XAT 2018 Question 4


Please read the passage below and answer the questions that follow:

Rene Descartes’ assertion that ideas may be held true with certainty if they are “clear and distinct” provides the context for Peirce’s title, “How to Make Our Ideas Clear.” Peirce argued that an idea may seem clear if it is familiar. Distinctness depends on having good definitions, and while definitions are desirable they do not yield any new knowledge or certainty of the truth of empirical propositions. Peirce argues that thought needs more than a sense of clarity; it also needs a method for making ideas clear. Once we have made an idea clear, then we can begin the task of determining its truth. The method that Peirce offers came to be known as the pragmatic method and the epistemology on which it depends is pragmatism. Peirce rejected Descartes’ method of doubt. We cannot doubt something, for the sake of method, that we do not doubt in fact. In a later essay, he would state as his rule “Dismiss make-believes.” This refers to Descartes’ method of doubting things, in the safety of his study, such things as the existence of the material world, which he did not doubt when he went out on the street. Peirce proposed that a philosophical investigation can begin from only one state of mind, namely, the state of mind in which we find ourselves when we begin. If any of us examines our state of mind, we find two kinds of thoughts: beliefs and doubts. Peirce had presented the interaction of doubt and belief in an earlier essay “The Fixation of Belief”.

Beliefs and doubts are distinct. Beliefs consist of states of mind in which we would make a statement; doubts are states in which we would ask a question. We experience a doubt as a sense of uneasiness and hesitation. Doubt serves as an irritant that causes us to appease it by answering a question and thereby fixing a belief and putting the mind to rest on that issue. A common example of a doubt would be arriving in an unfamiliar city and not being sure of the location of our destination address in relation to our present location. We overcome this doubt and fix a belief by getting the directions. Once we achieve a belief, we can take the necessary action to reach our destination. Peirce defines a belief subjectively as something of which we are aware and which appeases the doubt. Objectively, a belief is a rule of action. The whole purpose of thought consists in overcoming a doubt and attaining a belief. Peirce acknowledges that some people like to think about things or argue about them without caring to find a true belief, but he asserts that such dilettantism does not constitute thought. The beliefs that we hold determine how we will act. If we believe, rightly or wrongly, that the building that we are trying to reach sits one block to our north, we will walk in that direction. We have beliefs about matters of fact, near and far. For example, we believe in the real objects in front of us and we believe generally accepted historical statements. We also believe in relations of ideas such as that seven and five equal twelve. In addition to these we have many beliefs about science, politics, economics, religion and so on. Some of our beliefs may be false since we are capable of error. To believe something means to think that it is true.

Question 4

According to Peirce, for a particular thought, which of the following statements will be correct?


Refer to the lines 5 and 6 of paragraph 2 "Peirce defines a belief subjectively as something of which we are aware and which appeases the doubt." From this it can be inferred that a doubt may lead to a belief. The word "subjectively" suggests that a doubt may lead to a belief. Hence it cannot be said categorically that a doubt always leads to a belief.

Create a FREE account and get:

  • All Quant Formulas and shortcuts PDF
  • XAT previous papers with solutions PDF
  • XAT Trial Classes for FREE


    Boost your Prep!

    Download App