William Gavin’s William James in Focus: Willing to Believe is a brief and creative introduction to James’s philosophy aimed at students and non-specialists. As the subtitle of the book suggests, Gavin uses James’s will to believe doctrine as the organizing theme for his interpretation of James’s philosophy. One might initially think that this implies reading the latter in the light of James’s views on religion, but Gavin downplays the religious aspects of James’s will to believe doctrine and focuses instead on its relevance for understanding what he terms the “latent image” of James’s personal life, which according to Gavin is primarily concerned with human mortality and the need to affirm philosophical positions..
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