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Belief ‘In’ and Belief ‘That’1

  • H. H. Price (a1)

Epistemologists have not usually had much to say about believing ‘in’, though ever since Plato's time they have been interested in believing ‘that’. Students of religion, on the other hand, have been greatly concerned with belief ‘in’, and many of them, I think, would maintain that it is something quite different from belief ‘that’. Surely belief ‘in’ is an attitude to a person, whether human or divine, while belief ‘that’ is just an attitude to a proposition? Could any difference be more obvious than this? And if we over-look it, shall we not be led into a quite mistaken analysis of religious belief, at any rate if it is religious belief of the theistic sort? On this view belief ‘in’ is not a propositional attitude at all.

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Page 5 note 2 From now on, I shall sometimes write ‘belief-in’ and ‘belief-that’ with hyphens.

Page 6 note 1 We need not here consider in what sense God may be described as ‘personal’. It is sufficient for our purpose that in theistic religion personal pronouns are held to be applicable to the Supreme Being: and not only the pronoun ‘we’, but also (and more important) the pronouns ‘thou’ or ‘you’.

Page 7 note 1 SirCadbury, Egbert, The Times, 9 09 1959.

Page 10 note 1 We shall see presently that there are other examples where the propositions believed belong to other logical types (p. ii, below).

1 Much of Part I of this article is a reproduction of a lecture which was included in the writer's Gifford Lectures, delivered at the University of Aberdeen in 1959–60.

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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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