For a serious book of philosophy, where better to begin to canvass various philosophical concepts and arguments than in relation to what is so familiar to every one of us –– the fact that we all have many and varied beliefs.
The book is an introduction of philosophy, indeed intended as an introductory textbook. The author, as he wrote it, had both the teacher and the student in mind. He hopes it will prove a worthy contribution in the college, seminary and university classroom, both interesting and serious.
As well as thirteen clearly written chapters introducing the various topics, it is also provided with helpful summaries, tutorials, and work sheets.
In considering belief we raise raises many of the central problems philosophers have discussed: knowledge, truth, justification, rationality, meaning, explanation, self deception, interpretation, reality, cause and effect, personal identity, theories, laws, hypotheses, the self, survival, God.
Since belief is a universal phenomenon, it has unfortunately become common to understand the unqualified term "believer' of the religious person. It seems strange to ask the question, "Are you a believer?' outside the religious context. But we do when we are thinking of a particular theory or ideology or political attitude. We sometimes want to know whether she is "one of us!' The author sometimes finds it convenient to illustrate his exposition by referring to religious beliefs. One does not have to be a religious believer to see that it is relevant and indeed interesting to do so. The history of philosophy provides many classical examples of such discussion.
The book is of wide general interest. As well as doing service in the classroom, it will also prove its worth within other contexts. It will serve the aims of serious discussion groups, as well as providing a basis for regular and earnest individual study. We hope also that it will find a place with inquiring people of religious faith.