Basic belief

Basic beliefs (also commonly called foundational beliefs or core beliefs) are, under the epistemological view called foundationalism, the axioms of a belief system.

Categories of beliefs

Foundationalism holds that all beliefs must be justified in order to be believed. Beliefs therefore fall into two categories:

  • Beliefs that are properly basic, in that they do not depend upon justification of other beliefs, but on something outside the realm of belief (a "non-doxastic justification")
  • Beliefs that derive from one or more basic beliefs, and therefore depend on the basic beliefs for their validity


Within this basic framework of foundationalism exist a number of views regarding which types of beliefs qualify as properly basic; that is, what sorts of beliefs can be justifiably held without the justification of other beliefs.

In classical foundationalism, beliefs are held to be properly basic if they are either self-evident axioms, or evident to the senses (empiricism).[1] However Anthony Kenny and others have argued that this is a self-refuting idea.[2]

  • In modern foundationalism, beliefs are held to be properly basic if they were either self-evident axiom or incorrigible.[3] One such axiom is René Descartes's axiom, Cogito ergo sum ("I think, therefore I am"). Incorrigible (lit. uncorrectable) beliefs are those one can believe without possibly being proven wrong. Notably, the evidence of the senses is not seen as properly basic because, Descartes argued, all our sensory experience could be an illusion.
  • In what Keith Lehrer has called "fallible foundationalism",[4] also known as "moderate foundationalism", the division between inferential and non-inferential belief is retained, but the requirement of incorrigibility is dropped. This, it is claimed, allows the senses to resume their traditional role as the basis of non-inferential belief despite their fallibility.[5]
  • In reformed epistemology, beliefs are held to be properly basic if they are reasonable and consistent with a sensible world view.

Anti-foundationalism rejects foundationalism and denies there is some fundamental belief or principle which is the basic ground or foundation of inquiry and knowledge.[6]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Alvin Plantinga, Faith and Rationality, (London Notre Dame, 1983) pp. 39-44. Here Plantinga is basing his analysis on the ideas of Aristotle and Aquinas.
  2. ^ Anthony Kenny, What is Faith? Oxford: OUP 1992 ISBN 0-19-283067-8 pp. 9-10. This particular chapter is based on a 1982 lecture, which may explain the shift in the meaning of the term "foundationalism" since then.
  3. ^ Alvin Plantinga, Faith and Rationality, (London Notre Dame, 1983) pp. 58-59. Here Plantinga references John Locke and René Descartes.
  4. ^ Keith Lehrer, Theory of Knowledge (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1990). See also "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-08. Retrieved 2007-03-31.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "It makes sense for people to believe what they perceive through their experience and therefore, individuals are justified in those beliefs. "Truth Awakens on Foundationalism Archived February 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ J. Childers/G. Hentzi, The Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism (1995) p. 100
Alvin Plantinga

Alvin Carl Plantinga (born 1932) is an American analytic philosopher who works primarily in the fields of philosophy of religion, epistemology (particularly on issues involving epistemic justification), and logic.

From 1963 to 1982, Plantinga taught at Calvin College before accepting an appointment as the John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He later returned to Calvin College to become the inaugural holder of the Jellema Chair in Philosophy.A prominent Christian philosopher, Plantinga served as president of the Society of Christian Philosophers from 1983 to 1986. He has delivered the Gifford Lectures two times and was described by Time magazine as "America's leading orthodox Protestant philosopher of God". William Lane Craig wrote in his work Reasonable Faith that he considers Plantinga to be the greatest Christian philosopher alive. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was awarded the Templeton Prize in 2017.Some of Plantinga's most influential works including God and Other Minds (1967), The Nature of Necessity (1974), and a trilogy of books on epistemology, culminating in Warranted Christian Belief (2000) that was simplified in Knowledge and Christian Belief (2016).

Anthony Johnson (colonist)

Anthony Johnson (b. c. 1600 – d. 1670) was a black Angolan known for achieving freedom and wealth in the early 17th-century Colony of Virginia. He was one of the first Negro property owners and had his right to legally own a slave recognized by the Virginia courts. Held as an indentured servant in 1621, he earned his freedom after several years, and was granted land by the colony.He later became a successful tobacco farmer in Maryland. He attained great wealth after completing his term as an indentured servant, and has been referred to as "'the black patriarch' of the first community of Negro property owners in America".

Argument from a proper basis

The argument from a proper basis is an ontological argument for the existence of God related to fideism. Alvin Plantinga argued that belief in God is a properly basic belief, and so no basis for belief in God is necessary.

