James F. Ross

Introduction. The notion of rational certainty[1] had developed a long way in four decades. Many now recognize that even to do science we characteristically claim rational certainty where we lack supporting proof of our own, have not engaged in some balancing of evidence, and have not even undertaken any articulate inquiry. Many further recognize that rational reliance is notably voluntary[2]and that our feelings, especially refined feelings, have indispensable roles in determining our willing reliances and in sustaining them. Scientists, and ordinary people, judiciously sidestep the Lockean principle that one`s degree of commitment ought not exceed the evidence one has for it, realizing that Locke's idea supposed a social system of knowing that does not exist even science, much less in the rest of life and around the most important beliefs of life.

As mentioned, much of rational certainty, even in most important matters, has a significantly emotional and voluntary base. Neither demonstration nor any proof[3] at all is generally attempted for the most extensive life-structuring convictions: say, that physical objects and the animate world are real, that respectful love of others is an enrichment, that the physical world is largely regular and explicable, and even that God does (or does not) exist, and that life does not (or does) end with the grave.

I will comment on the features of rational reliance, willing commitment and the cognitive functions of feeling, first to indicate that religious commitment is not some deformity of rational belief but,rather, follows a general and uneliminable process for knowing, and, secondly, to indicate that although emphasizing these considerations amounts to urging a revolution in epistemology (as compared to recent paradigms, for instance, Chisholm 1969, Audi,1993, Dretske,1981, Goldman,1986, Lehrer,1986, Nozick,1993 Plantinga, 1993a and b, and Pollock,1975), it also invites some vexing questions , especially about conflicts of rational reliance, to which we need to address and exchange conjectures and hypotheses.

1. Cognition by Reliance. Faith has been rehabilitated. Faith is "willing reliance on others thought to be better placed to know," or "thought well enough placed to know," as well as "willing reliance on the regularities we find in nature and people" to indicate to us what to believe. Faith is a source of knowledge, often more efficient and more reliable than finding out for oneself, as the telephone book makes clear. And where faith falls short of knowledge, it often supplies rational certitude, in fact, the only avenue of rational certitude about what will in fact happen, even about the most expensive and conservatively entered human undertakings like farming, investing, engineering (bridge and theater design), naval architecture (hull design), applied science (nuclear power plants), and sometimes even in our formal logical and mathematical disciplines.[4]

We regularly trust life and the resources for life to cognitive systems [ to institutions, such as air traffic control] whose commitments, from the nature of the task, have to exceed what any empirical or theoretical evidence can sustain. Faith is a foundation for rational certainty; not a rock-bottom one, but an indispensable one. In fact, trust is the very fabric of social conviction and the golden thread of science.

There seems not to be much point in debating any longer whether there can be knowledge by faith,[5] that is, knowledge by way of our willing reliance on others (including social institutions), and on some of the regularities we discern. Parallel processes in any cognitive enterprise would be impossible if reliance could not, in principle, be a means of knowledge, even of scientific certainty. There is room to argue about what sorts of things are best or better known that way.[6] To think that we cannot know, or at least have rational certainty, that PCB's are dangerous in the water supply because we have not established it or even read a "proof," is just foolish. We rely on public and social institutions, especially "the media" that give us information that is really hearsay, to learn about fusion, fission, the benefits of fluoride, the dangers of chlordane, the age of galaxies, whether we need vaccinations or flu shots, and AIDS[7]: fides ex auditu, said St. Paul.

2. Judging Institutions and Practices. Convictions we live by are typically societally reinforced, for instance, by a materialistic culture that construes daily life as a trial of one's true worth in a contest for wealth, power, and fame, or a more spiritual community where the world is the arena of a divine drama (in which every individual human is a character: the martyrs, Apostles, the faithful, the chosen people, etc.), with everyone having a role in history and in the outcome. Many people now think history is someone else's story and that it is like a chain-novel, a mere patchwork of what follows what, without an outcome; not a real story with an author and an end,, and certainly not in any important way one`s own story. Societally reinforced and conveyed conviction, while conveyed by rational reliance on one's family, community and education, may still be quite unreasonable in its outcome--as one of the two world-interpretations has to be. Is there someplace to stand to judge? Hideous falsehoods can be believed and reinforced the same way as truths. Sometimes gross falsities are believed to be the products of science, as were Nazi theories of racial superiority, as was the practice of radical mastectomy in the 1950's and 1960's, and of bloodletting in the 17th century. Sometimes there is no place to stand within the culture but outside the practice; for how do you find out what is medically wise except by medical science and practice? The same is true for religion and law. Where could one stand outside religion to decide whether there is sin, salvation, grace and glory, or outside science to decide whether there are quanta, gravitons, or quarks, or outside musical practice to decide how Chopin is to be interpreted? The notion of such a neutral standpoint involves the idea that one can aim at rational conviction without the very practice (with its internal rationality and self-criticism) that we have developed for arriving at such convictions rationally. It's like asking a craftsman to do his work over, only this time without his tools.

Sweeping convictions are propagated through education about how to understand one's nation's history (e.g as expansion of opportunity or of spreading repression). Such broad self-perceptions are mainly "received" from the collective consciousness of one's time and generation, the way one finds out about what counts as style and success. The animism of Native Americans did not amount to knowledge; nor does the mixed pantheism /animism of roughly fifty percent of living humans. But that says nothing about the rationality of their convictions, or the rationality of the "sociology of knowledge" by which their convictions were generated.

Can we judge institutions by their outputs? For two reasons, no. First, the system may be reliable, and the inputs bad, so that, better supplied, it would yield a better product--as most of us think of improving education. Secondly, the institution may be the only means of access at all, and thus, reasonable to trust for lack of another source, for instance, scientific medicine.{I bypass the controversy over whether there are other medical standpoints that need incorporation into scientific medicine, and also other kinds of medical art that work well for most of the earth's humans.}

An institution in a certain place (say,"family instruction") may hand along truths and mistakes about food, mixed truths and errors about health and how to live, and superstitions about God and "science." Yet the system might do perfectly well to hand along an improved product with improved education. If we could eliminate or greatly reduce error and prejudice in our families and schooling, the willing reliance of children would produce an immense increase of knowledge and practical wisdom. It is not willing reliance that is the source of unreasonable beliefs but the ignorance and vices of those who use the institutions to impart conviction.

