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How Can We Distinguish Between Knowledge, Belief and Opinion?

On the face of it, knowledge or a belief and even an opinion looks a very argumentative word, isn’t it? You can actually build a theoretical or technical explanation of these.

There is no literal word meaning and a dictionary meaning would also not really suffice the meaning of this concept.

So, how do we explain this phenomenon or terminologies, how do the meanings differ and how do they converge?

Let’s understand a little more about knowledge, belief, and opinion.

1. What is Knowledge?

So let’s begin with what we understand knowledge is, we can say that knowledge is basically data or information that is backed up by logic.

There is a definitive meaning to it and there is evidence and experience to support it. Knowledge is what you built upon by understanding the numbers, inferences, and facts about a subject or a topic.

How Can We Distinguish Between Knowledge, Belief and Opinion?
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Now we have to understand the fact that knowledge here does not just refer to bookish information that we acquire over years through education or research or observation it is also the knowledge that we acquire by doing things or having go through certain circumstances.

We can also use an example of propositional knowledge, which implies the knowledge or the interpretations that we get from religious literatures like The Bhagavad Geeta, The Bible, and The Quran.

It is basically a spiritual journey that is curated in a form of a long story that revolves around family, war, and life in between.

How Can We Distinguish Between Knowledge, Belief and Opinion?
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It is considered eternal knowledge and has stayed with us for more than 5000 years, it is something we use to idealize our behavior and something that we use as a reference to how we should operate in different problems in life.

2. What is Belief?

A belief in very literal terms just means anything that you can believe in or anything that you believe in.

It does not necessarily need to be backed by logic, reasoning, or even evidence; it is basically a person’s acceptance of a particular thing or activity.

A lot of factors come into play for making a person believe in a particular thought these can be cultural or social influences, religious inclination, the philosophical views that one follows, and the biggest one being their own physical experiences.

How Can We Distinguish Between Knowledge, Belief and Opinion?
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The part that is to be noted about a belief is that it carries a high degree of certitude as well, it is as good as a conviction for the person who holds that belief because they believe in it so much that even without knowing the truth behind and without having any clarity if that information is true or not they are ready to alter their decisions based on their beliefs.

So, the strength or the power of a belief is a very subjective and contextual thing to comment upon and varies from person to person, topic to topic.

If we continue the example of propositional knowledge from above, we can further extend it here to have an understanding that a belief is actually a proposition that is believed to be true, although if it is true then it is knowledge, if it is not true then it is an opinion.

Beliefs can be explained with an example of how and why festivals are celebrated. So, if people celebrate the festival of Dusshera throughout the country, then it signifies that it is a day that signifies the victory of good over bad.

How Can We Distinguish Between Knowledge, Belief and Opinion?
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It tells how we can and should fight with the problems and overcome our obstacles to achieve the ultimate victory.

These are all beliefs obviously we do not know as this is not constant or verifiable, but the conviction in this belief is so strong that it is still a very huge festival.

3. What is Opinion?

Opinion is the easiest of all the three, opinion is just a view or a personal thinking about something, an issue, an activity, or even a human.

A judgment that a person derives by interaction with a new object or person. The noteworthy part of an opinion is that unlike the other two, it is not merely a reflection of what the activity, or object of human is under observation.

How Can We Distinguish Between Knowledge, Belief and Opinion?
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It is also a reflection of the person who builds that opinion, so if a person has an opinion it is possible that it is purely based on the values, preferences, and feelings of that individual. It blossoms out of the values, emotions, and biases that a person carries.

Their level of certitude is not large, these are more about likes or preferences. And what a person likes or dislikes is a very subjective process and conclusion, it can be easily built and even broken down.

Although it is just an inclination towards one side its impact on an individual can be extreme, as people are ready to alter their decisions based upon their opinions.

How Can We Distinguish Between Knowledge, Belief and Opinion?
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If we extend the example stated above then we can come to an understanding that opinions are what you think about a particular belief, or what is your inclination towards a piece of knowledge.

It does not hold a lot of significance and neither can it be verified nor objected.

4. Final Thoughts

Knowledge opinion and belief as we have seen now are basically terms that signify something along the same lines but with various factors which are different for different understandings.

To conclude our understanding we can say that knowledge is more of verifiable information backed by logic or meaning.

Beliefs are knowledge that can not be verified but has people strongly absorbed in it, these usually hold significance in their lives.

Opinions are just a person’s likes or dislikes, these are very versatile and subjective, constantly changing as well.

Last Updated on July 6, 2023 by Ankita Bose

Author

Anushree Khandelwal
  1. The difference between the three are very well defined. Generally people get confused among these three as they are unable to properly define them. But in this article everything including the examples are also well explained. I really loved the article!

  2. This article provides valuable insights into the nature of beliefs, emphasizing their strong connection to personal conviction. The analogy of beliefs being propositions adds depth, drawing a parallel to propositional knowledge. The example of celebrating festivals, like Dusshera, highlights how beliefs can shape cultural practices, even though the truth may not be objectively verifiable. The distinction between belief, knowledge, and opinion is clearly outlined, making it an informative read for understanding the subjective and contextual aspects of our convictions.

  3. Topic you have selected is great. Knowledge is the most powerful weapon in these days. Knowledge is the core of belief and opinion. But belief and opinion also goes side by side. Really impressive article.

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  4. The article adeptly dissects the nuanced differences between knowledge, belief, and opinion. It succinctly defines knowledge as information rooted in logic and evidence, extending to experiential and propositional realms. Belief, portrayed as a subjective acceptance often devoid of empirical support, is effectively linked to certitude and conviction. Opinion, the most subjective of the trio, is presented as a reflection of individual values and preferences with a notable impact on decision-making. The final thoughts provide a concise yet comprehensive summary, encapsulating the essence of these concepts and their contextual variations.

  5. I think figuring out the difference between knowing things, believing in them, and having opinions is really interesting. It’s important to understand these ideas clearly and stay open to different views. Learning more about this helps us see things from different angles and talk about them better. Great job to the writer for explaining this important part of talking and thinking.

  6. Very well explanation about knowledge , belief and opinion all these three are different than each other and the points which explains about all the three are very justifying in nature . Like about knowledge it should backed up with the logical terms and opinion is nothing but your perspective belief which don’t have any logical reasoning it just a strong emotion well explanation in the article .

  7. Very well explanation about knowledge , belief and opinion all these three are different than each other and the points which explains about all the three are very justifying in nature . Like about knowledge it should backed up with the logical terms and opinion is nothing but your perspective belief which don’t have any logical reasoning it just a strong emotion well explanation in the article .

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