My question is whether or not beliefs require objects. Put another way, is it possible to have a belief about “nothing” or about a negative, as opposed to affirmative, proposition? This question came up in a discussion about the definition of Atheism. Essentially, is Atheism either A) a belief that there are no Gods; or B) a lack of belief (or denial) in the existence of at least one God? Thank you.
There are several questions
There are several questions here, and we need to distinguish them. 1) Does belief require objects? Beliefs are "about" in a very broad sense, but I believe (as should you) that there is no ratio of two integers that equals 2 when squared. There is no object that answers to my belief, but it's clear that my belief is really a belief, indeed a true one, and in some sense is about something. In this case, we could perfectly sensibly say it's about numbers, though not about some specific number. This might sound superficially paradoxical, but the paradox persists only if we insist on treating the word "about" in a way that rides roughshod over how we actually use it. 2) Is it possible to have a belief about "nothing" or about a negative, as opposed to affirmative proposition? Two different issues here. I can believe that Barack Obama is not seven feet tall. That's a negative proposition, and I clearly can believe it; any analysis of belief that claims otherwise wold be silly. But it's not a...
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