My topic in this paper is the nature of faith. Much of the discussion
concerning the nature of faith proceeds by focussing on the relationship
between faith and belief. In this paper, I explore a different approach. I
suggest that we approach the question of what faith involves by focussing on
the relationship between faith and action. When we have faith, we
generally manifest it in how we act; we perform acts of faith: we share our
secrets, rely on other’s judgment, refrain from going through our partner’s
emails, let our children prepare for an important exam without our
interference. Religious faith, too is manifested in acts of faith: attending
worship, singing the liturgy, fasting, embarking on a pilgrimage.
I argue that approaching faith by way of acts of faith, reveals that
faith is a complex mental state whose elements go beyond doxastic states
towards particular propositions. It also involves conative states and – perhaps
more surprisingly – know how. This has consequences for the epistemology
of faith: the role of testimony and experts, the importance of practices, and
what we should make of Pascal’s advice for how to acquire faith.