The Psychology of Conviction: A Study of Beliefs and Attitudes

By Joseph Jastrow | Go to book overview

II
BELIEF AND CREDULITY

THE introductory essay has set forth that the approach to the psychology of conviction is through the portals of logic. The individual faces the problem in the question: What beliefs shall I accept and what reject? The principles determining selection and rejection at once engage the student; for their function is not only to determine the critical standards, but to defend them. The fixation of belief as a practical process, which each shares as well as witnesses, must be studied not only as a process, but in terms of its foundations. The present study undertakes a critical survey of these foundations. In its course it uses the method of contrast to illustrate the consequences of defection in the logical standards of evidence. While the central issue is the logical principle of fixation, the determination of the logically acceptable is the natural completion of the problem. Right belief and credulity refer to habits of mind as well as to standards of evidence. Their joint consideration determines the course of argument.


I

The vital history of human development is to be sought in the history of beliefs. The inscriptions of Egypt or of Babylon, though rendered in modern tongues, speak an imperfect message until illuminated by some insight into the beliefs which these cultures

-37-

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