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Believe, to be convinced that a fact or proposition is true, either because one has not bothered to examine it, because one has examined it, but badly, or because one has examined it well. Only in the last case can our confidence in facts really be solid and satisfactory. It is both hard and unusual to feel at ease with ourselves when we have made no use of our reason or if the use we have made of it is bad. If we believe , without having any reason to believe , then we will always feel guilty of neglecting the most important aspect of our humanity, even if we discover the truth, and it is impossible for such a stroke of luck to compensate for such irregular conduct. The individual who makes a mistake, after calling on all the faculties of his mind, still proves to himself that he has done his duty as a reasonable human being. It would be as wrong to believe something without examining it, as it would be not to believe an obvious or clearly proven truth. We can therefore feel convinced in any given case or on any given subject only if we listen to the voice of our conscience and our reason. Acting otherwise is to go against our own intelligence and a misuse of faculties given to us for no other purpose than to accept the strongest probability and the best available evidence. These principles cannot be contested without destroying reason and throwing mankind into all manner of confusion. See ">Credulity, Faith.

 

Title: Believe
Original Title: Croire
Volume and Page: Vol. 4 (1754), p. 502
Author: Denis Diderot
Translator: Malcolm Eden [University of London, malcolmeden@free.fr]
Subject terms:
Metaphysics
Original Version (ARTFL): Link
Availability:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. To use this work in a way not covered by the license, please see http://quod.lib.umich.edu/d/did/terms.html .

URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0000.773
Citation (MLA): Diderot, Denis. "Believe." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Malcolm Eden. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2007. Web. [fill in today's date in the form 18 Apr. 2009 and remove square brackets]. <http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0000.773>. Trans. of "Croire," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, vol. 4. Paris, 1754.
Citation (Chicago): Diderot, Denis. "Believe." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Malcolm Eden. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2007. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0000.773 (accessed [fill in today's date in the form April 18, 2009 and remove square brackets]). Originally published as "Croire," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 4:502 (Paris, 1754).
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