Is knowledge also a belief?

too long to read the whole thread:

Knowledge is perception since it is infinite. One never should trust completely a perception. Reality is ever changing since thought is projection. But right, what I am saying is a belief in itself. LOL

Allow the illusion to serve you, not being a victim of it.

I don’t think that’s the case. Saying “I believe it is 10th street” to someone usually means " I don’t know it’s 10th street, I think its 10th street though", does it not? Otherwise, someone who knows it’s 10th street would say “It’s 10th street”. Very confidently. The good thing about this example is, there is usually no cognitive biases wrapped up around this issue of finding something, usually. So its pretty simple. I don’t think people throw the word “might” around too loosely. Seems you’re just being contrarian to engage in sophistry

The word belief does mean a lot of different things of course, and usually when people do say " I believe… (insert possible truth)" they are expressing uncertainty - unless it is their doctrine/religion, opinion, or values in which certainty is more prevalent.

“If you want to argue that you KNOW certain things and that this is different from belief, this leads to all sorts of philosophical problems. For one, it means your belief in that case cannot be revised”

I disagree, as I mentioned knowledge does not necessarily mean truth, it is dynamic. The difference between belief and knowledge is justification. What that justification entails is reason, awareness, logic, understanding. Vague yes, but belief doesn’t include those justifications. Belief is either uncertainty (not the type of belief we are discussing in this thread - or certainty - this is the type of belief we are discussing in this thread). With knowledge, there is justification for certainty, with belief, there is not. With knowledge being dynamic and not necessarily truth we have a reasonable categorization of how we understand how we think, what our limits are and also an allusion to truth being mildly elusive perhaps, at least among qualia.

Please note religion is really irrelevant to this conversation. We are talking about certainty of truth with knowledge and belief and the difference. Religions are irrelevant, science is irrelevant. Justification is and what proper justification is needed is a far more complex matter - keep in mind this is a basic framework.

I don’t know what you mean I am “triggered by the word”. It makes me feel like I am conceding something? I have nothing to concede if I don’t think things are truth without proper justification that entails it to be knowledge. So what of it? I don’t know why you are getting emotional here though - I never claimed anything is being taken from me. I do think this belief/knowledge dilution may contribute to people not thinking logically or reasonably. It makes it ok to belief things are real or true without proper justification somewhat, it may lead to people not parsing their own thoughts properly.

That has nothing to with what I was talking about.

It is true that:

It was an example, the reversed example of yours, and I could have given many other examples too. The sentence “people throw the word ‘might’ around too loosely” is as correct or incorrect as the sentence “people throw the word ‘belief’ around too loosely”. That was what I was saying.

Seems you are just being contrarian to engage in sophistry.

Seems you do not know what you are talking about.

“Ich glaube” in German means “I believe” in English, and “Ich denke” in German means “I think” in English. Since the late 1960s, certain German people have been fighting a “word battle”; the reason for it is the goal that “Ich denke” shall be used instead of “Ich glaube” which shall die out; the people shall believe that they think and shall not notice that they believe and not think; in this way new believers shall be bred, namely those who do not think / know that they believe but nevertheless believe that they think / know.


Do you have any references for this? I think people don’t notice now whether they believe or know, that’s the problem with the world and a little better clarity on belief and knowledge could help. A lot of that has to do with the what consists of understanding. As stated earlier, that’s a bigger task at hand, but something epistemology has been doing with things here and there, in a manner that isn’t really relayed to anyone. I already provided reasons why, I want a new theory of epistemology because I think people don’t think cogently. I don’t think they parse their thoughts very well, in particularly when dealing with things such as knowledge, truth and belief. These words are tossed around often and often they don’t really mean what the person saying them actually means. Many times, people don’t actually introspect well enough to actually understand if they hold a belief, or if they have justification for knowledge, or if they even know if something is true. It has been conflated and led to erroneous thoughts. Not only that, the field of epistemology has led to disseminating truth from belief more oft than showing the relation, in attitude as I mentioned, in our every day language. What else is there? So why should we hang on to JTB? I think we lose the true essence of knowledge and the true essence of belief by doing so and I think this schism could be a better way, if only we could get around the harshness this sounds to anyone who classifies knowledge as a subset of belief. If only we can get around the 2,000 years of epistemology building upon JTB, only to note the differences more so than anything, yet still hang on to JTB.

