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Nov 29, 2020 - 5:00:23 PM
10593 posts since 2/22/2007

Or the verb "believe". I am not asking "what do you believe" (about anything), I am asking for your understanding of the concept of believing. And I ask because I have come to understand that people use the terms meaning very different things.

For me, a belief is something that I *think* is true, but has not yet been or cannot be proven true or false. But the point is, I REALLY think that something is true, and MY BELIEF IS NOT VOLITIONAL. I did not, and could not *choose* to believe something. I either really think it is true or I do not.

Example: Walking by the dining table I notice a fork balanced precariously on the edge of the table. I clumsily nudge the table as I pass, and quickly hear a metallic "ping".
At that point I BELIEVE that the observed fork had fallen to the floor. I don't know that for sure, as I have not yet looked to see, but I believe it to be true. And I can't help but believe that. My mind has added up the evidence and come to a conclusion without any conscious input from me. Now I could be wrong, as something unrelated may have made that sound, or a different, un-noticed implement could have fallen instead. But the belief was generated by me as an automatic way of understanding the world around me. I could not have chosen to believe anything else, as choice is not a component of what I call belief.

Yet I know people who tell me that I can choose to believe this that or whatever, that it is all a matter of committing to believe something. But that is a very different process, and so should involve a very different word.

Nov 29, 2020 - 5:39:25 PM
like this

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

24250 posts since 6/25/2005

A well-thought-out argument. For me a belief is something I think is true, which is open for discussion. My beliefs (and non-beliefs) are not cast in stone.

Nov 29, 2020 - 7:13:50 PM

banjonz

New Zealand

11085 posts since 6/29/2003

There are those who believe almost anything in spite of no evidence for or against. There are those who refuse to believe in spite of overwhelming evidence. Belief is a curious phenomena. I like your argument also Bill.

Nov 29, 2020 - 8:09:14 PM

chuckv97

Canada

54859 posts since 10/5/2013

Belief is a very powerful thing, stemming of course from the mind which in itself can “move mountains”. You’ve maybe read on this august forum where I’ve expounded on the benefits of certain herbs and supplements, in spite of a chorus of boos from naysayers and nervous nellies. I maintain if one blocks out any negativity and doubt then a desired result has a very good chance of coming to fruition. (placebo effect , anyone?)

Nov 30, 2020 - 1:31:16 AM

Paul R

Canada

13671 posts since 1/28/2010

Of curse belief can be a choice. When confronted with certain personal beliefs, I have weighed the evidence presented and decided that I either continue to believe, or not. I'd go into detail but that would break the BHO rules.

Nov 30, 2020 - 1:52:06 AM
likes this

m06

England

9554 posts since 10/5/2006

What Bill said. ^^ Belief in regard to some things is as he says, open to discussion not an evidential fact. And it is healthy to hold our beliefs up to examination. We can believe in specific behaviour. But as beliefs these are not above being challenged and our keeping an openness to the possibility of circumstance where they may not be applicable.

Edited by - m06 on 11/30/2020 02:03:14

Nov 30, 2020 - 2:32:40 AM

3157 posts since 4/29/2012

It's not that simple.. I have beliefs that I believe can be fully justified by evidence and I have beliefs that are more a matter of faith and hope (political not religious in my case). Some of the beliefs I consider to be incontrovertible and evidence based are considered by others to be false and a matter of faith and indoctrination ( animals and plants as we know them evolved from a simpler, probably common, ancestor; the Earth is, to a good approximation, a sphere). Others have beliefs which they believe that they can justify by evidence but I see as false and a matter of faith and indoctrination.

Nov 30, 2020 - 3:30:39 AM

phb

Germany

2362 posts since 11/8/2010

Your definition relies on "true, but has not yet been or cannot be proven true or false". The condition seems to be objective but I think it should be subjective. I would modify your definition like this: "For me, a belief is something that I *think* is true, but has not yet been proven to me (including I haven't cared to verify it but I make assumptions about it based on knowledge, logic, life experience and trust) or cannot be proven true or false."

I'm not entirely happy with the above definition because I usually try to classify information with a probability of being right or wrong rather than putting them into just either one of the two categories. I do this because I am aware that knowledge, logic, life experience and trust can lead to making wrong assumptions (to varying degrees). E.g. if my father (a retired professor of archaeology) tells me in what century Vespasian lived, I will usually just believe it (trust plus the fact will probably align with some of my own knowledge, life experience (I know my father knows stuff like this)) but I know that there is a slim chance he may have remembered wrong and mixed up two Roman emperors (again life experience). If my daughter tells me the same because the Roman empire is the current subject of her history lessons in school, I will probably either verify (to help her learning) or consider that piece of information as having a higher probability of being wrong.

