Belief is the affirmation of reality, but not all affirmations of reality are beliefs, for if we have, or have had, perceptual experience of a reality, we do not say, “I believe,” but “I see, hear, perceive, or remember.” Similarly, of the realities involved in our inner experience, we say, “What I had in mind, desired, hoped, or felt was…” or else say, more simply, “I was much moved, was in pain, felt affection or hatred, longed for, was thinking about, knew.” On the other hand, there are realities of the perceptual order in which we may express belief, as when we say, “I believe that New Zealand exists, that nitrogen is a gas, that the earth is round, that William the Conqueror crossed the Channel in 1066, that Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, was buried, and rose again.” The realities in which we thus express belief are not realities which we ourselves have observed, but are such that they could have been observed by a person appropriately situated in time and in place. Hence in this case it is not the nature of the realities affirmed that differentiates belief from experience of either the perceptual or the inner type. The difference lies elsewhere. When we affirm a reality of which we ourselves have, or have had, perceptual experience, it is the reality itself, present to our perceiving mind, which alike determines the content of our affirmation and justifies us in making it.
1 Written, by request, in reply to an article by Professor C. D. Broad, which appeared in Philosophy, April 1939, Vol. XIV, No. 54, pp. 131–154.