Christian apologetics

Christian apologetics (Greek: ἀπολογία, "verbal defence, speech in defence") is a branch of Christian theology that defends Christianity against objections.Christian apologetics has taken many forms over the centuries, starting with Paul the Apostle in the early church and Patristic writers such as Origen, Augustine of Hippo, Justin Martyr and Tertullian, then continuing with writers such as Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and Anselm of Canterbury during Scholasticism.

Blaise Pascal was an active Christian apologist before the Age of Enlightenment. In the modern period Christianity was defended through the efforts of many authors such as G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis, as well as G. E. M. Anscombe.

In contemporary times Christianity is defended through the work of figures such as Robert Barron, Richard Swinburne, J. P. Moreland, Ravi Zacharias, Rabi Maharaj, Robert Hutchinson, John Lennox, Doug Wilson, Lee Strobel, Francis Collins, Henry M. Morris, Hugh W. Nibley, Alister McGrath, Alvin Plantinga, Hugh Ross, Frank Turek, Greg Koukl, James White, David Wood, Dinesh D’Souza, David Bentley Hart, Nabeel Qureshi, William Lane Craig, Ray Comfort, and Roger Scruton.

Church of All Worlds

The Church of All Worlds (CAW) is an American Neopagan religious group whose stated mission is to evolve a network of information, mythology, and experience that provides a context and stimulus for reawakening Gaia and reuniting her children through tribal community dedicated to responsible stewardship and evolving consciousness. It is based in Cotati, California.

The key founder of CAW is Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, who serves the Church as "Primate", later along with his wife, Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart (d. 2014), designated High Priestess. CAW was formed in 1962, evolving from a group of friends and lovers who were in part inspired by a fictional religion of the same name in the science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) by Robert A. Heinlein; the church's mythology includes science fiction to this day.

CAW's members, called Waterkin, espouse Paganism, but the Church is not a belief-based religion. Members experience Divinity and honor these experiences while also respecting the views of others. They recognize "Gaea," the Earth Mother Goddess and the Father God, as well as the realm of Faeries and the deities of many other pantheons. Many of their ritual celebrations are centered on the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece.

Cognitive therapy

Cognitive therapy (CT) is a type of psychotherapy developed by American psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck. CT is one of the therapeutic approaches within the larger group of cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) and was first expounded by Beck in the 1960s. Cognitive therapy is based on the cognitive model, which states that thoughts, feelings and behavior are all connected, and that individuals can move toward overcoming difficulties and meeting their goals by identifying and changing unhelpful or inaccurate thinking, problematic behavior, and distressing emotional responses. This involves the individual working collaboratively with the therapist to develop skills for testing and modifying beliefs, identifying distorted thinking, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviors. A tailored cognitive case conceptualization is developed by the cognitive therapist as a roadmap to understand the individual's internal reality, select appropriate interventions and identify areas of distress.

Dempster–Shafer theory

The theory of belief functions, also referred to as evidence theory or Dempster–Shafer theory (DST), is a general framework for reasoning with uncertainty, with understood connections to other frameworks such as probability, possibility and imprecise probability theories. First introduced by Arthur P. Dempster in the context of statistical inference, the theory was later developed by Glenn Shafer into a general framework for modeling epistemic uncertainty—a mathematical theory of evidence. The theory allows one to combine evidence from different sources and arrive at a degree of belief (represented by a mathematical object called belief function) that takes into account all the available evidence.

In a narrow sense, the term Dempster–Shafer theory refers to the original conception of the theory by Dempster and Shafer. However, it is more common to use the term in the wider sense of the same general approach, as adapted to specific kinds of situations. In particular, many authors have proposed different rules for combining evidence, often with a view to handling conflicts in evidence better. The early contributions have also been the starting points of many important developments, including the transferable belief model and the theory of hints.

Fallen angel

In Abrahamic religions, fallen angels are angels who were expelled from heaven. The literal term "fallen angel" appears neither in the Bible nor in other Abrahamic scriptures, but is used to describe angels who were cast out of heaven, or angels who sinned. Such angels often tempt humans to sin.