Nov 30, 2020 - 3:37:59 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

12911 posts since 5/24/2005

So, as I scientist, I wonder if myself and other scientists are in error even using either word, belief or believe?
For a scientist-especially one educated, trained, and experienced in a field related to the subject...Which is a better statement?
As a geologist, I will use evolution as a case: (I kept statements very brief)
I believe that the evolution of species exists....
or
I agree with the evidence supporting evolution...

So, I agree Bill, a great post to discuss. I am not sure if my (under quarantine) 5 am logic will hold by the time I get to mid-day and after a pot of coffee. ;-)
Brad

Nov 30, 2020 - 3:39:14 AM

m06

England

9554 posts since 10/5/2006

The OP refers to belief. It would be perverse not to believe in (i.e ignore or dispute) evidential truth e.g. the reality of oxygen, evolution or our planet-shaped earth.

But belief (and crucially the culture within which that belief is formed) is other than evidential truth; it also an ethos that shapes our personal value system e.g. a belief in kindness and a simple life.

We can fall short of living in accord with our personal beliefs. We can't fall short of the evidential truth of oxygen, evolution or our planet-shaped earth. In relation to evidential truth we can only be cognisant, ignorant or perverse.

Edited by - m06 on 11/30/2020 03:49:29

Nov 30, 2020 - 5:31:28 AM

6187 posts since 9/5/2006

how closely linked are the terms belief and faith ?

Nov 30, 2020 - 5:45:07 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

12911 posts since 5/24/2005

quote:
Originally posted by 1935tb-11

how closely linked are the terms belief and faith ?


Hmmm.   I have faith we will bust the pandemic by summer 2021, in these parts.  Brad

Nov 30, 2020 - 5:51:47 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

12911 posts since 5/24/2005

quote:
Originally posted by m06

The OP refers to belief. It would be perverse not to believe in (i.e ignore or dispute) evidential truth e.g. the reality of oxygen, evolution or our planet-shaped earth.

But belief (and crucially the culture within which that belief is formed) is other than evidential truth; it also an ethos that shapes our personal value system e.g. a belief in kindness and a simple life.

We can fall short of living in accord with our personal beliefs. We can't fall short of the evidential truth of oxygen, evolution or our planet-shaped earth. In relation to evidential truth we can only be cognisant, ignorant or perverse.


Yet evidence is a moving target.  Scientists are continually modifying, negating, further confirming "truths" based on review of old evidence, new evidence, etc.  Does that make previous scientists of previous evidence ignorant or perverse? I believe, it does not.  Brad

Nov 30, 2020 - 6:02:07 AM

figmo59

USA

32349 posts since 3/5/2008

Beleafs are the truths of Safety...that most all of us have...

Or...fears fer that matter....

 

 

It is what grounds us in order to...cope...

 

Sadly...some fail...

 

I spoze... it is the boiled down version of...

Free Will....

Edited by - figmo59 on 11/30/2020 06:04:43

Nov 30, 2020 - 6:06:06 AM

figmo59

USA

32349 posts since 3/5/2008

Btw... Great thread topic Billy...! :0)

Nov 30, 2020 - 6:31:21 AM

banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

10593 posts since 2/22/2007

Terry asks---"how closely linked are the terms belief and faith ?--"

Great question. For me, "faith" is *actions*, not words or thoughts, taken--- AS IF ---something were true. In other words, faith is not a belief in itself but rather a decision to make choices and take actions as if a belief were true, in the absence of evidence.

Nov 30, 2020 - 6:34:56 AM

6187 posts since 9/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by banjo bill-e

Terry asks---"how closely linked are the terms belief and faith ?--"

Great question. For me, "faith" is *actions*, not words or thoughts, taken--- AS IF ---something were true. In other words, faith is not a belief in itself but rather a decision to make choices and take actions as if a belief were true, in the absence of evidence.


but wouldn't you have faith in you actions if you did not believe? 

Nov 30, 2020 - 6:46:12 AM

banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

10593 posts since 2/22/2007

Paul says "of course belief can be a choice" which is why I started a thread containing the phrase "choice is not a component of what I call belief", and I am ready to concede that it is me who needs to find a new word for what I am describing, which is the difference between the non-volitional choosing by the mind of what it really thinks to be true and an individual deciding to think something true.

So to be clear, I am saying that what I am calling belief cannot be volitional. It cannot have any element of choosing or deciding "this is what I will believe". I am saying that we seem to use the same word for two different mental processes.

Nov 30, 2020 - 6:52:18 AM

chuckv97

Canada

54859 posts since 10/5/2013

So you’re saying as an infant I believed that food/milk will quell my hunger? - it not being an act of volition? Where then is the line between beliefs and instincts ?

