"Believe" to imply doubt

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Vaniver
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"Believe" to imply doubt

Postby Vaniver » Tue May 26, 2009 3:09 pm UTC

One of the things I've noticed about my speaking is that I'll say "I believe X is the case" when I'm mostly sure that X is the case, and "I know X is the case" when I'm sure X is the case. Actually thinking it through, though, it seems that "believe" should carry a stronger belief in the veracity than "know."

Is my usage standard usage? Or am I doing the reverse?
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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby TaintedDeity » Tue May 26, 2009 3:15 pm UTC

I'll only say I know something if I've seen it with my own eyes or heard it from multiple trusted sources.
We know things because they are true.
It's easy to believe something that isn't necessarily true, belief doesn't require proof.
I'd say you've got it right.
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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby tetromino » Tue May 26, 2009 5:09 pm UTC

Unless my memory fails me, my high school epistemology teacher had defined "knowledge" as "justified and true belief".

So your usage is correct; belief is necessary, but not sufficient, for knowledge.

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby Yakk » Tue May 26, 2009 5:33 pm UTC

||belief||certainty < ||know||certainty is something I believe to be standard use.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby Bobber » Tue May 26, 2009 6:06 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:||belief||certainty < ||know||certainty is something I believe to be standard use.
Now I know that's right.
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby Minchandre » Tue May 26, 2009 11:34 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:||belief||certainty < ||know||certainty is something I believe to be standard use.


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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby mastered » Thu May 28, 2009 3:38 am UTC

This is interesting.
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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby 6453893 » Thu May 28, 2009 4:47 am UTC

"I know X" depends on the truth value of X. "I believe X" cannot be disproved, regardless of X. I think people simply use it to hedge against being wrong. When X turns out to be false, you can always say "I only stated that I believed X to be true. I never asserted X to be absolutely true."

This is also my criticism of Cartesian Skepticism, by the way.

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby Simbera » Fri May 29, 2009 1:03 pm UTC

^ This is pretty much what I do - many times of being burned (ie gossip + childhood gullability) and also of just bluffing and saying I was sure of something when I wasn't (ie science + teenage arrogance) have made me change my ways, and now I say "I believe X" one hell of a lot - I only use "I know X" when I'm absolutely sure.

That said, I would rarely use the construction "I know X", as if I were that sure I would simply state the fact. That is, "I believe he went to the supermarket" (but he may have just gone to the 7-11) or "He went to the supermarket" (I'm sure; I saw him walking in) but almost never "I know he went to the supermarket".

Note also that I would use "think" interchangeably with "believe" in this construction.

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby erebfaer » Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:36 am UTC

I am a solipsist (EDIT: I should read forum rules more often... look it up in wikipedia or something) which results in me only using 'know' in one situation (or when I'm trying to avoid confusion). Every other time I will use 'believe' in a situation where someone would usually use 'know' and will use 'think' when in doubt. However it could be said that I doubt everything so my opinion may be fairly useless.

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby 6453893 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:28 am UTC

erebfaer wrote:I am a solipsist (EDIT: I should read forum rules more often... look it up in wikipedia or something) which results in me only using 'know' in one situation (or when I'm trying to avoid confusion). Every other time I will use 'believe' in a situation where someone would usually use 'know' and will use 'think' when in doubt. However it could be said that I doubt everything so my opinion may be fairly useless.


No.

Just no.

This is bad and you should feel bad.

Then again, you live in Tasmania, so it is probable you have never seen another real human being.

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby TaintedDeity » Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:39 am UTC

6453893 wrote:
erebfaer wrote:I am a solipsist (EDIT: I should read forum rules more often... look it up in wikipedia or something) which results in me only using 'know' in one situation (or when I'm trying to avoid confusion). Every other time I will use 'believe' in a situation where someone would usually use 'know' and will use 'think' when in doubt. However it could be said that I doubt everything so my opinion may be fairly useless.


No.

Just no.

This is bad and you should feel bad.

Then again, you live in Tasmania, so it is probable you have never seen another real human being.
Care to explain?
The only badness I see is your unwarranted attack and I want to learn.
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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby 6453893 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:28 pm UTC

So he dredges up this thread to tell us that he is a solipsist. Wonderful. Never mind whatever convoluted justification he has for participating in a forum, he is proposes that he can only know one thing, in a series of declarative statements. Do you know for a fact that you never use the word 'know'? Do you even know that you believe that to be the case? If you were really a solipsist, you would not be so brazen as to make these statements. If you really doubted everything outside your own consciousness, you would not have typed any of that text, because every last drop of it relies on the assumption of some fact. I contend that you are in fact not a solipsist, but simply want to be one. If I asked whether or not the lights are on, your first and immediate instinct would be "I know they are on/off", which means you are just mentally self-correcting. I have never met a so-called solipsist who follows through with their philosophy.

