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12. LECTURE XII. BELIEF (continued)
(4) Between content and objective there is sometimes a very wide gulf, for example in the case of "Caesar crossed the Rubicon." This gulf may, when it is first perceived, give us a feeling that we cannot really " know " anything about the outer world. All we can "know," it may be said, is what is now in our thoughts. If Caesar and the Rubicon cannot be bodily in our thoughts, it might seem as though we must remain cut off from knowledge of them. I shall not now deal at length with this feeling, since it is necessary first to define "knowing," which cannot be done yet. But I will say, as a preliminary answer, that the feeling assumes an ideal of knowing which I believe to be quite mistaken. It assumes, if it is thought out, something like the mystic unity of knower and known. These two are often said to be combined into a unity by the fact of cognition; hence when this unity is plainly absent, it may seem as if there were no genuine cognition. For my part, I think such theories and feelings wholly mistaken: I believe knowing to be a very external and complicated relation, incapable of exact definition, dependent upon causal laws, and involving no more unity than there is between a signpost and the town to which it points. I shall return to this question on a later occasion; for the moment these provisional remarks must suffice.
(5) The objective reference of a belief is connected with the fact that all or some of the constituents of its content have meaning. If I say "Caesar conquered Gaul," a person who knows the meaning of the three words composing my statement knows as much as can be known about the nature of the objective which would make my statement true. It is clear that the objective reference of a belief is, in general, in some way derivative from the meanings of the words or images that occur in its content. There are, however, certain complications which must be borne in mind. In the first place, it might be contended that a memory-image acquires meaning only through the memory-belief, which would seem, at least in the case of memory, to make belief more primitive than the meaning of images. In the second place, it is a very singular thing that meaning, which is single, should generate objective reference, which is dual, namely true and false. This is one of the facts which any theory of belief must explain if it is to be satisfactory.
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