Scott, thank you for your comment. You are quite correct to point out the ambiguity of the word “just” in the sentence you highlighted. I did mean that all ideas are “only” beliefs that have no necessary connection (I should perhaps change it to “only.”). I don’t believe that accepting that we only have beliefs is minimizing or limiting the status if ideas. I think it makes them more useful to us by removing the illusion that we possess static, objective knowledge.

My opinion on the status of our ideas is similar to William James’s position that truth happens to an idea when it proves useful to us. Dewey’s instrumentalism also works for me, as does Nietzsche’s contention that we create truth when our ideas are useful to us. And these philosophers’ ideas are my response to your worthy objection that our ideas “seem more than just your/our/my beliefs.” All we have are beliefs that are not necessarily connected to reality, but that doesn’t mean our beliefs have no connection to reality. We do create our beliefs in response to the world and in terms of our own involvements with the world. Those beliefs affect how we perceive the world and how we act in the world and that gives our beliefs a kind of objective status, but not certainty. Certainty of knowledge is an illusion that removes us from the dynamic nature of truth and limits us. That’s why I think that saying that “our ideas are only beliefs” is important.

Philosophy professor reaching out beyond the ivory tower. I also run and

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