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby erebfaer » Sat Jun 20, 2009 3:36 am UTC

There isn't many ways you can follow through on solipsism... you can become a nihilist, but thats pointless and boring. Just because everything else doesn't necessarily exist doesn't mean that they don't, I just can't know if they do. I behave as though what I perceive exists because it keeps me entertained, however I can also behave as though something I have not perceived exists. Solipsism has made things much more interesting for me.

And as for my reason for my declarative statements, it can be extremely difficult to convey an idea with out using them. I could go back and end each sentence with 'maybe' if you like.
I brought up solipsism because it provides a new view on this topic which seems to be the usage of the word 'believe'.

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby 6453893 » Sat Jun 20, 2009 3:45 am UTC

erebfaer wrote:There isn't many ways you can follow through on solipsism... you can become a nihilist, but thats pointless and boring. Just because everything else doesn't necessarily exist doesn't mean that they don't, I just can't know if they do. I behave as though what I perceive exists because it keeps me entertained, however I can also behave as though something I have not perceived exists. Solipsism has made things much more interesting for me.

And as for my reason for my declarative statements, it can be extremely difficult to convey an idea with out using them. I could go back and end each sentence with 'maybe' if you like.
I brought up solipsism because it provides a new view on this topic which seems to be the usage of the word 'believe'.


Not really. First, you seem to be confusing solipsism with skepticism. Solipsism is pointless and boring. Pointless and boring is the only logical conclusion a real solipsist may draw. People do not choose to become solipsists to make their lives 'interesting'. Real solipsists do not choose solipsism at all. Don't worry though, all my previous criticism of so-called solipsists still applies. More to the point, this is Language and Linguistics. Everything you said fits within the definition of 'believe' just fine. You did not bring a new view to this topic. We get it, you are so edgy never using the word 'know' because nothing is real &c. There is nothing here of linguistic note.

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby erebfaer » Sat Jun 20, 2009 5:26 am UTC

You seem to have drawn a false conclusion. I did not choose solipsism, I came to it as a logical progression some time over the last three years (I don't remember when this part of my philosophy came up). I only found out that it was called solipsism the other month when a friend sent me a link to the wikipedia page.

And once again, just because my own existence is the only thing I can know doesn't mean other things don't exist. Even things I cannot perceive may exist. This allows me to believe what I wish and I am justified in doing so.

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby 6453893 » Sat Jun 20, 2009 5:51 am UTC

erebfaer wrote:And once again, just because my own existence is the only thing I can know doesn't mean other things don't exist. Even things I cannot perceive may exist. This allows me to believe what I wish and I am justified in doing so.


I will reiterate; that's not solipsism. That is the definition of skepticism.

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:24 pm UTC

This thread is not about solipsism.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby n7a7v7i » Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:02 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:This thread is not about solipsism.


All threads inevitably lead to solipsism.

Mods are part of a huge conspiracy to keep discussions away from this subject.

Didn't ya get the memo? =D

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby sparks » Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:16 pm UTC

^ You are my new favourite user.

Seriously, if people are going to be arguing about solpsisim, then it should be placed in another thread.

Yes. Which is why I already said this isn't the thread (or the forum, for that matter) for it. Stop now. - gmalivuk

That said, ia with ereb.

Back on topic, though, "believe" seems to express just that, a belief that may or may not be true. I don't think it has solely to do with the part of whether it is veriable or not, otherwise the phrase "I believe John went to Walmart" is using the term incorrectly. It may be unverifiable for the time being, however. The phrase know, however, expresses certainty in the truth of the fact expressed.
"I believe John is a nice person." =/= "I know John is a nice person" or "I believe there is intelligent life in other planets" =/= "I Know there is intelligent life in other planets".
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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby 6453893 » Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:33 am UTC

We have continued our discussion via PM. I wish I could post it somewhere; it is an interesting topic.

sparks, I'm not sure how what you said differs from the previous conclusions. I do believe, however, that it is not as simple as 'Believe XOR Know', as you have proposed. For instance, even know can be used to express doubt:

"Do you know if John went to the mall?"
"I know he left for it."

Setting aside the issue of whether or not you can ever truly know John left with the intention of going to the mall, the statement fits well within your definition of 'know', and yet carries a heavy implication of doubt. Then there are the other points on the Know-Don't Know gradient.

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby erebfaer » Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:09 pm UTC

"I believe John is a nice person." =/= "I know John is a nice person"


This brought up another thought... Believe can be used to express an opinion as in "I believe John is a nice person, though your opinion may differ".

Additional: I'm suprised there's no forum for philosophy... but if you find a place for a thread regarding our conversation feel free to post the PMs.

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Re: "Believe" to imply doubt

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 23, 2009 8:39 pm UTC

Philosophical topics tend to get discussed in Serious Business. If you want it to be a philosophically rigorous discussion, call the topic [Philosophy] Solipsism or something along those lines, per this post.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
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