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The Fixation of Belief - Book Report/Review Example

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Though doubt and belief are different from one another, they are the same in that they both involve the thought process, and they both shape a person's actions and motivations. Though these activities are similar in many ways, their differences should be noted so that no one may confuse one for the other.
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The Fixation of Belief
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Download file to see previous pages If someone did not believe that something should be done, he'd be less likely to engage in action, since normally, people do not do what they do not believe in.
Sometimes, belief causes a person to feel too stable, not allowing him to accept any sort of change. This could take the form of comfort in one's view of politics, economics, religion, etc., without thinking of the possible correctness of any other position. There is nothing wrong with having a little bit of doubt, as doubt forces a person to question things and arrive at the state of belief (Peirce 4). Too much doubt, on the other hand, can cause some issues.
A person in a state of doubt does not enjoy that comfort. He is forced to struggle mentally, to reason with both facts and opinions, with the hope of attaining belief and certainty. In other words, a state of belief is comfortable, while a state of doubt makes someone feel uncertain and unsure of his actions. He wrestles with his inner self, trying to figure out whether or not he should do what he is intending to do.
The goal of doubt is to achieve the goal of belief; or to use Peirce's terminology, "to fixate belief." This is the central problem which Charles Sanders Peirce had tried to resolve in "The Fixation of Belief." He offered and discussed four possible methods that a person could put into practice that would enable him to go from doubt to belief: a) tenacity b) authority c) a priori d) scientific investigation.
The first method Peirce discussed is "The Method of Tenacity." At its literal meaning, tenacity is synonymous with persistence. In ordinary usage, one may say, "That guy's tenacity served him well. He ran for various positions in government but failed. Until one day, he succeeded in becoming President." In the ordinary sense, tenacity has a positive effect on a person. But this is not the case in Peirce's essay. Tenacity is a person's decision to hold to a position or belief no matter what. He may cling to it, in spite of the absence or presence of external evidence in support or opposition to it (Peirce 5).
The second method is "The Method of Authority." As with the first, whether or not a claim is correct depends on the one in charge and what he feels is right. The person or institution that has authority imposes on another should be believed. Of course, to the degree a person accepts such authority, the less he will be in the state of doubt and can proceed readily to believe (Peirce 6).
The third method is "The a priori Method." In regards to this method, "Knowledge is power." And knowledge, in the a priori sense of the word, is the product of human thought and not of experience. It offers man the freedom to think and believe what he wants to believe. Peirce noted that in many respects, this is similar to the method of authority. But instead of another person or institution imposing its will on another, the person and his reasoning mind is the only authority he accepts. Thus, "man becomes the true measure of himself." (Peirce 7)
The fourth but very important method is "The Method of Scientific Investigation." It is the systematic process of making observations, making hypotheses, verifying such hypotheses to experimentation, and producing generalizations (Peirce 8). ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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