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"That the prophet preached certain doctrines and predicted that we would find in them spiritual comfort only proves his sympathy for the human nature and his knowledge of it ; but it doesn't prove his superhuman knowledge of theology." — William Cllifford, The Ethics of Belief, 1877.

In that short but fundamental essay, Clifford sets up the principle for an ethical atittude towards beliefs: the most crucial question, the most important question to ask is not to know whether such a belief leads us to act well, or is useful or makes one feel good; it is not to know whether the prophet's teachings will improve society as a whole — the essential question is "how could he possibly know whether what he preaches is the truth?" This is a question rarely asked, but within that framework, it is the only relevant one, because it is the one that determines the ethical validity of believing. It leads Clifford to formulate the following princile : "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to ignore evidence that is relevant to his beliefs, or to dismiss relevant evidence in a facile way."

Later pragmatists (notably James in 1896) will strongly oppose that view, but as Russell explained (Bertrand Russell, Why I am not a Christian, 1957), adhering to a belief for its measurable advantages is neither ethical nor grounded on any kind of attraction towards truth, as efficiency is unrelated to morality (if not opposed to it). It is calling "true" what isn't, and what we have no reason to think it might be, just for the benefits of it.

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BatboyEXE Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2013
Happy Birthday! :) :cake: :party:
captivesiren Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
You came online yesterday? It's a Christmas miracle! ;)
finnwitch Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It was a dark Christmas Day 2013, when the Finnish Witch saw something really bright on the southern sky. It was not the sun! The sun is sleeping below the horizon this time of the year, this far up north. 

The Witch thought: "How strange! I wonder what that is?" 
But she didn't realize what it was until a couple of days later: It must have been a star over France, leading us minions to our reborn king! He, Sha'll have presents, like gold, frankincense and myrrh.. 
Nah. Let's make that vodka. Just vodka!
(And maybe a bit of dark chocolate. One must eat.)

"There is only one problem in here, and it's a real problem indeed", thinks the Finnish Witch, " the hell can we find three wise (wo)men amongst us?!"

finnwitch Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I concur.
All hail the Lord!
captivesiren Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I miss soon...
Poetically-Yours Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013
He's gone on a visit to see family. It's hard for him to get a good wifi in that area so that's probably why he hasn't been online in a while. I have no idea when he'll be back but I figured I'd give you an update on what I know anyway.
captivesiren Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much for letting me know. I assumed he was visiting family, but I couldn't be sure. I hope he gets back soon.
I'm Meredith by the way. Thank you again for the update :).
Poetically-Yours Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2013
hubert61 Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2013
merci pour les favs :)
mr-krebs Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thank you for the page visit
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