As long as the court system was believed to the most reliable means of obtaining justice, there was no point in trying to decide independently whether the particular outcomes of court proceedings were just. But when scandals and corruption threaten our trust, scholars look for some way of measuring the quality of the output independently. Sometimes we can, by identifying a vice (or a virtue) embedded into the system. More often we find that there is no access to the quality of the output independently of the process we wish to judge and that the most competent evaluators are practitioners of the process. That is because there are often no alternative sources. As Augustine pointed out about the Christian faith, and as we would have to point out to Hottentots resisting our teaching them science, "unless you believe, you will not understand." We say, "there is no way to get to see that this process works, or what its defects are, without first becoming an initiate." Haven't you ever said, "Just do what I tell you, then you will understand."? One cannot get into the position of competent evaluation of the most important channels of belief, even of mathematical analysis, without matured talent at that "way," whether it be how to play the piano, construct arguments, live justly and humanely, or live a fulfilled life.

In sum so far, faith has emerged as an irreplaceable means, though limited, of knowledge. True, it goes under the name "reliance" and "rational reliance" and more commonly, "trust" but that is still generally the same thing: commitment brought about through our desire for some good, as will be explained below. Moreover, it is recent news in philosophy that much of knowledge depends on willing belief and that science is impossible without willing commitment (as well as on a community of trust),though Van Fraassen remarked a decade ago that that recognition is a commonplace among scientists.

I will return to the question of evaluation in the face of conflicts of reliance, after introducing another element in rational reliance, namely, the role of feelings.

3. The role of feelings. There is I think an emerging consensus that feelings function cognitively to ground rational certainty.[8] That is a notable change from the long prejudice that feelings and emotions are irrational and at most an impediment to rational thinking because evidence is being replaced by what is not a reason for believing. True, feelings are usually not reasons, though their happening may be; (a serious stomach-ache is reason to call a doctor). Moreover, sometimes when asked "Why do you think that?" we reply in the form " I have a feeling that ...." or "It feels unstable/insignificant/ messy/ ugly, etc., to me." We are aware that unless the refinement of our feelings is acknowledged, a caustic reply may be in order," You autobiography is not part of the argument;" but notice, when dealing with the acknowledged master, we do not respond that way. We implicitly acknowledge that his/her feelings and emotional reactions may ground knowledge both about merit (in art or music) or truth (in a witness or a proposed theory). Further, we know that feelings motivate conviction by altering the very appearance of situations to us. As Sartre said, an emotion is an affective transformation of reality, as the fable of the fox and the grapes makes clear. Against the background of our other beliefs, feelings convert glimmerings into convictions and determine, supplement, and transfigure appearances. A confident, optimistic child will read obvious words that have been left off the page, just as if they were there; a pessimistic child will miss the left-out words, and may skip words he knows perfectly well. Large coins look smaller to rich children than to poor ones and small coins look larger to the poorer children (Bruner).

Further, the satisfaction and stability of deep feeling hardens belief into rock-bottom commitment. So, a hateful person is steadfast in antagonistic beliefs, and an insecure person will expect less good than a confident one. Stubborn opposition to the truth can result from fear at having to deal with it (and even cause self-deception), just as steadfast support for the truth (or for some thing that is false) may result from passionate dedication to a cause. I suppose that sixteenth century missionaries to South America, Japan and China, believed passionately in the command to convert the world, and that many were moved by that conviction all the way into the belief that they should willingly be killed as testimony to their faith. Above the instinctive levels of animal cognition, only refined feeling correlates directly with the quality of conviction. By stabilizing, configuring, and even supplementing the "presentation" of things, feeling does for cognition what glossy advertising does for desire.

Feeling functions cognitively both in our relying on others ( "I feel I can trust her;" " I feel sure he will work hard."), and in our finding out for ourselves ( "Yes, that argument is elegant, satisfying," or "No, that hypothesis is flimsy, tinsely."). The cognitive role of feeling is not restricted to willing reliance, as opposed to our own inquiries; but that is the aspect emphasized here. Feelings, especially refined feelings, (1) disclose the quality of things, and sometimes their real natures, by transforming appearance into meaning; for instance, by making a mark on wet clay or a faint rustle, mean "Danger! (Snake)"; and (2) configure convictions, that is, make the content, by drawing supporting pieces into a pattern, the way we detect a conspiracy, or notice someone really supports us. Without stable feelings there are many things we could not even understand (e.g. why a little boy sulks when his parent says "You're acting like a sissy") and one cannot grasp why others believe what they believe, e.g., that someone is going to attack or otherwise try to harm them; various "extraterrestrial" stories turn on the alien's incomprehension of feelings with a resultant failure of understanding (of knowledge).

4.Cognitive Voluntarism . One outcome of considering that willing reliance has been rehabilitated as a source of knowledge, and that feelings function cognitively, both as detectors of the presence of things and as transformations of the appearance of things, is that we should revolutionize our approach to empirical knowledge and rational belief in general, opposing the "evidentialist," "representationalist," "foundationalist" tendencies that have dominated for the last three centuries, and even faulting Plantinga's (1993a and 1993b) "theory of proper function" for failure to account for the positive role of willing reliance and feeling in the generation of scientific knowledge and in knowledge more generally understood to include religious knowledge. The opposed approach is "cognitive voluntarism," an idea William James used to legitimize commitment in the face of forced, live and momentous options, but that been extensively developed in other respects (though without the emphasis on the cognitive functions of feelings and emotions that I advocate here) by Augustine and Aquinas in their discussions of religious belief. In fact, I think discussion of the will as a factor in knowledge came into disrepute after the Reformation placed such emphasis of the necessity for a will committed to the faith and upon damnation for faithlessness, while ,at the same time, rejecting the idea that religious faith could have a reasoned basis, that enlightenment philosophers reacted oppositely to associate commitments arising from the will with the unreasoned, irrational and unjustified. As is typical in disputes surrounded with high emotion, the options became polarized, and the tradition of explaining knowledge without the slightest tolerance for choosing beliefs (however indirectly) or allowing emotion any positive role became established. Paradoxically passion and high emotion delimited the options and motivated the convictions that made the resulting theory deny any cognitive role to the will and the emotions.

