James talks about a “genuine option” as being “forced, living and momentous”

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James talks about a “genuine option” as being “forced, living and momentous”

The will to believe by William James is one of the books that provide insight into the ethical concern to the society. He argues that when some hypothesis of ultimate concern comes up if we don’t choose, we may lose the possibility of for any meaningful encounter since our faith has the power to shape our future. In the book, he applies the genuine option theory such as a living option, a forced option, and momentous option. In the book, James takes hypothesis as anything that may be proposed to our beliefs. According to James the theory of genuine option is very significant for the existence of the free will situation in life. Therefore, if someone knows that he or she has a free will, they will act accordingly. Thus, the paper will consider genuine option theory based on religious beliefs.

The genuine option theory provides the three criteria that are important in an individual’s life mainly based on religion. A living option is one whose hypothesis is alive. According to James an individual who is either agnostic or Christian is considered to be a live option but not a theosophist or Mohamedan. Therefore, a religious person should stand in the way of believing there is God or stand in the option of there is no God. They are the real possibility for the religious individual to find in life.  A forced option is a dilemma like an option that an individual can either choose to believe there is God or not. For example ‘’ you can either love me or hate me’’ in this option there is no possibility for choice but to make a stand in their decision. Finally, there is a momentous option that is unique and may be someone’s one opportunity. Therefore, a religious person should choose to live a holy life before the coming of the lord according to the Christians or lose his or her soul in hell. Thus, an individual has only one choice to make. Consequently, the three options are essential for an individual to understand in making some judgments in life. These assist in understanding that there are options that are living, forced or momentous.

According to James, there is believing tendency where perhaps there is willingness to act. Therefore, I think having religious beliefs in this direction makes it more probable. All the option describes in the case are continually happening in day to day life in various religious practices. Perhaps, the entire process takes place in reality. Some of the people try to force several individuals to Christianity using reasoning and declining the power of will which they think does not have its effects at that particular time. Moreover, some are forced to Islam through various ways without their will. Multiple ultimatums are placed in different religious belief in that if you are a Christian, and you don’t believe in Christ, then you are heading to hell. On the other hand, if you don’t believe in Allah and follow the doctrine then the individual is heading to hell. These situations have forced people to makes some decision out of their will and then fails in their commitments in the long run. The talk of believing by our will seams, then, from other people’s point of view it is merely silly. There are some individuals whose lives lye distorted through some foundational staffs without the power of choice. However, there a reality of making decisions in the religious beliefs as led by the other people especially in the regions.

The belief provides us with a guide to some belief’s truth in the current society where there is freedom of expression. Many people have come with various beliefs without any sensual background or logic and have forced it among other people to believe their dreams. James borrows some facts from various authors like Clifford who states that belief is desecrated when is given to without approval or questioning to the believer. Therefore, when that belief comes with insufficient logics, then it results in a stolen pleasure which is very immoral to our duty to humanity. Thus, it is very wrong for someone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. Therefore, these criteria assist the society to understand that there are various beliefs created out of selfish ambitions and without backing on exemplary and significance evidence. Thus, we have to believe only that which has logic and enough evidence.


The author James has brought out the genuine option theory to explain the power of will existing in the present society. Some so many people have been faced with the three options in their lives without any possible solution to attend to or make. The three criteria provide the dilemma of life that perhaps portrays slavery in some belief that doesn’t even have enough evidence to curter for their existence. Therefore, our faith is faith in another person’s faith, and our belief in truth is that there is truth and that our minds are made for each other.

Work cited

William, James. The will to believe and other essays in popular philosophy. B&R Samizdat Express, 2012. file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/The%20Will%20to%20Believe,%20by%20William%20James.pdf