• William Todd


It will have been noticed that up to this point no analysis has been given of the key concept of belief. Anyone who is trying to analyze the statements of ordinary language must take account of statements about belief and it has been presupposed at many points that the solipsist could give an account of belief. However, many philosophers hold that it is not possible to analyze statements of this sort into statements about sensations, much less into statements about one’s own sensations. The solipsist must therefore show that this can be done in order to make a case for the plausibility of his position. Actually, he has not just his sensations to work with but terms referring to his feelings and emotions can easily be added to the primitive language of the system. It is one of these, the feeling or emotion of surprise, which will play the central role, and the basic analysis will be very simple: to believe p is to have a disposition to feel the emotion of surprise upon discovering that p is not the case. Thus we need only add a primitive term which will refer to the feeling of surprise on the intended interpretation of the system. Since we have counterfactual conditionals within the system we can say that A believes that p if and only if A would be surprised at not p. In case A refers to another mind the term can be dealt with in the ways indicated in the last chapter, and if it refers to oneself the term can be eliminated entirely. We must next deal with the phrase “be surprised at not-p.”


Lively Image Ordinary Language Intentional Object Intended Interpretation Contradictory Statement 
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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Todd
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CincinnatiUSA

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