Self-Deception and the Life of Faith

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This paper is concerned with the question whether faith can be judged, in principle, as an instance of self-deception. Exploring various manifestations of faith, I argue that for some non-cognitive manifestations, the question of motivationally biased believing, in principle, cannot arise. The threat of self-deception, however, may arise, e.g., as a an external critique of the values to which one is committed, or as an internal struggle with despair and doubt concerning the kind of life that one is committed to living. The paper has four parts. In the first part, I discuss the nature of self-deception. In the second part, I discuss various manifestations of faith, taking faith as a family resemblance concept. I explore the relevance of the diversity of manifestations to the question whether faith is an instance of self-deception. In the third and fourth parts, I focus on the manner in which faith shows itself in Kierkegaard's Works of Love and on the ways in which the knight of faith that comes to light in Works of Love can be said to be self-deceived.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-859
Number of pages15
JournalHeythrop Journal - Quarterly Review of Philosophy and Theology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014


  • Arts & Humanities
  • Behavioral psychology
  • Cognition & reasoning
  • Faith
  • Philosophy
  • Religion


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