Spinoza defines the first kind of knowledge as the lowest or most inadequate kind. It is also the natural way humans have knowledge.

Humans can think about possible states of the world without believing in them, an important capacity for high-level cognition.

Here we use fMRI and a novel “shell game” task to test two competing theories about the nature of belief and its neural basis.

According to the Cartesian theory, information is first understood, then assessed for veracity, and ultimately encoded as either believed or not believed. According to the Spinozan theory, comprehension entails belief by default, such that understanding without believing requires an additional process of “unbelieving”. […]

findings are consistent with a version of the Spinozan theory whereby unbelieving is an inhibitory control process.

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