- there is no standard definition. It refers to a system of beliefs that are interconnected in
something similar to a jigsaw puzzle. It is not merely a collection of separate, independent,
unrelated beliefs but instead an intertwined, interrelated, interconnected system of beliefs.
Aristotle’s Beliefs (300 BC to AD 1600)
- set of beliefs shared by a large segment of western culture based on Aristotle’s beliefs.
Examples of his beliefs:
- Earth is in the centre of the universe. It is stationary and things revolve around the earth.
- Four basic elements in the sublunar region, (btwn earth and moon) earth, water, air, fire.
- Objects in superlunar region (beyond the moon, incl moon, sun, stars) are composed of a 5 th
element named ether. Each element has essential nature which is why it behaves its way.
- Essential nature of each basic element is reflected in the way it tends to move.
- Earth element has a natural tendency to move toward the centre of the universe. (this is why
rocks fall straight down, since the centre of the earth is the centre of the universe)
- Water also has a tendency to move toward the centre of the universe (ex. When dirt and water
are mixed, both move downward but water will eventually end up above.
- Air moves toward a region above earth and water, below fire. (Ex. Air, when blown into water,
bubbles up through water)
- Fire has a tendency to move away from the centre (fire burns upward through air).
- Ether, composed of planets, stars, tends to move in a naturally perfect circular movement. (the
plants and stars continuously move in circles about the earth)
- Sublunar region: object in motion will naturally come to a halt because the elements composing
it have reached their natural place or because something (ex. Surface of the earth) prevents
them from continuing toward their natural place.
- Stationary object will remain, unless there is a source of motion (self motion, towards its natural
place, or an external source, like pushing)
- Aristotle also had views about ethics, politics, bio, psych, proper method for investigations etc
- Although his beliefs were wrong, based on the data available at the time, they were justified
- They were not random in the sense that they formed an interrelated, interlocking system of
beliefs. They are not haphazard but instead like a puzzle, fitting together coherently/consistently
- Pieces of a jigsaw are not independent or isolated, but interconnected and a consistent whole.
- Each belief is closely tied to the beliefs around it. Ex. Earth being in the centre connects with the
element earth having the tendency to move towards the centre of the universe. Earth is
comprised of the earthy element, so it fits together nicely. Or objects will move only with a
source of motion. Earth is heavy, it will not be moved.
- There are differences between the core and the peripheral pieces of the puzzle. - A core piece cannot be replaced without changing the entire puzzle. A piece near the periphery
can be replaced with little alteration.
- Ex. Aristotle believed there were 5 plants, he could have easily added a sixth. In contrast,
consider the earth being the centre. If changed, the entire puzzle would have to change.
Aristotle’s World View
- Worldview is a more generalized notion. For example, the western world from the death of
Aristotle to the 1600s shared an Aristotelian way of looking at the world. This doesn’t mean
everyone believed it exactly or nothing was added/modified.
- For instance, Aristotelian beliefs were mixed with religious beliefs. Some people believed in
Platonic based systems as an alternative
- 300 BC to the 1600s were very Aristotelian based.
Newtonian World View (Isaac Newton 1642-1727)
- Early 1600s, new evidence (telescope) arose that the Earth moved around the sun. This
discovery meant that the Aristotelian worldview was not viable.
Examples of beliefs:
- Earth revolves on its axis, every 24 hrs. Earth/plants move in elliptic orbits around the sun.
- A bit more than 100 elements.
- Objects behave the way they do bc of the influence of external forces (ex. Gravity)
- Objects like the planets, stars etc are composed of same basic elements as objects on the earth
- Same laws describing objects on earth (ex. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion) apply to
the objects such as planets and stars
- This is the worldview most of the western world was raised on and the jigsaw theory still
applies. Both views form a system however have different core beliefs.
- Do we really have any direct evidence that the earth moves around the sun? We do not feel the
movement, or high winds against us if we were to ride a bike. The world looks stationary outside
- It is reasonable, however, because it fits with the books, teachers etc.
- General point: we believe because it fits in our jigsaw puzzle
- Although most of us share beliefs, they are not beliefs we arrive at by common sense or
experience. We were simply raised on them which is why they seem correct.
Chapter 2 p 22-27 - Correspondence theories of truth: what makes a belief true is that it corresponds to an
independent objective reality. What makes it false is that it fails to correspond to that reality
- Coherence theories of truth: what makes a belief true is that it coherers with an overall
collection of belief. It is false because it fails to cohere.
- Reality refers to a “real” reality that is objective, independent of us, and in no way depends on
what people believe that reality to be like. Our beliefs do not affect reality.