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Grand Theories and Everyday BeliefsScience, Philosophy, and their Histories$
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Wallace Matson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812691

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812691.001.0001

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High and Low Beliefs

High and Low Beliefs

Chapter:
(p.37) Chapter 4 High and Low Beliefs
Source:
Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs
Author(s):

Wallace Matson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812691.003.0004

Virtually all the beliefs of animals without language are formed in encounters with what they are about. Let us call them low beliefs. And with few exceptions they are true. People too have low beliefs, which like those of beasts are overwhelmingly true. But people can acquire beliefs in other ways: by being told and by imagination. Let us call these beliefs high. If people have acquired low beliefs and transmitted them to others who have not had the encounters generating them, these beliefs are individually high for those who take them on testimony, but socially low. Henceforward in this book the adverb will usually be omitted; “low belief” will mean “socially low belief”. The most successful mammalian species, Homo sapiens, is the one harboring the vast majority of false beliefs. Much of the rest of this book will be devoted to explaining how this can be and what are its consequences..

Keywords:   low belief, high belief, true, false, socially low/high belief, belief acquisition

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