No matter how strongly a thing may be believed, strength of belief is no criterion of truth.
Friedrich Nietzsche (via introskeptic)
—Frank P. Ramsey
This quote is almost trivially true. No doxastic theorist of truth (e.g. Rorty) would say strength of belief is the criterium of truth. A charitable interpetation of Nietzsche would be: “strength of belief is no criterion of reasonability.” But can strength of belief meaningfully linked to truth? There’s a way it could: if strength of belief is linked to justification (controversial), and justification is linked to truth (controversial). The bayesian tradition makes an interesting case for the former, epistemological reliabilism for the latter. About the image, there’s nothing wrong with the Nietzsche quote. I just wanted to make a small tribute Ramsey, one of the first persons to make a systematic treatment of degrees of belief.
No one can be a great thinker who does not recognise, that as a thinker it is his first duty to follow his intellect to whatever conclusions it may lead. Truth gains more even by the errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself, than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think.
John Stuart Mill: On Liberty
There can be no difference anywhere that doesn’t make a difference elsewhere – no difference in abstract truth that doesn’t express itself in a difference in concrete fact and in conduct consequent upon that fact, imposed on somebody, somehow, somewhere, and somewhen.
Why do we bother with argument? We bother with argument because it matters to us that we believe responsibly, and it bothers us when we find that we have made a mistake or have been duped. The fact that others disagree with the things we believe occasions in us the concern that, in forming our beliefs, we have overlooked or misjudged some important piece of evidence or some compelling kind of reason. In cases where the beliefs in question are important, we often call upon those who reject what we believe to provide their own reasons, and we subsequently attempt to weigh their reasons against our own. Even though some arguments over Big Questions seem to go on and on, we engage in the activity of arguing for the sake of caring for our beliefs.
If I do nothing, if I study nothing, if I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it — keep going, keep going come what may.
'You must change your life!' - these words seem to come from a sphere in which no objections can be raised. Nor can we establish from where they are spoken; only their verticality is beyond doubt. […] It is not enough to say that Rilke retranslated ethics in an aestheticizing fashion into a succinct, cyclopian, archaic-brutal form. He discovered a stone that embodies the torso of 'religion', ethics and asceticism as such: a construct that exudes a call from above, reduced to the pure command, the unconditional instruction, the illuminated utterance of being that can be understood - and which only speaks in the imperative.
If one wished to transfer all the teaches of the papyrus religions, the parchment religions, the stylus and quill religions, the calligraphical and typographical, all order rules and sect programmes, all instruction for meditation and doctrines of stages, and all training programmes and dietologies into a single workshop where they would be summarized in a final act of editing: their utmost concentrate would express nothing other than what the poet sees emanating from the archaic torso of Apollo in a moment of translucidity.
'You must change your life!' - this is the imperative that exceeds the options of hypothetical and categorical. It is the absolute imperative—the quintessential metanoetic command. It provides the keyword for revolution in the second person singular. It defines life as a slope from its higher to its lower forms. I am already living, but something is telling me with unchallengable authority: you are not living properly. The numinous authority of form enjoys the prerogative of being able to tell me 'You must'. It is the authority of a different life in this life. This authority touches on a subtle insufficiency within me that is older and freer than sin; it is my innermost not-yet. In my most conscious moment, I am affected by the absolute objection to my status quo: my change is the one thing that is necessary.
To become oneself, however, is to become something concrete. The development must accordingly consist in infinitely coming away from oneself, in an infinitizing of the self, and in infinitely coming back to oneself in the finitization. If, on the other hand, the self does not become itself, then it is in despair, whether it knows it or not. Yet, a self, every moment it exists, is in a process of becoming.