General Question

squirbel's avatar

Is knowing the same as believing?

Asked by squirbel (4297points) March 14th, 2008 from iPhone

Is knowing the same as believing? If knowledge is passed down to you, do you “know” it, or do you “believe” it?

For instance: a scientist carries out an experiment, and learns the outcome. He “knows” the outcome. When he teaches a class, or passes the knowledge, do the students “know” the information or “believe” it?

I realize the difference is slight; that is obvious.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

16 Answers

purephase's avatar

That question has many layers. Think about religion or faith. Someone could beleive in GOD’s existence, but do they know if GOD exists? Every different religions followers think their God is the only one, but no one really knows. So in that sense knowing and beleiving are very different.

aaronblohowiak's avatar

actually, a belief is any cognitive content held to be true. i suppose you could have cognitive content which you do not hold to be true, in which case you would “know” it without “believing” it, per se.

hearkat's avatar

There were times during my personal battle in surviving and overcoming the lingering issues of childhood sexual abuse when I knew certain things about my self-worth (in terms of rationally understanding the concepts), but I didn’t believe them (e.g. I didn’t feel that way in my heart). That’s the best way I can explain it for now…

MrKnowItAll's avatar

Knowing is internal

Believing is external

ccatron's avatar

believe – to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so: Only if one believes in something can one act purposefully.

know – to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty: I know the situation fully.


Ken00bi's avatar

I think both terms are not absolute. One can “know” something but later find out that what you knew was false or inaccurate. Knowing often relates to personal experieces, or anything that is visible, touchable and concrete. Believing refers to abstract concepts like
” life must have a meaning”, “there is a God”. There is no way to determine which of the two terms are more valid. There is no way to know if believing in a almighty God is false or true. Thus I tend to think that believing and knowing are closely related and are often the same.

xacrox's avatar

I know that being vegan is right, while others may agree and believe it is right, they don’t know for sure. I think you need to have a solid backing in order to separate knowing from believing.

spendy's avatar

Anything opinion-based is a “belief” and not, in fact, “known” to be true. You can know what you believe, but that doesn’t, at any point, automatically make your belief factual. If it is a belief, it is opinion. A fact is not something you can either believe or not believe (unless you are also irrational and unreasonable…which you could not even claim to be without contradicting yourself, haha). And while there still remains the majority rule…the majority sometimes/often believes one thing or another and stakes claim that they know. If it can be argued, there are no grounds for factual claim.

@xacrox – and I would have to disagree with you and say that you ”believe being vegan is right”. Whether or not it is right would be an opinion (on either side of the fence). However, it would be a fact that you believe being vegan is right for you. You know? :) Very likely, this is what you meant to say. But, this is also where the line between fact and opinion/belief is drawn.

steelmarket's avatar

There really is no such thing as knowing. The very act of perception is an act of belief. What we call truth is just a locally-held commonality among fellow consenting perceivers. And our knowing is shaped by our ability, or inability, to describe ourselves and our surroundings. It is in our descriptions that we create the illusion of knowledge.

oratio's avatar

Oh sure there is personal knowledge. We know consequences of cause and effect, it would be hard to walk and talk otherwise. But I see the point. Most of our “knowledge” is basically based on faith. We believe that electricity is what makes things tick, and not magic powers. The scientists and researchers are the priests and prophets that we can choose to believe, or not. Basically the possibility of changing our minds about preexistent dogmas, the ability to criticise commonly held truth, is what makes us go forward. We cant personally know all that we believe. Then there would be no time or possibility to make new discoveries, in science or otherwise.

squirbel's avatar


I love that you caught the drift – and yes – I agree that we have to believe certain things in order to progress because we can’t possibly know everything.

Zen's avatar

@Ken00bi The same can be said for belief. You can believe something to be true, then find out later it is false. It’s just a semantic thing, I think.

squirbel's avatar

Beliefs are not meant to be true though. One believes them to be, but that doesn’t make them so.

I believe asian languages of today all descended from a common language at one point in time.


kess's avatar

The Things that you know are not necessarily the things you believe.
Knowledge is all around us, Some are Truth (all knowledge) and
Others are false (no knowledge),

Belief Stems from the desire of the heart
From these desire we choose our knowledge
We use that chosen knowledge to form our belief.
Which in turn makes US, True or False.

Having knowledge is nothing, Unless you differentiate the Truth
from False and assign them their proper place.

Unbelief is when knowledge is applied improperly and it is the
same as having false knowledge.

E.G Two person belief that money is good,
But one uses it to enslave others (unbeliever),
While the other uses it to give others freedom( believer).

Therefore we see that by our desires ONLY,
We (each person as an individual) determine what is Truth and what is False.

And knowledge is useless to those who do not desire Truth.

So we see one cannot believe unless He desires Truth.
Then Truth becomes Him and He become Truth and posseses all knowledge.

Strauss's avatar

From a purely subjective point of view—

If I believe something, I feel I know it, whether that belief comes from faith or from empirical data.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther