Belief and Knowledge: Types of Knowledge and Degrees of Belief

By Yılmaz Özakpınar.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Human knowledge, such as: experience; opinion; impression; inference; intuition; insight; feeling; introspective awareness; reasoned conclusion; ideology; plan of an engineering construction; scientific theory, is essentially belief since one cannot be certain about its validity or correspondence to reality or truth. There are degrees of belief regarding empirically based knowledge. In this context, belief is equivalent to probability. There are potentially limitless ways of obtaining new evidence for or against a belief about the empirical world. When someone has faith in the truth of a religious tenet or of an ideology, that means he is not interested in testing it, and this provides for this person a subjective certainty. In everyday life we implicitly try to test our opinions and beliefs about the events in the empirical world although it is not always possible due to the pressure of time or our biases. In those areas of knowledge where a person professes faith, on the other hand, it is either impossible to test, as it is the case in having faith in a religious tenet, or there is refusal to test as it is the case with believing in an ideology. It is argued that the conflict of religion and science on any matter is philosophically absurd although it is an historical fact, because knowledge based on faith and scientific knowledge are not alternatives of each other: the first is not testable by the observations in the empirical world and held to be certain, and the second is testable and held to be only probable.

Keywords: Types of Knowledge, Belief and Faith, Testability, Criteria of Knowledge, Religion and Science, Probability and Scientific Theories

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.285-292. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 740.449KB).

Dr. Yılmaz Özakpınar

Professor, Department of Psychology, Istanbul Arel University, Istanbul, Turkey

I am a graduate of Cambridge University. I got my Ph.D. from Istanbul University and worked there as Professor of Psychology between 1978-2001. I was awarded an Alexander von Humboldt scholarship and did research at the University of Cologne, Forschungsinstitut für Soziologie for two years and at the University of Bern, Abteilung der pedagogischen Psychologie for three months. I was a visiting Fulbright professor at the University of Oregon for six months. My interest in Psychology lies, primarily, in the area of Learning, Memory and Thinking, and secondarily,in the problems of Cultural Change. Presently, I work on the psychological processes of decision-making and choice, and the theory of voluntary behavior.

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