Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Differences Between Belief and Knowledge

Belief vs Knowledge

Perhaps you wondered why during your philosophy class the subject matter for trying to differentiate trivial things occurred. Even if the topic was not debatable, it became an issue in philosophy. Maybe that is how things work out. Even simple things become complicated when you relate it through philosophy. Hence, in this article, we will be differentiating two terms which are also often used in philosophy – “belief” and “knowledge.”

Without digging deeper into the meaning of each term, we can define “belief” as “one’s principles” while “knowledge” can be defined as a set of facts. However, if you try to pound your brain more, we can infer that knowledge can originate from a set of justified beliefs. So how can we differentiate between “belief” from “knowledge”? Let’s find out.

According to my research, a belief is the subjective requirement for knowledge. This means that a belief is a biased and personal judgment. However, if we have laid proof or evidence, this belief can be considered as knowledge. In other words, a belief can be a certain knowledge. In the Belief-Knowledge Continuum, there are varying levels of belief. If the “belief” has reached a +10, it will now be considered as certain knowledge. If it does not, it will only stay as a belief.

There are three kinds of belief – vague, well-supported, and beyond a reasonable doubt. We can say that a belief is vague when there are no concrete, supporting statements. For example, “Eating nuts can make you smart.” If we will look at the statement alone, this is just a vague belief – no concrete, supporting statements can help prove that eating nuts can make a person smart. In a well-supported belief, you cannot rule out a certain notion. For example, you believed that the test was hard since you got a failing mark. We cannot rule out that the test was hard since you got failing marks. As for the belief beyond a reasonable doubt, we cannot say it’s a fact unless we’re the ones who experienced it ourselves. For example, “The lady saw the World Trade Center collapse.” It was a fact, but we’re still not certain.

So what is knowledge? “Knowledge” is defined as “justified, true belief.” In order to “know,” we have our emotions, reason, perception and knowledge. According to Plato’s Theory of Knowledge, there will be knowledge as long as there is a justifiable truth and belief. We can say that Plato’s Theory of Knowledge and the Belief-Knowledge Continuum coincide with one another. Truth is the objective requirement for knowledge. However, if you just believe that something is true, it does not always make what you believe true.

As we continue to grow, we always gain secondhand knowledge. This secondhand knowledge can be derived from our cultural traditions. In our own culture, there are certain things we must know and learn. Other sources of secondhand knowledge are: school, Internet, expert opinions, and the news media. As long as they are around, our knowledge will continue to stack and pile.


  1. A belief is the subjective requirement for knowledge.

  2. “Knowledge” is defined as “justified true belief.”

  3. In other words, a belief can be considered knowledge as long as it is a justified truth. This notion is also supported by the Belief-Knowledge Continuum and by Plato’s Theory of Knowledge.

  4. There are three types of belief – vague belief, well-supported belief, and belief beyond a reasonable doubt.

  5. Truth also plays an important role in the justification of belief. “Truth” is defined as “the objective requirement for knowledge.”

  6. As long as a particular belief is justified, it is considered to be knowledge.


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  1. belief is perspective-based, knowledge transcends personal/cultural/religious perspectives and is fact.

  2. Belief in the religious sense generally means Blind belief without supporting certified facts. It appears that most people cannot or will not get past this point, either through successful indoctrination or fear. Plus there is the comfort factor which backscup the belief. Freud called this Wish fulfillment!
    Those fortunate to apply critical thinking plus logic, get past this point and embrace life with a new energy and enjoyment.
    To throw off the shackles of indoctrination is empowerment indeed!

  3. Thanks for the explanation

  4. 1. Why is the philosophical definition of belief differ from the common academic version?
    2. Why does the same seem to equate knowledge with truth (which is different from the common definition)?
    3. Why is knowledge equated with justification?

  5. Apologies to point out this. It is a matter of contention that knowledge is equivalent to justified, true belief.


    (1) As stated: <> It refers to the “theory of knowledge” of Plato, which is a Classical Greek theory of knowledge. It doesn’t involve the counter arguments and challenges described by the Gettier Problems, which indicate the risk of knowledge being considered as justified, true belief.

    Ref.: https://iep.utm.edu/gettier/

    (2) If we talk and write of beliefs, or even emotions, we are somehow expressing an “awareness” or “knowledge” of beliefs and emotions. So that’s awareness or knowledge of beliefs (knowledge of subjective truths). For instance, if a person says “I am angry right now”, and also the objective actions like kicking at a nearby cupboard, or the expression changing at the sane time actually points at the truth of the statement (and this type of incident or set of events happen repeatedly, i.e., consistency), then the person is actually “truly” aware (knowledge) of his own mood. While the knowledge of the measument of the amount of salt kept in front of you, or the experimental results of Litmus Test are actually involving observation of the empirical truths (facts). So that’s actually awareness of knowledge of “facts”. So knowledge is quite distinct from belief, given there can be “knowledge of the subjective truths” (e.g. – mood and emotions), and there can be “knowledge of objective truths” too (observable, material objects and material properties, and material phenomenon).

    We cannot treat the emotions, beliefs, theories, the same ways as the actual, objective, empirical entities (which can be perceived directly and also known indirectly using the senses) like the wooden chair (length and width of the legs of the chair, or material density or the type of the wood used in the chair, etc.). It can obviously be argued that we can know of beliefs and thoughts using scientific apparatus, however that involves a sort of “justified assumption”. Since by the EEG signals of the brain are ultimately the indicators of the brain activity in terms of bio-chemical reactions (empirical observations), and just assumed to be indicating a thought, or type of thoughts. However it still is not possible to differentiate between which thought or belief corresponds to which signal, given there can be same thoughts generating different signals. For instance, a person can be having a fear (emotion) of snakes when he thinks of snakes curling around his hand (thought). That can generate a high frequency signal. However, will the signal be the same if the person thinks the same, but is a snake conservationist who deals with snakes regularly and infact loves to “interact” with snakes with the snakes curling around his hands? I guess not. If the person’s expression and external actions show excitement (high frequency signals) or calm demeanour and fearlessness (low frequency signals), then the signals would likely NOT show similar characteristics. Because the subjective assumptions aren’t having enough objective observations in “synthetic agreement” with them. So how come one would differentiate between which thought is corresponding (objectively) to a particular signal? That’s where one still have to evidentially prove thinhs. In simpler terms, even if with EEG we are able to say which signal signifies which emotion, we aren’t able to say with certainty (yet) which emotion corresponds to which objective entity. If a person has excessive fear of both being bitten by a snake and slaughtered by an axe, how to differentiate between the two fears solely based on the EEG signal (without other forms of observation data)?

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