[Question] Do we automatically accept propositions?

Epistemic Status: Exploratory (I’m searching for an expert or someone who has studied and rigorously investigated these claims/​essays, as I intend to, but time doesn’t permit me now)

16 years ago, Eliezer asked “Do we Believe Everything we’re told?

This was with respect to the Spinozan Model of the mind.

Spinoza suggested that we first passively accept a proposition in the course of comprehending it, and only afterward actively disbelieve propositions which are rejected by consideration.

My question I’d like to pose is, has anyone deeply investigated this? Cognitive Science is of interest to me, but I am not as educated as many in this field.

I’d like to call attention to work done by Eric Mandelbaum of CUNY[1].

Mandelbaum has investigated the Spinozan Model further and written multiple essays on it.

I want to reach out to the lesswrong community to see if anyone has deeply investigated the claim and research behind this paper Thinking is Believing, published in 2014. [2]

This idea of the Spinozan model has been on my mind for months, and upon taking an Intro to Philosophy of Cognitive Science class, I’ve wanted to dive into it more.

What’s stopping me is lack of trust in my ability, and other projects going on.
I’ve been debating asking, but I figured I would put this out there to the community and hope I hear back.

The importance:
IF we automatically accept propositions AND we are truth seeking, THEN we ought to guard our mind from likely falsehoods.

  1. ^

    Mandelbaum was a researcher at FHI in the past (date not found)

  2. ^


    The idea that people can entertain propositions without believing them is widespread, intuitive, and most probably false. The main goal of this essay is to argue against the claim that people can entertain a proposition without believing it. Evidence is presented demonstrating that we cannot withhold assent from any proposition we happen to consider. A model of belief fixation is then sketched and used to explain hitherto disparate, recalcitrant and somewhat mysterious psychological phenomena. The proposed model is one where beliefs are the automatic output of a computationally null belief acquisition reflex. In short, the model holds that the mere activation of a mentally represented truth apt proposition leads to immediately believing it. The essay concludes by considering some consequences that the proposed model of belief acquisition has for our concept of rationality.