Al-Farabi’s 10th century reading of Aristotle — which set many patterns for later Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin developments — was generally historically salutary, but among other things reflected a definite “theoreticist” bias, strongly privileging episteme (“deductive science”, or knowledge in a strong sense) over dialectic and practical judgment. It was not until Kant that this bias began to be counterbalanced again. Even Hegel still understated the role of dialectic and practical judgment in Aristotle. (See also Aristotelian Demonstration; The Epistemic Modesty of Plato and Aristotle.)

It is in this context of dialectic and practical judgment that I want to think about belief. I have a bit of a double meaning in mind, recalling both discussions among analytic philosophers and questions about faith and reason.

To the analytic philosophers, I want to recommend a pragmatically flavored emphasis on sound belief as a result of dialectic and practical judgment, to replace many uses of “true belief” that is supposed to simply correspond to a state of affairs. (See also “Said Of”; Brandom on Truth; Commitment.)

In the context of faith and reason, I want to respectfully recommend that faith should be decoupled from a list of things one is supposed to assert or “believe”. I have always believed that the highest concept of faith is instead a pure affective attitude and way of being and doing that resembles hope and charity and an anticipation of grace. (See also Theology.)