The kernel of the revised position I advocate is this: that, in the absence of compelling obviousness or compelling need, on the whole, we believe because we want to, in order to gain things by so believing, things to which our cognitive-voluntary ability is targeted, aimed: like the survival-then-fulfillment of the person in a basically hospitable environment. Christians have to add that that telos is only instrumental to an enveloping end for humans: life forever with God. So "believing because you want to" is not the pathology of religion and madness. It is the engine of adapted cognition. Marks of mad, irrational belief, are that it is willful and compulsive, out of touch with the conditions of environment and the aims of our cognitive powers. Sanity requires a reasonable match between desire and reality, though it has to be admitted that what counts as reality is crucially a function of belief; thus a Christian has to hold that reality includes important elements that a materialist considers illusory. There is no reliance-neutral standpoint from which to assess willing reliance upon a whole world-interpretation. Nevertheless, one ought not to delay to dispute whether one can choose to believe a particular proposition; that is not the normal, but rather the extraordinary case, though it does happen, as when one takes directions from a stranger, or selects a teacher for some high art, or has to choose whether to believe a physician's opinion that radiation-chemotherapy is superior to surgery for an actual life-threatening cancer. The commitments I am concerned with come in whole families and amount to life and world interpretations.

Believing, not at will, but willingly, is both the form of rational reliance and often the form of induction, pattern discernment, and of abstraction, as well as the form of reliance on others, which involves the additional element of personal trust. By "form" here I mean the "inner mechanism" that explains why one is doing what one is doing: e.g., "because I like it".[More on this in Section 6). Thus religious faith, even strictly divine faith, is not structurally deviant among cognitive habits. It is typical of the cosmic extensions of experience we have to make in a universe too large to explore by oneself: we make cosmic-construals to fit the built-in aim, as at magnetic north, of our knowing powers without having to be aware of those aims. For instance, we believe that scientific inquiry will disclose explanatory features of the physical world not only because of past success but because it is intellectually satisfying to think so. As I said, the cognitive targeting is like magnetic north; it actually causes our abilities to perform to our benefit, absent defeating factors. Again, for Christians, grace transforms the opaque cognitive aim at happiness into the transparent aim at life with God; that refines rational reliance to include things not even attractive to those without grace.

5. Conflicts of Reliance. We have to have convictions that go beyond the data, and yet are not necessarily true, in order to make sense of the experience we have: so we rely on reports (usually at second or third hand) about the origin of the earth, inertia, and relativity, and that there were homo sapiens from 35,000 to, perhaps, 90,000 years ago. Of course, some Christians reject all that "science" whether at first or second hand because they take it to conflict with Scripture, relying on their believing community to authenticate that. What do we do about the conflict?

Some of us rely on reports from "science" that the cosmos is about 17.5 billion light years in "diameter" or "old" with a single development of heavy elements from hydrogen in supernovae, and so forth. Some believe the "gaia" hypothesis, a permutation on Plato's world-soul, that the earth is a single living thing where the lives of its living parts depend on the health and life of the whole, just as cell-life normally, depends on our whole bodily life and cannot long outlive it. That kind of belief is more a matter of interpretation guided by deep feeling than it is ordinary science and stands in stark contrast to the reductive materialist conviction that life is nothing more than a series of reducible physical processes. The conflict is again one of reliances, especially in the materialist's case, reliances based on promises and hope for later explanation. How adjudicate the dispute? Yet, which option you decide on makes an enormous qualitative difference in your life.

Similarly, many believe history is targeted on the return of Jesus, on a unification of consciousness (Teillard de Chardin) and a post-historical community of saints, while their opponents think history is no story at all. Do we look for some neutral standpoint by which to use thinking to decide among the disputants, or do we magnanimously regard both viewpoints as products of rational reliance (one of which has to be wrong),but each of which is reasonable to hold, or do we dismiss our opponent as having somehow misused the process to hold an unreasonable belief unreasonably?

Almost all educated people think physical reality is mathematically intelligible, despite conflicts in recent physics.They also believe that the physical future of nature will, on the whole, be like the past and that the laws of the universe are the same everywhere, regardless of the fact that most of the universe is too far away or too small for us to confirm such beliefs by observation; rather, we use such beliefs to give meaning to what we observe. How firmly we hold one or another of such usually implicit convictions depends on what explanatory power we accord it and how deeply we need it; what the "payoff" is, even the satisfaction in loving the world understood that way, as opposed to doing without it. Yet we cannot appeal to the stability of such conviction by itself as a mark of reasonableness, because the beliefs of millenialists and those who think apricot pits cure cancer or that all formal religion is evil are also stable, but strike many of us as unreasonable.

What about saying that such beliefs are, in principle, not immune to refutation by experience, but that those of millenialists and apricot-curers are, and that that marks the difference between the rational and irrational reliances? Christians cannot take that route, whether fundamentalists or not, being committed to saying that the revealed truth cannot be refuted by experience. The process by which belief is acquired, in this case willing reliance, cannot by itself assure the reasonableness of the beliefs we acquire; other constraints are required; but the process cannot be declared irrational just because, when other constrains are not obeyed, the products are bizarre.

For most of our century, scientific knowledge had been considered superior to religious conviction just because scientific belief was said by philosophers to be kept proportionate to the evidence, whereas, as Fitzjames Stevens said (1894:344) with religious belief "the bulk and weight of the evidence" was "increased by heating it with love". That proportion of conviction to evidence, "evidentialism" as Locke first stated it, triggered a long "ethics of belief" debate,(McCarthy,ed.) and laid down principles taken as "obvious" and "not worth arguing about," even though they were largely mythical, until they conflicted with a new story about science.

