June 14th 2012, 03:51 AM #91
Re: Can We Today Believe In Miracles?
The primary meaning of "imagine" entails a stipulation that it is either certainly false or at least very possibly false. All works of fiction, for instance, are works of imagination. I do see it used sometimes in a sense akin to "guess," as in "I imagine they got stuck in traffic" if someone has not shown up someplace at the time they were expected to be there. The point of saying "I imagine" in such a context is that one does not actually know it to be the case; it is merely a suggestion as to what could be the case.
The word "know" contains the strongest sense of conviction: to say you know something is to say that you are quite certain that it is so. Depending on your philosophical leanings, you may think either that it is impossible for you to be mistaken or that the possibility of error is so small as to be of no importance. In formal philosophical usage, knowledge presupposes actual truth. To say that someone knows X is to say (among other things) that X is true. If X happens to be false in fact, then any assertion that someone knows X is just a mistake (or, occasionally, a lie).
I judge "think" to be the vaguest term of the lot. Depending on context, it may suggest anything from pure guesswork to near certainty. Unless you know me pretty well, my saying "I think Obama will be re-elected" is not telling you much about my expectations of what will happen in November except that if Obama wins, it won't come as a surprise to me.
"Believe" generally implies a strong conviction, often but not invariably with a tacit concession of possible error. To believe something is just to regard it as true. The main difference between belief and knowledge is that belief in a proposition is indifferent as to the reasons for which one regards it as true. One may believe for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all, whereas to know something, one must believe it, but one must also have a good reason to believe it. In the philosophical jargon, knowledge is justified true belief.
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