- 大学院教育学研究紀要 (ISSN:13451677)
- vol.9, pp.53-70, 2006
Anthropological writings abound in allusions to belief. Ethnographers have been accustomed to say, for example, that people of such and such place firmly believe that most of their misfortunes are caused by witchcraft of envious neighbors, or that they believe in the supreme God who controls rainfall, etc. Such descriptions have often been considered problematic, to say the least. For, as many critics argue, if the term "belief" is related to some inner state of a believer, it would be enormously difficult to infer other people's belief, particularly if they are culturally different, when you have no means of access directly to the inside of someone's mind. In this article I will show this kind of criticism is based on inappropriate assumptions about the very concept of belief, and thus is totally unfounded. As Needham's famous book "Belief, Language, and Experience" shows, this criticism might well have devastating effects on anthropological research. I will argue that the word 'believe' as well as other related concepts does not refer to any specific inner state of mind, but is related to two axes of binary estimation of the belief-object: an axis of trustworthiness (true/false distinction in reference to a proposition will be shown to be just another case of trustworthiness), and an axis of possibilities of conflicting judgment in shared discursive space (space of communication). Belief (and/or knowledge) is not simply a matter of intellectual concern, but is directly pertinent to social subject's pragmatic engagement with the world seen as a kind of a gamble-space.