The new story about the underdetermination of hypotheses by data (Duhem-Quine), the inscrutability of reference (Quine, Putnam), that "entrenchment" of predicates is the basis of induction (Goodman,1955), and the "many versions, many worlds" of Goodman (1978), said unequivocally that scientific commitment goes beyond the evidence, and has to. [Of course, every ordinary true predication, e.g., "My sweater is torn," does too, and in the same way, as Duns Scotus observed much earlier, c. 1300.] In fact, Goodman (1968) made it basic that visual, and all other sensory perception, "goes beyond the data," as did Jerome Brunner (1973). Given that perception is constructive (supplementing, modifying, ignoring and rearranging the sensory "data"), our reliance upon it cannot be explained by judgment in accord with the weight of the evidence for it because to a considerable extent we are manufacturing the data as well as going beyond it. One outcome was a metaphysical doctrine: "the world is the product of art and discourse,"(Goodman,1968), that we make the experienced world. But to many that seems inherently implausible and unrepresentative of the astonishing advance of science. Again we meet a conflict of fundamental interpretative commitments: irrealism against realism. It seems obvious that their devotees are committed for the explanatory, intellectual, good they expect and thus, that we have another basic conflict of rational reliances (here reliances shade into expectations).

We can conclude, so far, that there are many sorts of conflicts of commitment resulting from conflicting reliances and that such a variety of conflicts will not be resolved according to a single procedure, if, indeed, there is any procedure for resolving them at all (except, of course, the simple process of outliving the opposition). Nevertheless, the understanding that science is much more a matter of interpretation, construal, supplementation and construction than had been previously acknowledged, once it firmly took hold, and the awareness that it is also a very elaborate system of trust in persons unknown to one, has diminished the distance between science and religion. There is not the basis for invidious comparison as if science were healthy thinking and religion deformed thinking; they are both healthy and more alike than previous propaganda conveyed.

Still, as Putnam said, the success of science is not a miracle. There must be an explanation of it. How can we succeed by going beyond the data? There are two main options: (a) that science is a self-refining activity we take on trust, revising it by its outcomes (predictions, unifications, applications, etc.), the way we learn to steer a boat or play a violin. That position "goes circular" about the "data" for revising our science, for it is only reliance on the method that will tell us what data demands revision of a theory. Or (b) we make it up, making reality along with our versions of it, like stage designers perfecting their craft where the object is believability, convincing substantiality. That's the new pragmatism, trying to get such a tight fit between prediction and outcomes that there is no room for a relevant competitor to what OUR theory "refers" to [internal realism]. Of course there are endless variants on a third classical option: that by our ability to abstract the structures of things, the real natures, even from very small samples sometimes, we can make statements that hold for everything of the same kind, and thus hold not in virtue of numbers of cases but in virtue of the reality repeated in things of the same kinds.[9] In a word, despite all its artifacts and instrumentalities, the success of science consists in our expanding a stable comprehension of physical reality. That's the one I prefer. But one can see that there is no neutral standpoint from which to adjudicate the dispute,either.

The new story about science's being both a system and a community of reliances dynamited any notion of using rigid "evidentialism" or "foundationalism" to explain its success. Philosophers noticed that faith, trust, and reliance on others better placed to know, is integral to science as a communication system, and a source of conviction in the discovery process itself.[10] As a result, if religious believing is cognitively deficient, it cannot be because (as was previously alleged) it involves willing reliances that cause beliefs or because it involves a community of trust in persons, for that would indict science too. For example, we rely upon the laws of nature to be the same everywhere, regardless of the position or motion of the observer, an article of Einsteinian faith, whose confirmation depends on our accepting it first(Cf. Passmore,111-114). That's like the religious situations where you have to believe in order to understand.

Discussion has not matured enough yet for there to be a new attack on the rationality of religious belief, but we can already predict disaster for attacks that suppose there has to be a neutral position for the resolution of basic conflicts of commitment,or hold that beliefs not revisable on experience alone are all unreasonable because that would implicate both science and philosophy of science as well. Undoubtedly there will be a new attack, one that will cause us to notice more about how our convictions are rationally obtained and maintained.

Of course there will always be degenerate "faith" that is "unjustified belief," "belief that contravenes the evidence," or "belief held against the demands of reason," because there will always be people who commit themselves rashly, recklessly, credulously and foolishly. The problem is how to identify and characterize such commitments without a general procedure for resolving basic conflicts. Nevertheless, we can all see now that there has to be willing reliance resulting in commitment or we cannot explain the body of knowledge we do have.

When the arch of evidentialism collapsed, a key element of foundationalism (also known as "rationalism") lost its function. The foundation of our knowing is not the impossibility of our being in error in our starting points, or even in our beginning with items "than which nothing is more reasonably to be believed" and our extending that reliability by a skeleton of equally reliable principles of "indirect evidence" (Chisholm,1969). We don't have to begin with incorrigibility, impossibility of error or even "proper basicality" at all. We can begin with the products of natural faith, rational reliance.

6. How Does Reliance Work? We trust because we want something (Ross,1984,1986). Reliance is, itself, a mode of satisfaction, and a means to goods. That's the basic psychological mechanism for "taking someone's word for it" as well as for "relying on what they do." A hunter relies on the flight pattern of turkeys because he wants to shoot some. We trust even an unprepossessing stranger for directions, going long distances on slight word, if there is no one else to ask. Need overrides caution. We distrust strange meat, strange shapes, and strange tastes, but hunger can countermand disgust. We can, even against resistance, trust people we don't like when we want something badly: medical care, banking, home repairs. All reliances are aimed at apparent or expected, even if not conscious, goods.

Augustine says, "nemo credit nisi volens" ("no one believes unless he wants to"); not that you can believe at will or even disbelieve at will in arbitrarily chosen cases,, although the unconscious is awesome at rejection and accommodation, regardless of the evidence. Nevertheless, the will is the engine of believing, not the understanding (except in the few cases of the "manifest vision of truth," of compelling obviousness). And even the compelling obviousness of one's mortal wounds can be willed away, say, as a medic urges one to live, sometimes with success. The rest of the time, evidence does not compel belief, nor does extreme want; the will supplies the commitment to get some good.

