In the world of science and mathematics, much is made of the concept of proof. This proof has been used in these disciplines to separate belief from knowledge. However, belief and knowledge have different meanings in real life situations. One of the fathers of modern psychology, Carl Jung, strived to give the distinctions between knowing and believing. In his endeavors, he explained that, most of the human population mainly bases our lives on the beliefs of others. However, in the struggle for wholeness or individuation, we struggle so much in search of our own knowing (Walter, 1988).
Different individuals have provided the distinctions between the concepts of knowing and believing according to their understanding of these concepts. In the book “Do Not Go Quietly, A Guide To Living Consciously and Aging Wisely For People Who Weren’t Born Yesterday,” the authors distinguish between these concepts. They define belief as depending on the things that other people say, claim, and think through learning from them, which makes beliefs intellectual rather than innate (2013). On the other hand, knowing comes from our own personal and direct life experiences, and generally concurs with our inner thoughts, dependable and consequential (George & Cappannelli, 2013). In the current society, people have always replaced opinions with facts. This has resulted from the education systems which transfer knowledge from the educators to the learners using the information learned from the ideas of different people of the past as opposed to personal experiences.
The distinctions between knowing and believing come with other distinctions such as the difference between actual and virtual; the difference between fact and fiction; the difference between originals and copies; and the difference between real and ideal. As the famous saying goes, two wrongs do not make a right, so do two beliefs not make a proof, but two beliefs. However, most people in the society today operate by combining two beliefs to make a proof, thereby asserting that they know. This often brings the confusion between knowing and believing. For instance, a person can believe that his acquaintance Jeff lives in Miami. And, Miami is a city in Florida State. Therefore, making inferences that, Jeff lives in Florida can be done with much confidence. In the above example, it can be confused with knowing. However, this is mere belief. However, if a student at the Harvard Business School says that their teacher said that, they will not be going to school over the Easter Holidays, this is knowing because the student actually was in contact with the teacher and got the information from the source. Also a tourist returning from his trip in the Sub Saharan Africa can also confidently say that he knows that Mara River is in rift valley and has a lot of crocodiles. Therefore, knowing is usually based on tangible evidence while believing is based on mere assumptions.
While believing entails compromising what we hear or read as true or false, knowing does not involve any controversies. Finding information from a third party such as newspapers, journals, research materials, or philosophical knowledge from our books comes with making choices whether these information are right or wrong. Believing therefore becomes knowing when the challenges of coping or believing have been attempted and accomplished. Knowing entails experiencing through accomplishments or through the five human senses.
George C., & Cappannelli S., (2013). Do Not Go Quietly: A Guide to Living Consciously and Aging Wisely for People Who Weren't Born Yesterday. Carlsbad, California: Hay House, Incorporated
Walter A. S., (1988). Mythos and Logos in the Thought of Carl Jung: The Theory of the Collective Unconscious in Scientific Perspective. Albany, New York: SUNY Press.