an epistemic note

Just one other thing before I go to bed. Generally I have a layered view of beliefs, corresponding to what you might call beliefs vs. aliefs, or your official position vs. what you really believe. This blog is going to contain a mixture of these, and that might get confusing. In particular, “do you really believe that?” well no I don’t, but I alieve it.

Not sure I really like the terminology here, especially as different uses of terminology would label different layers as being called “beliefs”. Wikipedia tells me the term alief was only introduced in 2008, and if they were really a thing surely someone would have noticed them before that?

Broadly speaking, aliefs control your behaviour but you may not consciously be aware of them. Beliefs control more what you say and what you think you believe. Either one might not correspond to reality, or might not correspond to the other. Turning a belief into an alief might be called “taking a belief seriously”. Turning an alief into a belief might be called “tuning into what you really believe”.

At some point I’ll figure out a writing style that makes it clear which level I’m trying to tap into at any one time. This particular post would be at the belief level, since aliefs are usually not as precise and structured as this, and it’s mostly stuff that I’d be willing to stand behind and say I think is true. The only point where it creates noticeable tension with my aliefs, though, is the whole “why did everyone before 2007ish seem to be missing certain important points?” thing. The alief is that things that seem obviously true always seemed obviously true, if not to me then at least to some class of intellectual elites. (And a sort of corollary that we aren’t still missing out on a whole bunch of other obvious stuff). The belief is that that isn’t quite how it works, but it’s hesitant to be too specific about recent examples.


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