Aquinas says it is reasonable to believe someone for the good to be gained from doing so. That was Augustine's view too. In fact, Augustine says that the unbeliever is suffering from a sickness only God can cure, in the position of the patient who must trust the doctor or die. (How else could such savage medicine have been practiced on England's Charles II in 1685 (Gordon,1976)? In particular, Aquinas says it is reasonable to believe Jesus for the sake of attaining eternal life: " Thus we are moved to believe what God says because we are promised eternal life as a reward if we believe. And this reward moves the will to assent to what is said, although the intellect is not moved by anything which it understands." (De Veritate, 14.1.)

The idea that we commit ourselves for various gains might seem to be a travesty of our psychology, until we notice the effect of family, society, culture, and even history, on individual belief and the way we fit the meaning of things, not only to our expectations, but to our desires and nightmares. We are not duped or coerced for the most part. We believe unresistingly because we are in the habit of willing reliance. We get satisfaction out of our conviction, and are pleased, even smug, in our certainty. That is how human psychology "works"; that central beliefs result from evidential accumulation was an empiricist myth based on a misconception of science and a fear of continued prejudice and superstition, that J.H. Newman (1870) made a classic effort to dispel.

Seventeenth century science idealized finding out for oneself, Descartes's antidote for groundless and false received opinion. The success of science wore out the ideal by making parallel processing part of the very energy of discovery and proof, and trust among researchers indispensable. (See James Watson for the combination of duplicity and dependence involved in scientific convergence.) In my opinion, evidentialism died, and foundationalism along with it--though plenty of philosophers still promenade those corpses in the wheelchairs of argument. And faith, rehabilitated as a means of knowledge, coordinate with one's own inquiry, now stands as a source, not only of rational certainty, but even of scientific knowledge.

7. Cognitive Functions of Feeling. Why do we have to train feeling as well as understanding.[11] Why sensitize young people with pets, poets, painting, architecture, theater, novels, decoration, decorum, dance, argumentation, law, wilderness and zoos? And why teach them the critical appraisal of some or all? Many suppose it is for the young to "appreciate" and perhaps "enjoy" such things, and in a few cases be able to tell good from bad. There's more to it.

A "person of refinement", even as that notion was understood in the eighteenth century and after, is a "person of taste", a person who habitually tells the good from the bad, the excellent from the rest and finds enjoyment in the best. A person of refinement enjoys the excellent by second nature, by the quality of his\her feelings, and is able to transfer such judgment broadly among human activities. Refinement is the ability to detect quality virtually anywhere by one's feelings, whether or not one is able to produce it, explain it or teach it[12].

Some refinement of understanding, (literature, languages and philosophy) and of feeling (art, history and music) is more general and more easily transferred than others (formal logic, accounting, engineering). But the object of all is the same: the integration of feeling and understanding into effortless excellence of judgment, performance, and expression, that is enjoyment. That holds whether we are talking of an olympic diver who does not need to word-out his actions, but plans them by imaginary prevision with feeling, and, so, only has to notice the feeling to achieve the previsioned actions, or of the writer who has to smash words around to make edges that will express his thoughts.

Refinement of feeling employed cognitively is learned chiefly by apprenticeship because it requires mimesis. It requires that fully invested "doing the same" with which an infant son walks like his father and with which all children learn their parent's language, and with which disciples reach mastery.

Beyond detecting features of things, and being an elaborate analogue computer (the way a diver's feeling monitors and modifies a performance too elaborate and too rapid to think about), feelings configure disclosures ("I could see he was lying" ; " He infuriated me; I suddenly saw he did not care at all.") Beyond that, feelings transfigure events, creating meaning, making as great a change as meaning does from mere marks to "If the eye were an animal, sight would be its soul". For example, one's understanding the plot movement in Othello requires understanding obsessive love, and jealousy, as well as crafty malice: it is the feeling that transfigures the events into tragedy. In addition, feelings configure considerations into convictions. They make existential commitments out of what, otherwise, are mere notions: "Someone maybe following me"; "God exists"; "The physical world is not all of reality"; "I love music". They make beliefs "descend" from the head to the heart. Saying something without feeling anything is pretty often saying without believing it. We arrive at the most important and the most general, basic and stable convictions by which we live and die through considerations, not convincing in themselves, configured by feeling into a presentation of reality that commits us.

Could a person ever figure out answers with convincing justifications for the basic disputes-- about the foundations of morality, the role of heterosexual love, the place of family, of children, of religion, of loyalty and love in one's life, of the extent of individual liberty,wealth, respect for law, of deliberate opposition to the law, and of rebellion against love, of how much personal power and physical force to seek at what cost, the extent to indulge various desires and hatreds, how to use and control and balance lust, cruelty, pride, punishment, revenge, forgiveness, neighborliness, speculation, science and wonder, poetry and health, inquiry, work and play, making and using, and enjoying, and the time to be allocated to each,-- fast enough and well enough to live rationally and with a satisfying balance of contentment and excitement? And yet nearly every one of those commitments, once habitual, is usually final, life-determining, and more important than money.

Could a person ever figure out enough about all those and more to make his/her conclusions the framework of a lifetime? That was the implicit assumption of philosophers for centuries, even though their own lives refuted the assumption because they in fact figured out so little. You have to live by reliance, not by what you figured out, just to make scope enough for speculative thought. You have to live basically by refined feeling. No wonder there is no real luck for the ill-reared unless grace intervenes. Practical wisdom, to paraphrase St. Augustine, is understanding the basis of reality well enough to know how to live well and what for, and having the means and resolution to do it. It is the product of refined feeling functioning cognitively, not of speculative reason alone (for which feeling functions too, but speculation even at its best is entangled in a web of disputes). Feeling, sometimes passion, punctuates speculation with commitment.

One epistemological outcome of all this is that rationalist conceptions of knowing have permanently worn out. Those conceptions, found in Plato, in the ideal of Aristotelian demonstrative science, in Augustine and Descartes, come to this key point: "S knows that P if and only if P is true, and it is not possible that S believe P on the grounds or in the conditions in which S does, when P is false". As long as that demand, that there be no possibility of error in the process, dominated, there was no room for talking of knowledge arising from mere reliance and not much point in talking about the cognitive functions of feeling.

