To try and decipher the distinction between knowledge and belief we
must first understand what the meaning of Philosophy is. In its
simplest definition it translates to “the love of wisdom” taken from
the Greek word “philo” which means love and “sophia” meaning wisdom.
Philosophers love to know the truth about the general principles of
the world and they pursue the truth in these. Through the ages many
philosophers have been on a personal quest to discover the principles
of the universe and explain what is meant by knowledge and belief.
An opinion, statement or teaching can be a belief and to believe means
to regard or to accept what is being said is true, but it does not
have to be true to be believable. Descartes (1596–1650) was a
Rationalist; he believed he had to doubt everything known to him to
really understand knowledge. He defined belief as an active state of
mind in which agreement is either given or withheld to the
proposition. Whether he was awake or dreaming he was never in any
doubt that he was thinking and that his thoughts were real, hence his
famous quote “I think therefore I am”.
Others such as Hume (1711-1776) an empiricist went against the ideas
of rationalists, whilst identifying with belief being a particular
state of the mind considered it to be a passive state, which either
occurs or is absent in respect of the given proposition. In other
words we believe what we believe because of ‘custom and habit’. For
instance, the sun rises every day as we know it, so it is fair to
assume it will rise tomorrow morning and the morning after and...
... middle of paper ...
...een put out of his suffering and misery and
that if one were to treat an animal in this way would they not be
chastised for being cruel to animals. However, I have to consider if I
was faced with the same decision would I rather he were alive in some
form or would I be brave enough to let him go and grieve his death.
For all the opinions, beliefs, philosophical hypothesis, ethics and
morals there is no right answer but having an understanding of these
matters can help and guide us when faced with a medical decision that
will never be easy to make.
* * * * *
Bases on information from:
1. World Library & Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2 Edition
3. Lecture hand out on Bertram Russell
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