Next, comes the idea of what one would rather get out of life. Is is more important to you to hold true beliefs or not hold a false beliefs? For me, it is more important to hold true beliefs. All this really means is that, at times, I am more willing to go out on a limb with my beliefs in an attempt to hold something that is true at the risk of being wrong, while others(and I believe Clifford would certainly fall in this category) will reserve judgment on a belief in general as to not risk possibly being wrong. The trade off is that they will miss out on holding true beliefs due to their doubt.
I think he[anyone who believes that avoiding false beliefs is more important] undervalues the implications of the difference between gaining as many true beliefs as possible vs. gaining as few false beliefs as possible. It seems that he would hold a similar view to the man who thinks it would be better to be blind because one may certainly view many bad things while not realizing the overwhelming amount of great things that will overshadow the bad. I do think it is somewhat funny and even somewhat hypocritical that he thinks he is justified in calling someone a lier for a miracle claim while risking the possibility that he is wrong. It would seem that a more logical response would be to simply reserve judgment entirely.
One can obviously always look at life from the sideline never forming an opinion, never asking a girl out, never getting involved for fear of being rejected, for fear of being wrong, for fear of failure, but such a life, to me, is no life at all.
Einstein did not worry that prior to 1921(or whatever year...I forget exactly) the theory of relativity was thought of as nonsense and neither did many others throughout history. In fact I would argue that the people who have achieved the most important discoveries and inventions throughout history, were those men and woman who formed a belief when no one else felt they were justified. A justified belief is only important on a subjective scale. Believing something is justified is about what the amount of evidence necessary for you to personally feel your opinion is reasonable; nothing more.
As I added in my previous post, which you may not have saw, I actually think that Mr. Clifford would maintain it is better to be wrong while claiming that something is false than it is to be right while claiming something is true with no corroboration from others. And I don't see his claim itself to be justifiable.
One more point, small but important, and our preliminaries are done. There are two ways of looking at our duty in the matter of opinion,-ways entirely different, and yet ways about whose difference the theory of knowledge seems hitherto to have shown very little concern. We must know the truth; and we must avoid error,-these are our first and great commandments as would-be knowers; but they are not two ways of stating an identical commandment, they are two separable laws. Although it may indeed happen that when we believe the truth A, we escape as an incidental consequence from believing the falsehood B, it hardly ever happens that by merely disbelieving B we necessarily believe A. We may in escaping B fall into believing other falsehoods, C or D, just as bad as B; or we may escape B by not believing anything at all, not even A.
Believe truth! Shun error!-these, we see, are two materially different laws; and by choosing between them we may end by coloring differently our whole intellectual life. We may regard the chase for truth as paramount, and the avoidance of error as secondary; or we may, on the other hand, treat the avoidance of error as more imperative, and let truth take its chance. Clifford, in the instructive passage which I have quoted, exhorts us to the latter course. Believe nothing, he tells us, keep your mind in suspense forever, rather than by closing it on insufficient evidence incur the awful risk of believing lies. You, on the other hand, may think that the risk of being in error is a very small matter when compared with the blessings of real knowledge, and be ready to be duped many times in your investigation rather than postpone indefinitely the chance of guessing true. I myself find it impossible to go with Clifford. We must remember that these feelings of our duty about either truth or error are in any case only expressions of our passional life. Biologically considered, our minds are as ready to grind out falsehood as veracity, and he who says, "Better go without belief forever than believe a lie!" merely shows his own preponderant private horror of becoming a dupe. He may be critical of many of his desires and fears, but this fear he slavishly obeys. He cannot imagine any one questioning its binding force. For my own part, I have also a horror of being duped; but I can believe that worse things than being duped may happen to a man in this world: so Clifford's exhortation has to my ears a thoroughly fantastic sound. It is like a general informing his soldiers that it is better to keep out of battle forever than to risk a single wound. Not so are victories either over enemies or over nature gained. Our errors are surely not such awfully solemn things. In a world where we are so certain to incur them in spite of all our caution, a certain lightness of heart seems healthier than this excessive nervousness on their behalf. At any rate, it seems the fittest thing for the empiricist philosopher.
If the attainment of truth is impossible then knowing whether or not we err is also impossible. How can one guard against the unknown?
Neither is exactly correct... We know truth to avoid error; and that much is true
I find it interesting that this seems to speak toward an entire philosophy of life.
There are two comments we may make about this. First, James is quite confused about what "real knowledge" is. It is not merely guessing correctly, but necessarily involves reason and evidence. Imagine, for example, there were six people, who, by faith, each formed a different belief about the outcome of a single fair roll of a fair die, so that each person believed that the outcome would be a different number. Excluding the possibility of the die not landing flat, we can be certain that five of the six would be wrong and one would be correct regarding the outcome. However, all of them, before the event, were equally unjustified in their belief. A person who had real knowledge of such a situation would believe that each of the six possible outcomes would be equally likely. To believe otherwise is to show a lack of understanding and knowledge of the situation. Curiously, James apparently believed that a belief based on a random guess, but that turns out to be true, is an example of "real knowledge," despite the fact that such a belief really demonstrates ignorance or extreme foolishness. (One may, of course, bet on an outcome without believing in advance that that outcome will necessarily occur; this should always be kept in mind, for although beliefs affect actions, beliefs are different from actions.) The person with the true belief in the outcome of the die roll, far from having real knowledge, is really demonstrating the opposite. The person with real knowledge in this situation, and many others of a like nature, necessarily suspends judgment-which is something James seems loathe to do, despite it being often the most sensible course. James instead preferred to commit the logical fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantium (also known as "appeal to ignorance"); because it had not been proven to James' satisfaction that certain propositions that he wished to believe are false, he concluded that they are true (as believing a statement is regarding that statement as true). Because he does not know the answer to questions that are important to him, he makes a bigoted guess and calls it "real knowledge" if his guess turns out to be true. The second comment we may make about this is that the two "commandments," "We must know the truth; and we must avoid error," are not
Okay, if I go back to my introductory philosophy books, one type of definition of truth which often crops up is some kind of correspondence theory. That is, between understanding and the states of affairs, that some notion of truth relies upon the correctness of my claims about things. This perspective more often gives rise to a whole set of subject object-predicate claims.
If I now turn to my chapter on Kant, I am informed that he asked himself, ' How do things come to be present to us as objects of experience in the first place? (from which empirical truth and false claims can be derived)'
He argued... that there [are] more than likely a priori conditions in which objects come to be presented to us, a priori
And I guess this is what he meant by conditions located in the essential structure of our being (whether these are genetically derived I have no idea). transcendental truth. It is these structures (these 'truths' using Kantian terminology) which precede and makes possible any claim about objects of our experience......
....Now, Heidegger argues that these things are not just present to us as mere objects of consciousness to which we then ascribe our meanings after the fact of their existence, but are already some-thing for us, they are already at hand, they have a context, meaning, intelligibility. They just wouldn't be there in the first place unless there were other things in existence. ....
The 'problem' with everyday philosophy, according to Heidegger, is that it is overtly prejudiced to mere propositional truths and overlooks the more fundamental condition in which many things, the totality of equipment and tools and gadgets, for example, can come to be some-thing with significance in the first place.
One ought not be a christian out of some fear, be it real or not, but out of love, hope, faith, and an experience of the truth they find through it.
Is there perhaps a Gestalt approach? The figure of truth emerges from the ground of falsehood.
The attainer of truth throws out nothing and sees the chalice one moment and the faces the next depending on the focus. The avoider of error throws out the chalice or throws out the faces.