The idea of fallen angels derived from the Book of Enoch, a Jewish pseudepigraph, or the assumption that the "sons of God" (בני האלוהים) mentioned in Genesis 6:1–4 are angels. In the period immediately preceding the composition of the New Testament, some sects of Judaism, as well as many Christian Church Fathers, identified the "sons of God" of Genesis 6:1–4 as fallen angels. Rabbinic Judaism and Christian authorities after the third century rejected the Enochian writings and the notion of an illicit union between angels and women producing giants. Christian doctrine states that the sins of fallen angels start before the beginning of human history. Accordingly, fallen angels became identified with angels who were led by Satan in rebellion against God and equated with demons. However, during the late Second Temple period, demons were not thought of as the fallen angels themselves, but as the surviving souls of their monstrous offspring. According to this interpretation, fallen angels have intercourse with human women, giving existence to the Biblical giants. To purge the world of these creatures, God sends the Great Deluge and their bodies are destroyed. However, their spiritual parts survive, henceforth roaming the earth as demons.

Although sometimes denied by some scholars, many classical Islam scholars accepted the existence of fallen angels. Evidence for the motif of fallen angels can be traced back to reports attributed to some of the companions of Muhammad, such as Ibn Abbas (619-687) and Abdullah ibn Masud (594-653). At the same time, some Islamic scholars opposed the assumption of fallen angels by stressing out the piety of angels supported by verses of Quran, such as 16:49 and 66:6. One of the first opponents of fallen angels was the early and influential Islamic ascete Hasan of Basra (642-728). To support the doctrine of infallible angels, he pointed at verses which stressed the piety of angels, while simultaneously reinterpreting verses which might imply acknowledgement of fallen angels. For that reason, he read the term mala'ikah (angels) in reference to Harut and Marut in 2:102 as malikayn (kings), depicting them as ordinary men and not as angels and Iblis as a jinn. Disagreement is apparent even among scholars who accepted the possibility of fallen angels, mostly regarding the precise degree of angelic fallibility; according to a common assertion, only the messengers among angels are impeccable.Academic scholars have discussed whether or not the Quranic jinn are identical to the Biblical fallen angels. Although the different types of spirits in the Quran are sometimes hard to distinguish, the jinn in Islamic traditions seem to differ in their major characteristics from fallen angels.

Fazlallah Astarabadi

Fażlu l-Lāh Astar-Ābādī (Persian: فضل‌الله استرآبادی‎, 1339/40 in Astarābād – 1394 in Nakhchivan), also known as Fażlullāh Tabrīzī Astarābādī by a pseudonym al-Ḥurūfī and a pen name Nāimī, was an Iranian mystic who founded the Ḥurūfī movement. The basic belief of the Ḥurūfiyyah was that the God was incarnated in the body of Fażlullāh and that he would appear as Mahdī when the Last Day was near in order to save Muslims, Christians and Jews. His followers first came from the village of Toqchi near Isfahan and from there, the fame of his small community spread throughout Khorasan, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Shirvan. The center of Fażlullāh Nāimī's influence was Baku and most of his followers came from Shirvan. Among his followers was the famous Ḥurūfī poet Seyyed Imadaddin Nasimi, one of the greatest Turkic mystical poets of the late 14th and early 15th centuries.

Incident (Scientology)

L. Ron Hubbard used the term Incident in a specific context for auditing in Scientology and Dianetics: the description of space operatic events in the Universe's distant past, involving alien interventions in past lives. It is a basic belief of Scientology that a human being is an immortal spiritual being, termed a thetan, trapped on planet Earth in a "meat body".

Although Incidents can be any incident anywhere, Hubbard's writings described some in particular, set in Earth's prehistory. Many of them first appeared in Hubbard's book What to Audit (later retitled A History of Man).

In his writings and lectures, Hubbard describes Incidents said to have occurred to thetans during the past few trillion years. Most of these followed a consistent pattern, wherein a hostile alien civilization captured and brainwashed free thetans. Often, instances of implantation are termed Incidents, while the subject of the implants are often termed Goals. Some Incidents are simply unusual and traumatic events, whereof the memory is said to linger for trillions of years. According to Hubbard, only Scientology's methods can remove the resulting neuroses.


Momolianism is a belief system, of the Kadazan-Dusun people of Sabah, formerly North Borneo. The belief is that land is a gift from the creator, the earth is a centre of the universe and that the land connects them to the past, present and future. This system of belief, inherited from the ancestors, was passed down through the Bobohizan, (Kadazan term) or Bobolian (Dusun term) priestesses, and has guided and ensured the survival of the Kadazan-Dusun people, throughout their social evolution from small community of settlers in what was said to be a 10 household longhouse at Nunuk Ragang to the present population of more than half a million individuals (2010 Malaysian Census figure). The term Momolianism itself is derived from word Bobolian.

