- This paper is quoted in the first Chapter of "Blackburn (Simon) - Truth: A Guide for the Perplexed". It seems that "James (William) - The Will to Believe" is – in large part – a response.
- Clifford’s paper begins with the famous passage about a ship-owner, who – if he believes his ship is sound without making proper investigation – is guilty of any deaths that occur on its sinking. Nor is he exonerated if the ship does not sink.
- The issue of “moral luck1” may be somewhat – but not greatly – linked with the latter contention.
- It looks to me as though the anthologized version is only the first Section, as it begins “I. THE DUTY OF INQUIRY”, but there is no Section II2, etc.
- To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for any one, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.
- If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call in question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it; the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.
- If this judgment seems harsh when applied to those simple souls who have never known better, who have been brought up from the cradle with a horror of doubt, and taught that their eternal welfare depends on what they believe; then it leads to the very serious question. Who hath made Israel to sin?
- It may be permitted me to fortify this judgment with the sentence of Milton
"A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only because his pastor says so, or the assembly so determine, without knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy."
- And with the famous aphorism of Coleridge?.—
"He who begins by loving Christianity better than Truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or Church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all."
- Inquiry into the evidence of a doctrine is not to be made once for all, and then taken as finally settled. It is never lawful to stifle a doubt; for either it can be honestly answered by means of the inquiry already made, or else it proves that the inquiry was not complete.
- "But," says one, "I am a busy man; I have no time for the long course of study which would be necessary to make me in any degree a competent judge of certain questions, or even able to understand the nature of the arguments." Then he should have no time to believe.
Footnote 1: Footnote 2:
- It seems that there are two further Sections:-
→ II – The Weight of Authority, and
→ III – The Limits of inference
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