Now we know better; we know there is very little knowledge that satisfies the rationalist condition and that such knowledge is not of any great importance to us either. Most ordinary knowledge is of a kind where, though we might in indistinguishable circumstances have believed the same thing when it was false (except in our own existence, etc.), because our believing is reasonably grounded (evidentially or by reliance) and is true and is casually the consequence of the grounding, it is knowing (absent defeating conditions). The grounding can, of course be trust or rational reliance, and they do not have to be grounded in further evidence, but, as is the case with natural faith, can simply be a natural endowment or the product of one. I cannot forbear pointing out that if that is what ordinary empirical knowing is, then the only thing that could prevent ordinary religious believers from actually knowing that God exists, after they have given it the sort of thought I mentioned above and become convinced, is that the belief is false. In a word, they know God exists, if God does exist. And that meets the most stringent test their opponents can meet on any major conviction.

We acknowledge an indefinite list of "defeating" conditions, conditions whose presence or absence will defeat what is otherwise sufficient for knowing. So, if it turns out I was tricked into belief, even when it would otherwise be all right, or that there was an accidental correlation of truth and my believing without orderly causation, or there was a betrayal by a trustworthy person who accidentally told the truth when intending to lie, or a loss of fidelity in a transmitter( a machine copies numbers wrongly), then what would otherwise have been knowledge is defeated, even if the belief is true. Yet even a mistake may still be reasonably believed provided the process of willing reliance is reasonable in the particular case.

Ordinary cognition is the kind of knowledge we use to decide matters of paramount import, requiring the care of a noticing person disposing of his most important interests; the knowledge that the stove did not relight after we shut it off, that a building is reasonably safe, that a dog is not going to chew the electric wires, that poisons are not present in food or air, that a baby is positioned to breathe freely, that a document was signed by the person whose name is on it, that one actually has the money to pay certain obligations.

The prudent person settling his most important business with a high degree of risk aversion and a loathing of uncertainty, except over small things, wants little of argument and more of satisfaction with his expectations. We do not want to be in a position , at the closing on a house, of someone's having to argue that there are no outstanding liens, we want a compelling report (for a title report is just that-- a report, not directly evidence). The difference between the dupe and the smart shopper is in how much desire distorts reality, not in how firmly conviction is triggered by desire.

When the outcome of our consideration is supposed to be stable and coherent as a basis for our life, we rest more on feeling and filaments of facts pulled into patterns by desire, than on thinking things out in articulated chains of reasoning, as we would if we were solving a crime or defending someone. It is amazing how many things we "bet our life" on, with only habitual reliance ( on cars, planes, official directives, traffic signs, etc.) and no further thought because we know we cannot get into a position of finding out for ourselves. Yet, how much we hesitate over a small change of conduct to gain eternal life, or even to avoid cancer. We are creatures of habit, both limited and aided thereby. Of course there are situations and roles in which people are held to a higher standard for certainty: a pilot has a responsibility to circle the outside of the plane looking for anomalies before entering to fly it; a ship owner is positively responsible to meet certain safety standards for passengers or environment. But those do not concern us here, though such cases are sometimes mistakenly taken to be the paradigms of what knowing required in the way of error avoidance (See Clifford,1877, reprinted in McCarthy,19-36), when they are in fact arrangements socially or legally for the distribution of financial and moral responsibility for outcomes.

Practical wisdom, the ability to live wisely and well as specified above, is the product of good training and example, internalized by mimesis of refined understanding and feeling, even passion. Yes, passion. A life without passion is anemic and feeble. Passion, as intense feeling, has to be made part of refinement; then, made to reveal and to found conviction; not just sexual passion (which has its place), but love of understanding, even envy, anger, fear, hope, eagerness, energy, excitement, exaltation, joy, sadness, sorrow, and despair.( Despair over injustice has motivated heroic acts of peaceful resistance.) The violent feelings have to have a place in refined cognition,too. So, too, philosophy without feeling is lifeless, like bicycling with training wheels.

Even in philosophy, practical wisdom counts. Platonists about logic and numbers who are physicalists otherwise offer an option that lacks the "feel" or texture of quality. We are left unconvinced, not on the basis of any particular argument, but by the detectable ugliness and inutility of the option. Many philosophers regard wholesale skepticism and wholesale relativism with distaste ( that they consider to be educated). Even in intellectual matters there is a dispositive appraisal (at least for a time) in which our training and acquired reactions count more than any argument. Einstein dismissed quantum indeterminacy with "God does not pay dice with the universe". We arrive at conviction, for instance, that "eternal recurrence" is not a serious option because it explains nothing and lacks "texture". We do not construct a disproof; we disregard it. The fact that we can do that hastily and unwisely does not impugn the fact that we can do it wisely too.

Two kinds of satisfaction suffuse something we willingly believe: we believe because we want to (to get something or other) and we like being sure of it. That's how non-scientists know that there are micro-particles, bacteria, viruses, electrons, molecules, and atoms. We rely upon media reports (third-hand sayings) that an appropriate community (scientists, doctors,etc.) has converged on the result, and we get the satisfaction of becoming familiar with explanations involving those ideas, even when ours is very "thin" knowledge indeed. Thus I can know that viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics, without having a clear idea as to what a virus is. Most of us would say we know the heart pumps blood, that oxygen is brought to the brain by blood cells, and that embryo cells, otherwise the same, somehow communicate to one another to differentiate into diverse organ cells, say, liver, heart and kidney cells. But we don't know where we heard it; maybe at school. Such convictions come from our natural trust, channelled through endorsing institutions, assisted by our feelings of curiosity and satisfaction. That's one of the reasons we try to reinforce and sharpen children's curiosity and their delight in knowing things: it energizes their willingness to know, even to find out for themselves (which, oddly enough, nowadays includes looking it up in a book and relying upon what they read.).

