Let us say that someone believes in God, and acts in accordance with this belief. Ordinarily, one thinks of this as "blind faith". However, in my case, the belief is reinforced by what I call "secondary knowledge", such as feelings of peace, joy and an "awareness" of God's presence. I may not know that God exists, in the sense of mathematical certainty, but I do know that I'm a different person today than I was yesterday, and therefore I do have certainty (in a limited sense), albeit indirectly.

Is there a technical term for this kind of secondary knowledge that reinforces the primary belief? I want to do some reading on this, but don't know where to start.

  • 1
    If your question is specifically about Christian faith, you might try the Christianity Stack Exchange forum instead. Nov 28, 2013 at 2:17
  • The belief is about God, not about feelings. The feelings in this case are the (secondary) sources of such belief, not the belief itself. Instead of "secondary knowledge", you could more aptly write "sources of secondary knowledge".
    – DBK
    Feb 26, 2014 at 4:43
  • "I do know that I'm a different person today than I was yesterday and therefore I do have certainty…": I think you would agree that "therefore" is not meant in a logical sense, but in terms of a psychological nexus. I can see the psychological nexus between "awareness of God" to "belief in God'S existence", but what has perception that "I'm a different person today than I was yesterday" got to do with it?
    – DBK
    Feb 26, 2014 at 4:54
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    Lastly, what does "certainty (in a limited sense)" mean? It sound a bit like a contradictio in terminis. Also, you want to distinguish this kind of certainty from "mathematical certainty", yet you would argue that this 'limited certainty' is not merely subjective, but an intersubjective phenomenon. In this respect I don't see the difference wrt what you call "mathematical certainty".
    – DBK
    Feb 26, 2014 at 5:05

3 Answers 3


I think this is "Circumstantial Evidence"


you are infering from your sense of peace that a God is involved.


In psychology, it's called positive reinforcement.

Believing in god relieves people of thinking about disturbing matters, like the meaning of life, why do the universe exist, the afterlife, free will, etc. If this makes you feel more relaxed and peaceful, which is not "secondary knowledge" but outcomes of your belief, it is logical that you will positively reinforce it.

  • You have an "outsiders" view of what I'm talking about. I think some Christian philosopher might have mentioned what I'm referring to. But thanks nevertheless.
    – Joebevo
    Nov 27, 2013 at 11:46
  • @Joebevo Maybe i expressed myself too roughly, i apologize if i somehow offended you.
    – Natxo
    Nov 27, 2013 at 14:16
  • Not at all :) I was just being matter-of-fact.
    – Joebevo
    Nov 27, 2013 at 16:28

You brought up a very worthy topic by sharing of that experience which has been subject of much discussion among philosophers of Illumanationist tradition.

Those feelings are regarded in Illuminationist and indian philosophies as indications of an awakened spiritual self or spiritual illumination. It is only through illumination from above that real knowledge of truth is attained, which is a knowledge acquired by an internal unity with the object of knowledge rather than logical/conceptual understanding. It is also a knowledge that purifies man's ego from immoral sentiments and illnesses or requires them as prerequisite. At its higher development phases, it can produce feelings of internal expansion, restlessness and love yet which that still stabilize and tranquilizes man against external difficulties, mental anxieties and doubt. World-renowned Persian sufi poets such as Hafiz and Rumi (Molavi) composed their mystical poems in such states of spiritual ecstasy.

Yoga practices are also meant to awaken these similar spiritual emotions within human self. The feelings are attributed to a transcendental universal force dormant in all human beings, the Kundalini.

This phenomena has been studied or highlighted as a form of Divinely-aided knowledge by the philosophers of the Illuminationist tradition, such as Plotinus and Saint Augustine. Al-Farabi the 10th century persian muslim philosopher, for the first time, integrated this theory of knowledge into his Aristotelian metaphysics. He argued that all forms of philosophical knowledge emanate from a supernatural being that he named "the Agent Intellect" ("Active -" and "Creative Intellect" are other translation variations). He established parallels between this spiritual source and the Gabriel, an archangel that is believed to inspire Prophets.

The belief in the Active Intellect was reserved by later philosophers of the Peripatetic tradition such as Avicenna. But due to the conceptual/logical method of Peripatetic philosophy, the knowledge granted by the Agent Intellect is often viewed as conceptual and theoretical rather than spiritual.

Suhrewardi a 12th century persian philosopher reconstructed the Illuminationist philosophy into an emanationist cosmology expressed in metaphorical language where beings are compared to beams of light all emanating from a Light of Lights (God). To realize the realm of lights or, higher, the Light of Lights (God), man should liberate itself from the shackles of dim, mundane, material world. Here too, effective knowledge is attained through internal realization of heavenly lights rather than a mere conceptual understanding of them.

Much later in 16th century, the genius Mulla Sadra (Sadr ul-Mote'allehin) the latest most prominent Persian mystic and philosopher, based on his innovative ontological theory that existence is a gradient of most intense level to the least intense level, and that knowledge emanates from the intense levels of existence hierarchy (namely the realm of incorporeal intellects), proved that it is a unity (rather than a mere connection) by the object of knowledge (the Active Intellect) that produces spiritual enlightenment, which is superior to conceptual knowledge which is yielded through only a remote connection with the Active Intellect. Based on his existentially gradient cosmology, the feelings associated with such enlightenment are explained by the higher intensity of it compared to the conceptual/logical knowledge. (A comparative study of Suhrewardi and Mulla Sadra's theory of Knowledge available here)

And with respect to your experience, the feeling of peace and joy indicates that your mere "belief" in God has found its corresponding reference point in heavens through an actual unity with the object of faith.

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