contingent, and are not able to cover all aspects of the ethical. So the ethical is a empty signifier: Contrary to the normative order, the ethical is […] related to the experience of the unconditional in an entirely conditioned universe.

And this experience of the unconditional is the kernel of any notion of ethics. He remains intellectualist in his assumption that we are able to know the foundation of ethical actions — the law of morality — without any mediation:In his classic lecture “The Will to Believe,” James responded to the English mathematician and philosopher W.

K. Clifford, who had asserted that “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for every one, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” 7 James was, he said, offering an “essay in justification of faith, a defence of our. Historical Library Disclaimer. You must acknowledge that you have read the following disclaimer in order to view documents in the Historical Library.

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“The Ethics of Belief” was published in by Cambridge mathematician and philosopher William Kingdon Clifford, in a journal called Contemporary Review.

Problem with Pascal's Wager: Clifford vs James. W.K. Clifford argues against such a wager and the Ethics of Belief. He claims that we should never hold a belief without sufficient justification. Jacquelynn Baas. Download with Google Download with Facebook or download with email. Before Zen: The Nothing of American Dada. Tags Blaise Pascal, Evidentialism vs Non-Evidentialism, Faith & Philosophy, Pascal's Wager, The Ethics of Belief, The Will to Believe, W. K. Clifford, William James Comments Leave a .

At the outset of the essay, Clifford defends the stringent principle that we are all always obliged to have sufficient evidence for .

When comparing the two selections by W. K. Clifford and William James on the compatibility of faith and reason, I feel that both arguments make very valid points.

Mackie and Rowe on the Problem of Evil ( words) $ or free if you register a new account! Purchase this Solution. how is evil compatible with the existence of an all-powerful, all-good, all-knowing God? Solution.

William James, Charles Darwin, and W.K. Clifford ( words) $ Descartes. Darwin. William. James. Philosophy.

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