Edited by - chuckv97 on 11/30/2020 06:53:03

Nov 30, 2020 - 6:54:04 AM

banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

10593 posts since 2/22/2007

Terry you have me twisted up in double negatives. Would I not have faith in my actions if I did not believe? Help me out here!

I am saying that "believing" (not as I use the term) that gravity is a hoax is something that one has decided to believe, but it is not "faith" until one steps off of the cliff.

Nov 30, 2020 - 6:56:02 AM

banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

10593 posts since 2/22/2007

Instincts are not a conscious thought process and do not apply here.

Nov 30, 2020 - 7:26:54 AM

207 posts since 8/11/2015

Myself I have trouble understanding how someone can «choose to believe» something. Sounds to me like a kind of self hypnosis or unwillingness to accept the actual conclusions they derive at.

I also don’t understand people who when faced with contradicting evidence, will say that they «know they are right». Why do they know it when everything seems to point in the oposite direction? Well, apparently they just stubbornly do. Also an unwillingness to accept other ideas and certainly an inability to learn and improve themselves.

As a person with fairly low self-esteem, I can become annoyed if someone says they have faith in me and my abilities. Are they blind? I am clearly incompetent and not to be trusted! Then again I sometimes look at or listen to something I have made and for some reason it suddenly seems brilliant and not useless after all. Then later it is useless again.

So what is an objective truth when it comes to perception?

Nov 30, 2020 - 7:32:15 AM

6187 posts since 9/5/2006

scientist argue facts (findings) everyday because they believe other wise. and if these facts or findings are debated due to their findings ,, then they have belief in their findings or facts. i think,,,now i am confused

Nov 30, 2020 - 8:02:57 AM

m06

England

9554 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by rinemb
quote:
Originally posted by m06

The OP refers to belief. It would be perverse not to believe in (i.e ignore or dispute) evidential truth e.g. the reality of oxygen, evolution or our planet-shaped earth.

But belief (and crucially the culture within which that belief is formed) is other than evidential truth; it also an ethos that shapes our personal value system e.g. a belief in kindness and a simple life.

We can fall short of living in accord with our personal beliefs. We can't fall short of the evidential truth of oxygen, evolution or our planet-shaped earth. In relation to evidential truth we can only be cognisant, ignorant or perverse.


Yet evidence is a moving target.  Scientists are continually modifying, negating, further confirming "truths" based on review of old evidence, new evidence, etc.  Does that make previous scientists of previous evidence ignorant or perverse? I believe, it does not.  Brad


Of course. Even science as a discipline is evolving;  vastly different now to what it was in 1720, 1820 and 1920. Every era including our own has been or is confronted with the unknown - an incomplete picture.

There is a huge difference between honest and intelligent appraisal of available but incomplete evidence (cognisance), supposition based on no evidence (ignorance) and belief that is contradicted by the available evidence (perversity).

Cognisance is not complacence or an end point; the discipline of science necessitates integrating new evidence as it is revealed.

Nov 30, 2020 - 8:04:28 AM

3195 posts since 7/28/2015

I believe that John Searle outlines the distinction as follows:

A belief is a proposition that one takes to be true.
A perception is a proposition (A) that one takes to be true together with the proposition that one's belief in A is caused by the fact that A is true.

That is, the difference between a belief and a perception is that a perception includes the self-referential property that the belief is caused by the truth of the proposition.

As for the volitional aspect of your concern,  I don't think it is a real distinction.   Suppose that you take some drugs and as a consequence hallucinate forks and the sound they make when they fall on the floor.  You are just seeing forks all over the place and hearing them constantly.   You believe that what you see is a hallucination caused by drugs.   In this case, you have taken the exact same experience as you described above and come to a different belief.   Based on what you know about the drug etc. you could choose to either believe that the fork is a hallucination or not.   Suppose instead of being on drugs we change your example such that instead of just seeing a fork on the table and hearing a ping, you see a pig with wings fly through the window and set a golden fork on the table and then three blind mice come and knock it off the table.   Would you believe that there was a fork that fell off the table?   Would the decision to believe that or not, not be a choice?   Simply because the evidence that you have in your example is strong does not mean that your belief in it is not volitional.

Edited by - prooftheory on 11/30/2020 08:17:03

Nov 30, 2020 - 8:09:58 AM

Owen

Canada

7491 posts since 6/5/2011

quote:
Originally posted by 1935tb-11

scientist argue facts (findings) everyday because they believe other wise. and if these facts or findings are debated due to their findings ,, then they have belief in their findings or facts. i think,,,now i am confused


I extend kudos.... the OP did me in.   wink

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