The Will to Doubt

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The Will to Doubt: An Essay in Philosophy for the General Thinker is a book published in 1907 by University of Michigan professor Alfred Henry Lloyd. Professor Lloyd would later become interim President of the University of Michigan in 1925.

Thesis[edit]

The Will to Doubt was Lloyd's fourth book and was published as a volume in the Ethical Library Series. The book was a response to William James' 1896 collection of essays titled The Will to Believe. Professor Lloyd's simple thesis is that "doubt is essential to real belief".[1] He wrote at the beginning of the 20th century, in what he called an age of doubt:

"We would often hide it from others, not to say from ourselves, but it is there, and we all know it to be there.[2] Though many fear doubt, and try to keep it hidden and locked away, the confession of doubt is in fact the beginning of philosophy".[3]

Themes[edit]

Fear is a chief motivator of dogmatism, and dogmatic people are slaves to their fears. This is not genuine confidence.[4] But doubt is not the road to atheism; in fact, doubt is part of a very difficult road to theism.[5]

Bertrand Russell built upon these arguments in subsequent years, even directly referencing Lloyd in Free Thought and Official Propaganda.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Will to Doubt. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1907, p. ix
  2. ^ Will to Doubt, p. 1
  3. ^ Will to Doubt, p. 2
  4. ^ Will to Doubt, p. 9
  5. ^ Will to Doubt, p. 27