To Believe or to Know?
 That is the question.

As for the answer, opinions vary.

The Greek philosopher Proclus demonstrated, based on Plato’s comments on the aspects of Being and Becoming, that Opinion or “Doxa” partakes of “that which comes into being and passes away in later time”.
Proclus also added that Opinion can be identified as being divisible and composite and as a major contributor in the process of differentiation.

At a higher level of perception, Proclus, continuing the comment on Plato’s discourse, identified Understanding or “Dianoia” as partaking of “that which always is”, characterized as unchangeable, stable and incontrovertible.

To Believe or to Know?

At this point, leaving Opinion(s) behind, we shall investigate the objective meaning of these words.

In order to do that we first have to understand what a word is.
A word, according to, is “a single unit of language that has meaning and can be spoken or written”.

A word is also composed of various letters (in writing) and sounds (when spoken).

A letter, according to, is “any of the set of symbols used to write a language, representing a sound in the language”.

An alphabet, according to, is “a set of letters arranged in a fixed order, used for writing a language”.

Now, going back, we see that a word is actually composed in a system of letters (symbols) known as the alphabet.

A code, according to, is “a system of words, letters, or signs used to represent a message in secret form, or a system of numbers, letters, or signals used to represent something in a shorter or more convenient form”.

To decipher a code one would need to know the symbols and their meaning, as well as the meaning of the combined symbols (like words).

Without going into deep esoteric meanings of the symbol “A”, let’s assume that its only meaning is the sound that it produces when read (we will consider the English language in this case).

Considering any composite symbol, for example “apple”, one will decipher it by going through all the individual symbols, “a”, “p”, “l”, “e”, and deciphering them first.

We have deciphered the individual symbols and can now identify the sound of the composite symbol “apple”, but what is its meaning?

Where to find that?

A dictionary, according to, is “a book that contains a list of words in alphabetical order and that explains their meanings, or gives a word for them in another language; a similar product for use on a computer”.

In conclusion, we can consider the Dictionary as partaking of Understanding rather than Opinion.

(And yes, this whole demonstration is a paradox because I have used the dictionary to demonstrate that the dictionary partakes of Understanding – and now you may also understand the nature of this dualistic reality)

“To believe” is defined as to “accept that (something) is true, especially without proof” ( and/or “to think that something is true, correct, or real” (

“To know” is defined as to “be aware of (something) through observation, inquiry, or information” ( and/or “to be familiar with or have experience and understanding of” (

To Believe or To Know?

So far we have demonstrated that a word is a code and we have defined our two words (better said, we have deciphered our two codes).

But what does one or the other imply and how do these codes function?

Let’s analyze the definition of “to believe” and let’s see what information can we extract from it.

According to the definition, “to believe” (something) implies accepting (something) and lack of proof/evidence (of that something), which also implies that a demonstration (of that something) cannot be made.

“To know” (something) implies observation (of that something), inquiry or information (about that something), or differently put, it implies familiarity (of that something) or, again differently said, experience (and understanding) with/of/in (that something).

We shall now investigate the definitions of the concepts implied by “to believe” and by “to know”.

“To accept” is defined as to “consent to receive or undertake (something offered)” or to “give an affirmative answer to (an offer or proposal); say yes to” ( or “to believe that something is true” (

“Proof” is defined as “evidence or argument establishing a fact or the truth of a statement” ( or as “a fact or piece of information that shows that something exists or is true” (

“Familiarity” (of something) is defined as “close acquaintance with or knowledge of something” ( or as “a good knowledge of something, or the fact that you know it so well” (

“Experience” is defined as “practical contact with and observation of facts or events” ( or as “(the process of getting) knowledge or skill from doing, seeing, or feeling things” (

From the definitions above an interesting aspect is to be found regarding our two codes.

By identifying the implications of each code, we can observe that “to believe” and “to know” differ not only in their composing elements and also their definitions, but that the two imply (or impose) different perspectives (of that something).

As we can observe, “to believe” implies a perspective of detachment/separation (from that something), which is supported by the fact that it cannot produce any “fact or piece of information that shows that that something exists or is true” which is basically part of its (“to believe”) definition.

On the other hand, “to know” implies a perspective of connection (to that something), which is supported by the fact that it implies “practical contact with” (that something) and familiarity (“close acquaintance with or knowledge of something”).

To Believe or To Know?

Let us now define what a sentence is.
A sentence is “a group of words, usually containing a verb, which expresses a thought in the form of a statement, question, instruction, or exclamation and starts with a capital letter when written” (

Now let’s consider the implications of a spoken or written sentence from a first person perspective.

When a person talks about himself (first person; ex. “I am doing this”) that person is making use of the alphabet and of the dictionary to form a sentence (or various sentences), which in these situations (first person) are actually statements or otherwise said, affirmations, meaning “to state something as true; from the verb “to affirm” (

Do “I believe” or do “I know”?

Thus we reach a very interesting point in our “story”.

Contrary to what we were made to think, “to believe” actually causes us to embrace a perspective of separation and detachment (and ultimately, duality).

On the other hand, by experiencing and by being “aware of (something) through observation, inquiry, or information”, we can “know”, thus embracing a perspective of connection (and ultimately, unity).

It is not my intention to elaborate on the concepts of duality and unity in this context, for the objective demonstration has been made and each reader now has the opportunity to reach his own conclusion in his own time on his own account. Also, I will not elaborate on the metaphysical proprieties of sounds and words in this article.

I will however propose a small “assignment”. Please read the “Nicene Creed”, the first prayer of the Christian Church amended in 325 AD.

To believe or to know?

There is no question.


by Radu Marin Deac

Radu Marin Deac is a free spirit.

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