So, I hope we can gain more understanding of the essence of knowledge, belief, truth and opinion with this schism. Not only for ourselves as individuals, but maybe even for the field of epistemology.

Yes: my experience and studies.

Seems to be the opposite of what I am proposing. The goal is for the field of epistemology to get on board with how people think, and what the field already understands. Belief and knowledge have a discernable difference in attitude (certainty) and usage - justification, and mindset. In essence, everything about knowledge and belief becomes differentiated at an epistemological level - yet the categorization remains for no good reason it seems. The people are confused - people don’t understand the difference between their beliefs and their knowledge - yet epistemology does - yet puts it in a nice box called belief. Yet its truth also. Yet its not.

It is not difficult to find out which of the English speakers use the term “I think” or the term “I believe” how often, in which situations and with or without switching. Until the end of the 1960’s German speakers used the term “ich glaube” very much oftener than the term “ich denke” - maybe this ratio was 90 to 10. Since about 1990 certain German speakers have been using the term “ich denke” very much oftener than the term “ich glaube” - maybe this ratio is 99 to 1 (and for all German speakers maybe 80 to 20 or 70 to 30). So the ratio of the use of the terms “ich glaube” and “ich denke” has reversed within merely two decades (1970’s and 1980’s).

What’s easiest is rarely what’s right :slight_smile: You can think that, but that’s not how the words are used. You can state that that is how you use those words, but you don’t really offer any reasons for others to agree.

Anyone can believe anything they want, without justification - this is true, but doesn’t logically entail that all beliefs are unjustified. Why should we accept that a belief stops being a belief when it’s justified, and not just become a firmer belief? Is “understanding” or “comprehending” an objective state, or is it a subjective feeling? Many people understood the universe as being heliocentric, and were equipped to judge others on their understanding of that… knowledge? Belief? Was it knowledge until disproved?

And is there nothing that you’d say you know that you haven’t rationally and logically analysed and empirically verified? I don’t believe that. Or maybe I know otherwise. :wink:

Another false dichotomy. “In his opinion, we should deport all foreigners” has no informational content different to “He believes we should deport all foreigners.”

Realise? That’s a bold claim. As far as I’m aware, the mind handles them identically - wasn’t this the point of Sam Harris’ excursions into neuroscience?

If you want to approach philosophically as rigorously as you claim, it seems odd that you conflate such different concepts as “criticism of” with “making fun of”.

Now you’re claiming that the distinction you’ve just imposed on people is causing them cognitive dissonance? Do you not think it’s more likely that people get emotionally invested in their worldview and fight to defend it against people who see things otherwise? This bit reads like the wrong end of the fedora Reddit new atheistsphere, and I’m pretty sure (or at least believe) that you don’t belong there.

Unproven at best.


You’re playing fast and loose with words, now, shifting definitions. In the sense of “something believed” vs. “something known” they’re neither; they aren’t statements, they’re worldviews. Containing some accurate belief(-statement)s and some very weird ones.

So where does “making fun of them” come into this? And now you neither believe nor know anything?

You answered your own question:


I’m not sure what you mean, that’s not how the words are used by who? I provided definitions of belief and knowledge - those definitions do not require that knowledge be a subset of belief. So who doesn’t use the definition I provided? Certainly some do, because I didn’t make up the definition myself.

I agree it doesn’t logically entail that all beliefs are unjustified - that is my claim, that all beliefs are unjustified. Every instance of any belief that isn’t considered “knowledge”, is unjustified, as in it shouldn’t be thought to be true. That being, belief is something that is thought to be true. Now there are many different senses of the word belief that can create muddiness and confusion, but let’s refer to the sense I provided in my OP as that is what I am discussing. We can say “I believe torture is wrong” - as is the sense of it being an “opinion” - but I would state for the sake of clarity, “opinion”, in this discourse is a better suited term to avoid confusion.

Well - give me an example? Does all knowledge require empirical verification? I wouldn’t think so. It can be straight logical necessity.