8.Feelings as Convictors. Feelings often accumulate around convictions and cause other convictions and even behavior. Call convictions suffused with feeling capacitors, convictors. Firm faith that Jesus is the redeemed suffused with reverence, awe and devotion is the kind of operative belief that typically causes other beliefs. Such operative beliefs convert data into conviction (both as to content and as to assent), for instance, causing a construal of one's personal history. Operative beliefs need not be conscious objects of belief (though they often are). The can be unnoticed and still accumulate data and feeling until a cognitive threshold is reached and a conviction is discharged, arranging belief into a new pattern ( say, accepting the view that there is a personal redeemer, or deciding that a secular society is destroying the spirituality of children). Our operative beliefs, say, our basic self-appraisal and our expectations and our appraisal of what "counts" in life, are typically very stable, sometimes unchangeable and certainly not dislodged by "evidence". Rather they determine what counts for us as evidence. Operative beliefs can be dislodged by emotional experiences, however. They can hemorrhage and simply bleed away when love is disappointed, expectations numbed, or one becomes crippled, unjustly imprisoned or the victim of malice. In brief convictors are maintained by feeling; when the feeling bleeds away, the convictor dies; so a person who loses religious faith loses a whole family of interpretative and evaluative beliefs along with it.

Neuroses are cognitively deviant convictors, usually not accessible to awareness; they generate physical movement, desires, feelings and belief, but in a framework where feeling is not a well-founded because the feeling is caused by factors unconnected to the matters we become sure of, and is commonly attached to false beliefs as well. We identify neuroses from the compulsion toward disorderly behavior, like compulsive handwashing, sobbing without a cause, hollow laughter, pointless lying. By analogy there are disorders of the understanding, marked by the compulsive repetition of the same ineffectual reasoning that others followed to no gain (say, about mind-body or skepticism, or justification) that operate in philosophy and science the way neuroses do in personal interactions. [I conjecture that Wittgenstein (later) thought several philosophical problems, e.g., skepticism, mind-body, and disputes about justification, persisted by involving disorders of the understanding.]

The kinds of convictors seem as varied as people and their experiences. They are modulated by attitudes to risk, to avoidance of cognitive dissonance, to love of symmetry, to fear of punishment, desire to be right, love of saying "I told you so", love of being praised, satisfaction in enjoying or repelling intimacy. I notice how forcefully the concern to invest with maximum return prompts to one rely upon (believe and even treat as exemplars) success stories about "ordinary"people in Money magazine. It is a short step from envy that they made x% on their money to the conviction, "I will do just as well". The often published reminder that past performance is no assurance of future gains, does little to deter individual conviction.

9. Corporate Convictions. Religion is not the main case in which individual convictions are molded by group convictions and reliances. Cognition is more a corporate, collective state than we might have noticed. Almost all the general beliefs we have, and most of the general knowledge we apply to our lives is acquired by reliance upon "what everyone thinks or knows". Convictors are socially acquired and widely shared. We are taught to believe doctors, dentists, and various specialists. That's why they use white-coated actors in toothpaste advertisements. Fashions in clothes, cars, housing, furniture, travel (and every where else, including intellectual ones) involve the individual's willing identification with a group , including the adoption of conforming beliefs, to provide the satisfaction and self-esteem and, perhaps, open admiration available. There are patterns of individual awareness and desires, with resulting beliefs, that are generational, national, and even cultural. Convictors transmit, or defeat, moral virtue, intellectual virtue and even mental and public health. For instance, certain things come, through persuasion and pressure to be thought individual failings with social consequences (for example, littering , cigarette smoking, drunken driving, and public inebriation) and are deterred by social disapproval. Individual values and beliefs can be created by manipulating belief-desire models presented in advertising, in television dramas and series, and through the editorial preferences of newspapers, news broadcasts, and magazine articles. Thus we get health-consciousness, body-awareness, a fad for driving pick-up trucks and four-wheel drive vehicles, and never-ending association of various products and activities with sexual desirability, wealth, status and self-confidence--all with accompanying beliefs and evaluations.

10. Conclusion. The idea that our cognitive powers are aimed at our own flourishing (and perhaps beyond, at life with God), and that we habitually commit ourselves beyond the evidence to achieve our well-being and to secure various kinds of satisfactions, needs to be made the prominent "cognitive voluntarist" element in theory of knowledge, along with a proper inquiry into the many ways in which feelings, emotions and passions function to produce rational belief (as well as to inhibit it). We have to recognize that humans believe, for the most part, not because they are compelled by the evidence or the obviousness of the situation, but because they are willingly relying upon an ability (like sight), or a source ( either reports or some community's collective commitment, or personal exemplars like parents and peers), trying to gain some objective toward which the commitment seems to be a means (as when the golfer believes the pro). Religious believing is part and parcel of our general cognitive practices and no less rational, as a reasonable reliance, than my believing the weather reports. Willing reliance aimed at attaining some good (why else do we bother to believe a map?) is a natural extension of the cognitive behavior of higher mammals, biased in action and perception by want and imagination (modified by instinct) and aimed at well-being. For humans action is additionally usually reflectively accessible, and reflectively is recognized to be aimed at our "being well-off", our flourishing (which differs in content according to one's education and one's aspirations).

But once we acknowledge rational reliance and feelings, emotions and passions as modifiers of beliefs, we encounter conflicts of commitment that arise inevitably within our cognitive practices, whether the subject is religion, basic physics,politics, metaphysics, social policy, legal theory or medicine. Two things are at once obvious: we cannot retreat to a practice-neutral standpoint to settle conflicts of basic commitment by further reasoning that will go undisputed by the conflicting parties; and, secondly, we cannot blame the process of willing reliance or even the immense and varied forces that feelings exert on our taking up, abandoning or modifying our convictions. There are no substitutes for such ways of gaining and maintaining the most general, life-forming convictions that we have. Nor does the fact that many key convictions are impervious to refutation (though they can and do drain away if the supporting feelings and desires are destroyed) make them unreasonable. Nor, of course, can the mere fact that a belief is false make it unreasonable for us to hold it.

In some deep conflicts within a practice (say, between Christian fundamentalists and more "scientific" believers) some of us want to say one side is unreasonable as well as wrong, and in other cases we want to say both sides are reasonable, even if both are wrong, and yet we have no principled way of identifying which sorts of conflict merit which sorts of appraisal. I think that is because our thinking about the volitional and emotional aspects of knowing has not matured enough for us to be at home among all the relevant considerations; we have been too much captives of epistemologies that provided no room for such thinking, and we have not exchanged enough hypotheses and conjectures about how to evaluate or even classify various sorts of conflicts of conviction that arise from willing reliances.

