πίστις, Glaube).—(1) The recognition of the reality of an object
which is neither present in consciousness, nor discovered by the senses; (2) the
mind's assent to the truth of a proposition.
"Holding for true, or the subjective validity of a judgment in relation to
conviction (which is at the same time objectively valid), has the three
following degrees:—Opinion, Belief, and Knowledge. Opinion is a consciously
insufficient judgment, subjectively as well as objectively. Belief is
subjectively sufficient, but is recognised as being objectively insufficient.
Knowledge is both subjectively and objectively sufficient" (Kant's Critique of
Pure Reason, Doctrine of Method, Meiklejohn, p. 498; Max Müller, II. 705).
"Belief, assent, conviction, are words which I do not think admit of logical
definition, because the operation of mind signified by them is perfectly simple,
and of its own kind... Belief is always expressed in language by a proposition wherein something is
affirmed or denied. Belief admits of all degrees, from the slightest suspicion
to the fullest assurances. There are many operations of mind of which it is an
essential ingredient, as consciousness, perception, remembrance. We give the
name of evidence to whatever is a ground of belief (Reid, Intellectual Powers,
essay II. ch. XX.; Inquiry, XX. sec. 5).
"St Austin accurately says:—'We know what rests upon reason; we
rests upon authority." But reason itself must rest at last upon authority; for
the original data of reason do not rest upon reason, but are necessarily
accepted by reason on the authority of what is beyond itself. These data are,
therefore, in rigid propriety, beliefs or trusts. Thus it is, that in the last
resort, we must, perforce, philosophically admit, that belief is the primary
condition of reason, and not reason the ultimate ground of belief. We are
compelled to surrender the proud Intellige ut credas of Abelard, to content
ourselves with the humble Crede ut intelligas of Anselm" (Hamilton,
Works, note A, sec. 5, p. 760).
Belief, in contradistinction to knowledge, always ought to indicate some case in
which the objective evidence is incomplete, and of which the opposite does not
imply either impossibility or absurdity. We cannot, accordingly, in propriety of
language, say:—"I believe I have a pen in my hand and a sheet of paper before
me," or I believe that two and two make four, or I believe in my own existence
or the law of gravitation. "These are things which we know... We have used
the adjective natural in connection with the word belief, to indicate that state
of rational intelligence which comes next of all to knowledge; which forms the
transition point between positive knowledge and personal conviction" (Morell,
Mental Philosophy, p. 325).
Hamilton says (Letter to Calderwood in Appendix to Metaphysics,
sphere of our belief is much more extensive than the sphere of our knowledge,
and therefore when I deny that the Infinite can by us be known, I am far from
denying that by us it is, must, and ought to be believed. In the order of
nature, belief always precedes knowledge" (Sir W. Hamilton, Metaphysics,
The meaning is that knowledge has in each particular instance faith as its
basis, and all human knowledge finds its resting-place on necessary belief
(Calderwood, Phil. of Infin., 2nd ed., p. 29).
"The word believing has been variously and loosely employed. It is frequently
used to denote states of consciousness which have already their separate and
appropriate appellations. Thus it is sometimes said:—'I believe in my own
existence and the existence of an external world, I believe in the facts of
nature, the axioms of geometry, the affections of my own mind,' as well as 'I
believe in the testimony of witnesses, or in the evidence of historical
"Setting aside this loose application of the term, I propose to confine it,
first, to the effect on the mind of the premises in what is termed probable
reasoning, or what I have named contingent reasoning—in a word, the premises of
all reasoning, but that which is demonstrative; and, secondly, to the state of
holding true when that state, far from being the effect of any premises
discerned by the mind, is dissociated
from all evidence" (Bailey, Letters on Philosophy of Human Mind, 8vo, 1851, p.
75; Essays on Formation of Opinions, 8vo, 1831).