I would say it is not a false dichotomy in the sense of belief we are discussing in this OP. I understand what you are saying, but again I think you and others here are conflating multiple senses of the word belief that includes other senses of the word belief I didn’t bring about as what I am referring to as belief in this thread. Please note again, that it is not my definition, I didn’t make it up, it is one that is used by others.

It’s a claim backed by epistemologists - I think Bertrand Russell may be one of them, not sure at this point but I addressed this in the OP, please see “attitude” in this thread (a quick word search from a browser on each page should bring it up nicely). Would be interested in Sam Harris’ take on this matter if you have a link.

I don’t see how what I said “made fun of” beliefs as opposed to criticized, but that doesn’t really matter so much does it? Unless one has beliefs that any remarks of mine may have been cutting to a belief system maybe? In such I understand the harshness by some, against my thread here.

Anyone emotionally invested in a world view that gets upset about defending it is highly suspect. There’s a general rule of thumb, the first to rise to anger in debate has already shown they have lost. A knowledgeable mind, is calm and thoughtful. I regret jumping to the religious upshoot as I did, straight from the core of my thesis- I would prefer we put that behind us because it is only getting in the way of the greater thesis

Keep in mind I provided the sense of belief I was referring to already… see previous comments as well on this matter.

I neither believe, only know, and am filled with doubt and questions everywhere else. I have opinion’s that aren’t a matter of belief in the sense of belief I am referring to and I have knowledge that isn’t a matter of belief in the sense I am referring to. I don’t think it is ample to conflate all senses of belief into one giant sense and build an epistemic frame from it - definitions and use don’t usually work that way, in our meanings. The multiple definitions we are all aware of are merely homonymous to the word belief; It seems people in general don’t really understand that very well.

So what we have is this:

“Belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case, with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty. In other words, belief is when someone thinks something is reality, true, when they have no absolute verified foundation for their certainty of the truth or realness of something”

I would say empirical evidence is not the sole justification for something to be knowledge of course, but a “verified foundation for certainty” is more apt to describe a state of knowledge in the mind.

I contest that belief is not the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case with there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty. If that is the case, a state of mind that this would be is “knowing” and the difference in the state of mind between knowing and belief is separate, the attitude is different - marked by a calm confidence - which isn’t an aspect of the state of mind in belief of something to be true without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty.

I would say belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty, or without a verified foundation for their certainty of the truth or realness of something.

“Knowledge and belief are not only distinct attitudes but they also have a distinct and proprietary objectives.” - … knowledge/

Any so-called knowledge which has not been tried and proven and cannot be tried and proven IS an assumption or we might call it a theory but it is an assumption if we have already judged it to be true without proper evidence - whether or not it is true.
Our so-called subjective truths we see as knowledge but they can also be based on assumption - not facts. They are beliefs.

The Sun and everything else revolving around the Earth in the time of Copernicus was seen as knowledge but it too was an assumption.

The way I look at it, knowledge can only be a belief if it has not been proven. If we know something absolutely, based on absolute evidence, there can be no belief. Belief begins before examination/exploration - it is simply based on faith - faith on whatever hasn’t been seen as of yet.

True knowledge, real knowledge…


I contest that belief is not a step towards knowledge.

Really? Why do you say that? What about the scientists? You don’t think that first they come to a conclusion in their thinking that
something might be plausible or possible
because of something which they have come to see, either by accident or deliberately? That’s a form of belief. Without that beginning, how does knowledge come about? Belief is the cornerstone or part of the framework which is the structure upon which knowledge begins to take form or shape.

Belief is NOT knowledge but it is definitely a step toward knowledge though not all beliefs can give rise to knowledge, at least not “real” physical knowledge.

Well, tried and proven is only good until it is tried and proven wrong. In so much as it lasts, it lasts. See the “knowledge” of Newtonian physics as well. But not all knowledge can be tried… but can be proven. But then again, what is proof is merely a matter of convincing, ultimately? Many people think beliefs are proven. The religion of Christianity is true, because it’s been proved by the Bible. But So we do have a problem of proper justification for knowledge.

But I agree with your sentiment overall -I wouldn’t want to think we must consider knowledge true due to the impossibility of having an all knowing objective view of whatever knowledge we are referring to. There are proper justifications that can be laid out for each individual piece of knowledge. How do we know 1+1 = 2, how do we know the earth revolves around the sun, what justification is required for each. It’s hard if not impossible to find a rule here for all knowledge, to consider that the rule that makes it knowledge.