Noble Eightfold Path

The Noble Eightfold Path (Pali: ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga; Sanskrit: āryāṣṭāṅgamārga) is an early summary of the path of Buddhist practices leading to liberation from samsara, the painful cycle of rebirth.The Eightfold Path consists of eight practices: right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right samadhi ('meditative absorption or union'). In early Buddhism, these practices started with understanding that the body-mind works in a corrupted way (right view), followed by entering the Buddhist path of self-observance, self-restraint, and cultivating kindness and compassion; and culminating in dhyana or samadhi, which re-inforces these practices for the development of the body-mind. In later Buddhism, insight (Prajñā) became the central soteriological instrument, leading to a different concept and structure of the path, in which the "goal" of the Buddhist path came to be specified as ending ignorance and rebirth.The Noble Eightfold Path is one of the principal teachings of Theravada Buddhism, taught to lead to Arhatship. In the Theravada tradition, this path is also summarized as sila (morality), samadhi (meditation) and prajna (insight). In Mahayana Buddhism, this path is contrasted with the Bodhisattva path, which is believed to go beyond Arahatship to full Buddhahood.In Buddhist symbolism, the Noble Eightfold Path is often represented by means of the dharma wheel (dharmachakra), in which its eight spokes represent the eight elements of the path.

Patricia Cheng

Patricia Wenjie Cheng (born 1952) is a leading researcher in cognitive psychology who works on human reasoning. She is best known for her psychological work on human understanding of causality. Her "power theory of the probabilistic contrast model," or power PC theory (1997)posits that people filter observations of events through a basic belief that causes have the power to generate (or prevent) their effects, thereby inferring specific cause-effect relations.

Reformed epistemology

In the philosophy of religion, Reformed epistemology is a school of philosophical thought concerning the nature of knowledge (epistemology) as it applies to religious beliefs. The central proposition of Reformed epistemology is that beliefs can be justified by more than evidence alone, contrary to the positions of evidentialism, which argues that while belief other than through evidence may be beneficial, it violates some epistemic duty. Central to Reformed epistemology is the proposition that belief in God may be "properly basic" and not need to be inferred from other truths to be rationally warranted. William Lane Craig describes Reformed epistemology as "One of the most significant developments in contemporary Religious Epistemology ... which directly assaults the evidentialist construal of rationality."Alvin Plantinga distinguishes between what he calls de facto from de jure objections to Christian belief. A de facto objection is one that attempts to show that Christian truth claims are false. In contrast, de jure objections attempt to undermine Christian belief even if it is, in fact, true. Plantinga argues that there are no successful objections to Christian belief apart from de facto (fact-based) objections.Reformed epistemology was so named because it represents a continuation of the 16th-century Reformed theology of John Calvin, who postulated a sensus divinitatis, an innate divine awareness of God's presence. More recent influences on reformed epistemology are found in philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff's Reason within the Bounds of Religion, published in 1976, and Plantinga's "Reason and Belief in God", published in 1983.

Although Plantinga's Reformed epistemology developed over three decades, it was not fully articulated until 1993 with the publication of two books in an eventual trilogy: Warrant: The Current Debate, and Warrant and Proper Function. The third in the series was Warranted Christian Belief, published in 2000. Other prominent defenders of Reformed epistemology include William Lane Craig, William Alston, and Michael C. Rea.

Regress argument

The regress argument (also known as the diallelus (Latin) or diallelon, from Greek di allelon "through or by means of one another") is a problem in epistemology and, in general, a problem in any situation where a statement has to be justified.According to this argument, any proposition requires a justification. However, any justification itself requires support. This means that any proposition whatsoever can be endlessly (infinitely) questioned.

Robert Audi

Robert N. Audi (born November 1941) is an American philosopher whose major work has focused on epistemology, ethics (especially on ethical intuitionism), and the theory of action. He is O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, and previously held a Chair in the Business School there. His 2005 book, The Good in the Right, updates and strengthens Rossian intuitionism and develops the epistemology of ethics. He has also written important works of political philosophy, particularly on the relationship between church and state. He is a past president of the American Philosophical Association and the Society of Christian Philosophers.

Social actions

In sociology, social action, also known as Weberian social action, refers to an act which takes into the account of actions and reactions of individuals (or 'agents'). According to Max Weber, "an Action is 'social' if the acting individual takes account of the behavior of others and is thereby oriented in its course".

Solus Christus

Solo Christo (Latin ablative, sōlō Christō, meaning "by Christ alone") is one of the five solae that summarize the Protestant Reformers' basic belief that salvation is obtained through the atoning work of Christ alone, apart from individual works, and that Christ is the only mediator between God and man (excluding e.g. saints). It holds that salvation cannot be obtained without Christ.


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