Re: virus: Phaith page on

Fri, 04 Jun 1999 00:05:26 -0700

The phaith page can be found at:

Eric Boyd wrote:

> I have a question for KMO: do you think that phaith should/can be used
> to strengthen belief in falsifiable propositions?

That's a good question. I'm not sure. I'll give it some thought and say more on the topic within the next day or so.

> For example,
> "If truth is the goal, rationality is the way"
> -- David McF.
> is a falsifiable proposition, with (IMO) lots of evidence behind it,
> but no certainity.

I think I see what you mean. David's maxim (above) may well be falsifiable, but it seems to satisfy definition #2 of phaith, viz. that level of trust in one's modus which is necessary to function in an uncertain world, in which case there would be more overlap between phaith and dogmatism than I would like.

My guess is that David would agree that the maxim is falsifiable and say that his belief in it is proportionate with the evidence for it, i.e. overwhelming, but subject to re-examination in light of new evidence. But that doesn't really work, does it? It would be his commitment to rationality that would prescribe re-examining the maxim in light of that new evidence. Hmmm.... tricky.

> Is it really beyond the scope of phaith? If not,
> do we have to change the definitions and our understanding of phaith?

Perhaps we need to cut out definition #2 and call that "fides," as the Hermit suggested.

One thing I would say to prompt a re-evaluation of the question of whether David's maxim constitutes an example of phaith is this: If one's commitment is to the truth of a proposition, then one has faith rather than phaith.

Anyway, this will require some more thought. Again, good question, Eric.

Take care.


"You're not being asked to believe it," said Dr. Robert. "The real thing isn't a proposition; it's a state of being. We don't teach our children creeds or get them worked up over emotionally charged symbols. When it's time for them to learn the deepest truths of religion, we set them to climb a precipice and then give them four hundred milligrams of revelation. Two firsthand experiences of reality, from which any reasonably intelligent boy or girl can derive a very good idea of what's what."

-Aldous Huxley, _Island_