Beliefs and Attributes

Philosophy 36 (137):196 - 210 (1961)

Abstract

In a philosophical paper the point one wishes to make should be stated at the very outset. And in dealing with a problem which is as controversial as religion, the bias should be confessed before any points are made. I want to conform at once to both these requirements. I want to discuss beliefs, ordinary beliefs but mainly religious ones, for the expression of which, oddly enough, we use the same word. “Belief” and “Faith” are admittedly different in English, but many languages possess only one word for these and further I shall try to show that even in English the difference is not very great and that they have, if not the same, at least a very similar logical grammar. The point of my argument is that beliefs can be discussed rationally and that they should be so discussed. Religious arguments have been going on for a very long time, and I find it incredible that people of immense intellectual qualities, who devoted their time and energy to these discussions, have been working under a simple delusion, not understanding the very nature of the thing they were doing

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