We can tell already that the fault is not in the process of reliance itself; it is not in the truth or falsity of the resulting convictions; nor is it in the stability or imperviousness of such convictions to refutation or in the fact that feelings , including desires, trigger and maintain convictions, either. It can be in how much desire distorts reality; but we do not yet have a confident grasp of the other factors that can lead to an irresolvable conflict,pr even of how to classify or catalogue them. We need more discussion. Nevertheless, we can generally conclude that willing reliance, motivated, even sometimes caused by feeling and desire aimed at various benefits, is an essential element in our knowing generally and in science, and particularly in our religious knowledge of things unseen.



[1]. Rational certainty is a genuine conviction that is attained reasonably, whether or not it is true and whether it is obtained from reliance or direct inquiry.

[2]. There has been considerable discussion of the role of the will in belief. Besides the classic loci in Augustine Aquinas, James, and John Henry Newman, see Adler, Clarke, Coady, Cohen, Davis, Fricker, Govier, Hardwig, Holyer, Kauber and Hare, Knaster, McCarthy (ed), Mignotti, Naylor, O'Hear, Palmer, Plantinga (1993 a and b), Pojman, Stevenson, Webb, Winters and especially Van Fraassen.

[3]. I don't mean inductive and deductive proof only, as illustrated in R. Swinburne, John Mackie, and Richard Gale's books, but, also (i) proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but short of demonstration, or (ii) proof by clear and convincing evidence and (iii) proof by a preponderance of the evidence -- (notions adapted from the law), that are more effective for changing minds. We do not typically even seek the latter sorts of support.

[4]. What most philosophers know about logic and mathematics is taken on faith from teachers and texts. Even our notions of validity and formal reliability are packages of faith.Who can show that Dummett is right to say that validity is not a matter of choice, when mathematicians are divided over whether "indirect proof" is a permissible form of reasoning? Most philosophers do not know that the notion of "logical consequence" is responsibly disputed, and that "relevance logics" and "deviant logics" are rapidly developing; see John Passmore 1985, annotated bibliographic notes 5, 6 and 7 on pages 126-7.

[5]. I have argued several points about knowledge by faith: (a) (1975) that faith leads to knowledge follows even from austere notions of knowing like Chisholm's (1969); (b) (1984 and 1988) that a correct interpretation of Aquinas requires that there be cognition (knowledge, short of scientific demonstration) by both natural and divine faith; ( 1969,1982 and 1984) that the problem of "faith and reason" has to be analyzed with both faith and reason regarded as sources of knowledge without confusing "cognition" in general with "scientia", the output of Aristotelian demonstrative science; and (d) (1986) that faith is a proper and indispensable basis for knowledge in the most important matters, especially when one is motivated by what is to be gained from the believing (say, immortal life, as Aquinas,explained in De Veritate 14, 1) and that this is the view of both St. Augustine and St. Thomas; and (e) (1980, and 1993b) that there really are things that we can never come to understand without first beginning by believing and that believing first in order to understand later, applies to every acquired human excellence, since imitation leading to mastery depends upon trust that eventually leads to enlightenment.

[6].The proper ambit of faith is not a patch of the cognitively deformed, but a realm not our unconditioned responsibility for finding out, for which faithful, reliable, perhaps knowledgeable spokespersons can be found, or a realm in which reliance provides the only access to understanding.

As early as 1839, John Henry Newman and then again 32 years later (1871), pointed out that faith in testimony, and in the "reports of others" is only called irrational "when religion is concerned." (PS. i. 195). He particularly mentions the conviction that Great Britain is an island, which most people count as unchallengably known. See GA. 294-6.

[7].For example, a person can know that AIDS is a dangerous disease, even a virus, without ever having inquired into what a virus is, or whether viruses are living things. Is the AIDS virus a single molecule with less than 10,000 atoms? Is it a protein? Is it like a peptide? For such knowledge there is no "thick foundation", and there never was any direct inquiry or competence to, among 99% of the 240 million American citizens.

[8]. Besides the classic by Sartre (1948) there are been some good books (DeSousa,1979, and A. Rorty,1980, Solomon,1990) and a number of articles on the emotions; for instance, Audi (1977), DeSousa (19779) Gordon, Kelly, Nash, Rich, Solomon (1977 and 1984), Tietz and Walter. Observations on the emotions have not in my opinion been integrated into the mainstream of epistemology, not even to the limited extent that trust in persons and rational reliance on institutions and regularities have been.

I introduce the matter here just far enough to indicate how it is connected to rational reliance and then in greater detail, Section 7, I try to distinguish several distinct cognitive roles that feelings perform, with emphasis on the role of refined feeling in deep understanding.

[9]. There are many kinds of kinds; I am referring only to the simplest natural kind, infima species, here, leaving refinements for other occasions.

[10]. See the heated assertions that lying, plagiarism, and faking results in science is a betrayal of the fabric of science. If evidentialism were right, no one could justifiably rely upon anyone else, and so everyone could lie, because every scientist would have to do everything over. That illustrates how silly and unconnected to the actual practice of science, philosophical accounts of rationality can become.

[11]. The way in which emotion and willing interact in willing belief has not, however, been worked out enough to offer a full-scale epistemological alternative to reliabalism (Alston, Dretske and Goldman) or foundationalism (Chisholm), coherentism, or the theories of Lehrer, Audi, Pollock, and the very recent "theory of proper function" (Plantinga, 1993a and 1993b).

[12]. The notion of "refinement" had popular corruptions in conformist, prissy, mannered dandies and worldlings, in foppish dilettantes, and learned triflers. Breeding in horses, dogs and roses can be overdone, as well as "cultivation" of people, not just to being silly or outright mad, but to being perverse and evil. So we can "refine" feeling to cultivate the thrill of evil, self-regarding wilfulness, a craze of cruelty, the exaltation of fury, and the cold self-containment of disdain, contempt and contumely. But corruption by training and bad example also shows the hope or education.