The morality of faith in Martin Buber and William James

Research paper by Samuel Daniel Breslauer

Indexed on: 03 Nov '17Published on: 16 Feb '17Published in: International Journal for Philosophy of Religion


Some philosophers have become atheists because of “intellectual probity.” Martin Buber relates two occasions during which he advocated his view of the term “God” and rejected alternative perspectives. He never justified the basis for either his advocacy or his rejection, yet both play an important role in all his writing, especially his specific type of Zionism. Using what has been called the mere theism of William James’ “The Will to Believe” and the criteria for faith that James advances in that essay illuminates both Buber’s general view of the divine and more particularly his Zionism. Once Buber, no less than James, is understood as a mere theist the basis of what he accepts and what he rejects as true religion becomes clearer. Buber’s theism meets James’ requirement of being a live, forced, momentous option and his Zionism also strives to meet those standards.