Belief (Muirhead Library of Philosophy) by Henry Habberley Price

By Henry Habberley Price

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What is known here is not a fact or a truth but an entity of some kind, or sometimes a group of entities. Most commonly, the entity is either a thing or a person. I use the word 'thing' with some misgivings. It is a little odd to call Scotland or Kensington Gardens a thing, and if we do call them things, we have to say that both of them are highly complex things. But at any rate they are actual existent entities, and both of them are material entities. A person (or at least all the persons we should ordinarily claim to know) is a material entity too, but that is not all he is; so we ordinarily distinguish between persons and THE VARIETIES OF KNOWLEDGE 51 things.

We should not ordinarily be said to know something by acquaintance unless we had familiarized ourselves with it in some degree, so that we are able to recognize it when we encounter it again. At any rate, we must be able to recognize it in 'easy cases' where there are no special obstacles, such as poor light, defective eyesight, disguises such as false beards etc. We have to ask, therefore, whether the same two features, 'first-handness' and familiarity, are present in these philosophical usages of the term 'knowledge by acquaintance'.

Moreover, in this usage of the word 'believe', it would obviously be absurd to say of someone that he believes something firmly or strongly. It would be rather like saying that he slept slumbrously or sat in a sitting posture. ). It cannot be denied that both these uses of the word 'believe' can claim some sanction from common speech, though the second, I think (the solemn or degree-less one), is mostly confined to special contexts, particularly religious and political ones. Some people perhaps would say that it is only applicable to belief in.

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