• Janus
    4.3k


    There is a distinction between 'belief' that is pre-linguistic and belief that is linguistically mediated.

    Then there is a distinction between thinking about pre-linguistic 'belief' and thinking about linguistically mediated belief. There is a tendency to impute the characteristics of the latter; propositionality, the ability to be "held" or "had" , and so on, to the former.

    These are the relevant distinctions as I see it; and not the distinction between belief and thinking about belief, per se. This is because linguistically mediated beliefs may be either implicit or explicit, that is more or less conscious, all without actually being thought about.
  • Banno
    1.8k
    One being that belief is nothing more than behaviour, the other that belief is a description of behaviour.Metaphysician Undercover

    Curiously, but not surprisingly, this is not my argument.

    My argument is that beliefs are explanations for behaviour, such that they set out what would be true in order for the behaviour to make sense.

    But that's why I gave up; there is no point in entering into a discussion with someone who constantly misrepresents what has been said.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.2k
    But that's why I gave up; there is no point in entering into a discussion with someone who constantly misrepresents what has been said.Banno

    What's even worse, is having discussion with someone who denies saying what was said, and replaces it with something else, as if the something else is what was said.

    Or does that belief amount to nothing more than the collection of tomato-related behaviours?Banno
    My argument is that beliefs are explanations for behaviour, such that they set out what would be true in order for the behaviour to make sense.Banno

    Do you recognize, that it makes a substantial difference to change what you say from "nothing more than the collection of tomato related behaviours", to "explanations for behaviour, such that they set out what would be true in order for the behaviour to make sense"?

    As I really do not want to misrepresent what you say, care to explain what you mean by "set out what would be true in order for the behaviour to make sense"? As far as I can tell, "what would be true in order for the behaviour to make sense" refers to a capacity of the one trying to make sense of the behaviour, rather than a capacity of the one who is performing the behaviour.

    Are you, as I suggested, saying that belief is a property of the person explaining the behaviour, and not a property of the one performing the behaviour? Or, do you take the position which I ascribe to Sam26, that belief is attributable to the explanation itself, that the statements, along with the meaning and belief, exist independently of the person making the statement?
  • creativesoul
    2k
    Historically epistemologists have held that the content of belief is propositional. This would make perfect sense in light of requiring that one justify his/her own beliefs. The account is the justification on their view, as has been mentioned previously. If one claims 'X', then one believes that 'X' is true, assuming a sincere speaker. 'X' here is held as the belief itself. Let 'X' be a statement. A belief statement, as it were. Stating 'X' is to state that one believes 'X'. In light of all this, Banno's definition of "belief" as an explanation makes perfect sense.

    However...

    Offering an account of one's own belief is to report upon it. Offering an account of another's belief is to report upon another's belief. This is a metacognitive endeavor, and as such it is existentially dependent upon language. It is to explain belief to another. Non-linguistic animals cannot do such a thing. We know this. If belief is an explanation for behaviour, then the only creatures capable of belief are those with complex written language.

    I'm putting it to you, the reader, that there are inherent inadequacies in the historical account. It does not follow from the fact that we use language to explain 'X' that the content of 'X' is linguistic. Let X be a rock. Rocks do not consist of statements/language. Some beliefs, like rocks, exist as they are prior to our awareness of them; prior to our discovery of them. These beliefs are pre-linguistic, and they are the sorts of things that help get language(shared meaning) off the ground, along with other things. They cannot possibly consist of statements/language.

    The historical error that Witt never quite grasped, but rather skirted around, is and always has been the failure to draw and maintain the crucial distinction between thought, belief and thinking about thought and belief. Neglecting to do this renders one's position completely incapable of distinguishing between belief that is not existentially dependent upon language and belief that is.
  • creativesoul
    2k
    There is a distinction between 'belief' that is pre-linguistic and belief that is linguistically mediated.

    Then there is a distinction between thinking about pre-linguistic 'belief' and thinking about linguistically mediated belief. There is a tendency to impute the characteristics of the latter; propositionality, the ability to be "held" or "had" , and so on, to the former.

    These are the relevant distinctions as I see it; and not the distinction between belief and thinking about belief, per se. This is because linguistically mediated beliefs may be either implicit or explicit, that is more or less conscious, all without actually being thought about.
    Janus

    The subject matter(what thought and belief consist in/of) is far more nuanced than this particular thread has shown. Unfortunately, it is all about belief...

    I'm not sure I follow you though...

    What's 'wrong' with saying that non-linguistic creatures form and hold belief?

    :-|
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.2k
    If one claims 'X', then one believes that 'X' is true, assuming a sincere speaker. 'X' here is held as the belief itself. Let 'X' be a statement. A belief statement, as it were. Stating 'X' is to state that one believes 'X'. In light of all this, Banno's definition of "belief" as an explanation makes perfect sense.creativesoul

    There's one significant problem here. This conclusion requires that the speaker is sincere, and speakers are not always sincere. As we see when someone is on trial, one's explanations for one's actions are not necessarily one's beliefs.
  • Janus
    4.3k


    Because "forming" and "holding" are hallmarks of propositionality.
  • creativesoul
    2k


    Well yes, assuming sincerity...
  • creativesoul
    2k
    As we see when someone is on trial, one's explanations for one's actions are not necessarily one's beliefsMetaphysician Undercover

    This person does have beliefs however... despite his/her deliberately misrepresenting them.
  • creativesoul
    2k
    What's 'wrong' with saying that non-linguistic creatures form and hold belief?creativesoul

    Because "forming" and "holding" are hallmarks of propositionality.Janus

    Explain what being a hallmark of 'propositionality' entails
  • creativesoul
    2k
    Is it anything more than being words used to discuss propositions?
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