By Henry Habberley Price
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Additional resources for Belief (Muirhead Library of Philosophy)
Sometimes we speak as if there were. For otherwise, what point could there be in calling other facts empirical? We do often speak of empirical facts, from which it would seem to follow that there are also facts which are non-empirical, or at any rate that there might be. If not, what could empirical facts be contrasted with, and what point could there be in applying the word 'empirical' to facts at all? g. mathematical facts or logical facts)? There is no doubt that it does. Of course we might be reluctant to say 'it is not a fact that 7 X 7 = 49', because this might suggest that the proposition 7 X 7 = 49 is false.
If all sense data are objects of knowledge by acquaintance in the ordinary everyday sense, it should be possible to familiarize oneself with every sense datum that one experiences, whereas in fact is it possible only in a few exceptional cases. The particulars which are objects of knowledge by acquaintance, in the ordinary sense of the term, have another important characteristic which sense data lack, and this too is connected with duration. Such existent entities as Mr Jones or Scotland or the oak tree at the cross-roads can not only be encountered, they can be encountered again after an interval, and recognized to be the same entities as they were before.
The most that someone else can do is to tell him what to look for. ') But though the factor of first-handness is there, the factor of familiarization is absent. The situation, then, is much the same as it is in the doctrine that sense data are known by acquaintance. The contents of our own minds, or at least those contents which are in any sense directly introspectible, are l)rief events rather than persisting entities. A few of them may lat>t long enough for us to become familiar with them (perhaps VIe should then be inclined to call them 'mental states' rather than 'mental events').