Incorrigibility is the undeniable property of a belief-thing - by virtue of that thing *being* a belief. We have Rene Descartes to thank for this idea, or at least its popularity. This idea is an extension of the famous cogito argument - whatever I am thinking, because I am thinking it, must be. Of course this is a little simplistic, but it works for many, many examples, the most salient one being:

I think/believe I am in pain.
Therefore I must be in pain.
Prove me wrong.

(Yes, Yes, Yes, we could go on and on talking about this little gem - it leads naturally into discussions about phenomenology, epistemology, solipsism, existentialism and so and so forth. For now, lets just move on . . .)

Descartes as much as he doubted himself used this principal of incorrigibility very often in is several proofs for the existence of God -- usually with the corollary that you can trust your beliefs and thoughts as long as they are composed in a "clear and distinct"** mind. His most simple proof uses the idea of incorrigibility like this:

Personally, it seems that incorrigibilty could easily be the justification for any faith or any belief. It simply says that what is personal is undeniable - and that whether there is a God, or gods, or isn't a God or gods is really up to you. Which is kinda cool.


** Yes, Houston, we have a problem. Since Descartes, western philosophy has been trying to pin down exactly what "clear" and "distinct" are. It hasn't gone that well.

Whilst you spurn me,

I stare sadly beyond you,

wondering how such circumstances could be altered.

I suppose it is not a coincidence

that potent concoctions to induce love

are mentioned only in fiction;

likewise, the existence of Cupid is

only wishful thinking.

Love is an entity that cannot be

artificially brought about,

and so by many it is

exalted,

praised,

damned,

given up on.

In*cor`ri*gi*bil"i*ty (?), n. [Cf. F. incorrigibilit'e.]

The state or quality of being incorrigible.

The ingratitude, the incorrigibility, the strange perverseness . . . of mankind. Barrow.

 

© Webster 1913.

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