Alief (mental state)

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In philosophy and psychology, an alief is an automatic or habitual belief-like attitude, particularly one that is in tension with a person’s explicit beliefs.[1]

For example, a person standing on a transparent balcony may believe that they are safe, but alieve that they are in danger. A person watching a sad movie may believe that the characters are completely fictional, but their aliefs may lead them to cry nonetheless. A person who is hesitant to eat fudge that has been formed into the shape of feces, or who exhibits reluctance in drinking from a sterilized bedpan may believe that the substances are safe to eat and drink, but may alieve that they are not. And a person who believes in racial equality may nonetheless have aliefs – subtle patterns of response associated with their implicit attitudes – that cause them to treat people of different racial groups in subtly different ways.

The term alief was introduced by Tamar Gendler, a professor of philosophy and cognitive science at Yale University, in a pair of influential articles published in 2008.[2] Since the publication of these original articles, the notion of alief has been utilized by Gendler and others—including Paul Bloom[3] and Daniel Dennett[4]—to explain a range of psychological phenomena in addition to those listed above, including the pleasure of stories,[5] the persistence of positive illusions,[6] certain religious beliefs,[7] and certain psychiatric disturbances, such as phobias and obsessive–compulsive disorder.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tamar Szabó Gendler, Alief and Belief". PhilPapers. 2009-01-27. Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  2. ^ "Philosopher's Annual". Philosophersannual.org. Retrieved 2010-05-27. 
  3. ^ Paul Bloom, How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like. New York: W. W. Norton & Co
  4. ^ Ryan T. McKay & Daniel Dennett, "The Evolution of Misbelief" Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2009), 32:493–510 Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/S0140525X09990975
  5. ^ Paul Bloom, How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like. New York: W. W. Norton & Co
  6. ^ Ryan T. McKay and Daniel C. Dennett, "The Evolution of Misbelief," Behavioral and Brain Sciences , Volume 32 , Issue 06 , Dec 2009 , pp 493–510 doi:10.1017/S0140525X09990975
  7. ^ K. M. Hodge, "On Imagining the Afterlife," Journal of Cognition and Culture
  8. ^ Ryan T. McKay and Daniel C. Dennett, "The Evolution of Misbelief," Behavioral and Brain Sciences , Volume 32 , Issue 06, Dec 2009 , pp 493–510 doi:10.1017/S0140525X09990975

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