I think the right way to do it is to come to a hypothesis before they come to conclusion. If a scientist comes to a conclusion before they have verified their conclusion, then it leaves open confirmation bias, interpreting data to correlate to your preconceived conclusion. Anyone who does that, isn’t thinking properly. A hypothesis ought not be believed, it ought to be verified.


This is certainly true. I suppose that this is why some things are called theories - and not actual proven facts though they may point to being more “real” than less real.
I suppose that there also have to be kind of leaps of faith in science despite the fact of being that it has been shown that some things proven have at some point become unproven.

You mean proven up to a point? For example?

That’s not proof. Being convinced of something without facts is not proof. It may just be wishful thinking or illusion.

Well, I suppose that we can say that many “beliefs” ultimately become proven - until they’re

The religion of Christianity can only be subjective truth or religious belief. How can it even be proven? Some of it is historical truth, I suppose.
Anyway, what is it you are saying is true about Christianity aside from the fact that it is a religion.
The truth of it can only really be based on the good that comes of it, the behavior on the part of Christians. But still, that doesn’t make it real. It just makes it perhaps a better religion than one which chooses to do harm.

Not if we take the scientific method and even then we can fail.

Put up one finger, then put up another finger. How many does that make? 2 - of course. But we can only trust in that if we are to trust that those who created the concept of 1+1 = 2 were correct. lol
As for the other, we look for all of the evidence which has been gathered, think about it and judge it to be right or wrong.
Some things we really do have to go on faith for, trusting that the scientists know what they are doing. We ask questions about them and examine them.

Sometimes we have to just be agnostic and skeptical about things, delaying making a judgment on things and delaying the
gratification of “knowing”. We have to learn to live in negative capability. It can also be great fun in not knowing where we truly cannot know and in wondering and questioning.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. …"
said Shakespeare.
We have a far, far way to go…

Yes, but there does have to be a form of belief in something to begin with, scientifically speaking. But that’s not the hypothesis. The hypothesis is the information ladder or all of the little points, kind of like pointillism lol which begin to make the verifying of a theory more substantial and “real” - like evolution.

Could you clarify which definition you’re referring to? OP provided five definitions, from only one source (Webster).

And I’ve yet to understand your evidence for that claim. Is it principally that people tend to use the word belief to indicate uncertainty, or a statement that they emotionally support with insufficient evidence?

How about the following:
As far as I know, the shop is open until midnight.
He denies it to my face, but I just know he’s having an affair!
You know me, I have an eye for the ladies.

All I can really address is: “I contest that belief is never justified. I contest that belief is not a step towards knowledge. I contest that understanding, logic and reason is the prerequisite for knowledge. Once that is obtained, a state of knowing “becomes”. I don’t agree that it is a state of “believing”.”

Belief is not claimed to be a step towards knowledge. The claim you’re trying to fight is that belief is a supercategory of knowledge, not an ingredient. Understanding, logic and reason can (and usually do) also form beliefs. If you come home from work and see your brother’s car in the driveway and hear a male voice singing in the garage, do you not use the three of them to form a belief about who’s in there?

My impression is that you seem to have sanctified some things as “knowledge” in order to dismiss everything else as “not-knowledge”.

Capital of China? Population of the US? Geographical distribution of polar bears? Your mother’s maiden name?

It was one of the five; my point (also below) is that you seem to be doing the conflating.

I don’t think your claim about attitude is sufficient to conclude that epistemologists realise there’s a difference. As I said earlier, I think we use the verbs “know” and “believe” in different ways.

Sam Harris makes the claim that the brain handles facts and moral values identically, and concludes that they’re one and the same and therefore we can assess moral values as facts. The arguments he makes are all kinds of muddleheaded, but the research he did seems to indicate that mentally we treat facts and values identically. I don’t have a link, it’s in his Moral Landscape book, but I think Google can show a range of links that give a good picture (and hopefully critique).

You explicitly conflate the two in your OP, where I quoted it.

I think that’s a poor rule of thumb. An atheist who gets upset at his children being taught creationism in science class has lost the debate?