RE: Numbers, Machine and Father Ted

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2006 19:18:14 +1100

Tom Caylor writes:
> Brent Meeker wrote:
> > OK. But I'd say that in fact almost no one believes something without any evidence, i.e. on *blind* faith. Religious faith is usually belief based on *selected* evidence; it is "faith" because it is contrary to the total evidence. Bruno seems to use "faith" somewhat differently: to mean what I would call a working hypothesis.
> >
> > Brent Meeker
> This gets us to the question that has been pondered here before, a
> question that is more appropriate to the general
> metaphysical/epistemological thoughts of this List: What does it mean
> to believe something? I'd say that you can't really know if you or
> someone else really believes something unless you/they act on it. An
> act could simply be investing some of our precious limited time to look
> at its consequences. I'd say that for that non-trivial period of time
> in your life, you had at least somewhat of a belief in it. It is not a
> trivial thing to use up some of your life doing something (at least in
> my worldview). I think this shows how Bruno's "belief" can be brought
> equal in essence (if not necessarily the quantity of investment) to any
> other belief. Evidence is relative, and I think is important in
> practical terms, but it is not essential to the definition of belief.
Belief could probably be entirely described in social, behavioural and psychological terms.
But problems arise when you consider *only* this aspect of belief, ignoring the question
of whether there is a basis for saying some beliefs are true and others false. This does not
just apply to religious beliefs but is at the basis of the theories espoused by the sort of
secular academics shown up in recent years by the Sokal hoax.
Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Sat Nov 11 2006 - 03:18:31 PST

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