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The Birth of Modern Belief$
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Ethan H. Shagan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174747

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174747.001.0001

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Belief in the Human

Belief in the Human

(p.250) Chapter Seven Belief in the Human
The Birth of Modern Belief

Ethan H. Shagan

Princeton University Press

This chapter cites Samuel Taylor Coleridge's concept of the “willing suspension of disbelief” in order to describe the timeless process by which human beings believe in their own creations. As seen before, Europeans influenced by new ideas in the seventeenth century were freed to believe in spiritual objects in much the same way they believed in mundane ones, as acts of sovereign judgment. With the category so perforated, there was no intrinsic reason why belief had to remain bound to objects judged “true” in a transcendent or universal sense; it might also alight upon objects judged true in more provisional or instrumental ways. Crucially, this included the social world: ephemeral human creations, the ideas and things that humans themselves make.

Keywords:   belief, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, spiritual objects, human creations, human beings, social world

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