Hold come what may  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Hold come what may is a phrase popularized by logician Willard Van Orman Quine. Beliefs that are "held come what may" are beliefs one is unwilling to give up, regardless of any evidence with which one might be presented. Quine held (on a perhaps simplistic construal) that there are no beliefs that one ought to hold come what may—in other words, that all beliefs are rationally revisable ("no statement is immune to revision"), and compared this to the simplification of quantum mechanics.

Many philosophers argue to the contrary, believing that, for example, the laws of thought cannot be revised and may be "held come what may". Quine believed that all beliefs are linked by a web of beliefs, in which a belief is linked to another belief by supporting relations, but if one belief is found untrue, there is ground to find the linked beliefs also untrue.

A closely related concept is hold more stubbornly at least, also popularized by Quine. Some beliefs may be more useful than others, or may be implied by a large number of beliefs. Examples might be laws of logic, or the belief in an external world of physical objects. Altering such central portions of the web of beliefs would have immense, ramifying consequences, and affect many other beliefs. It is better to alter auxiliary beliefs around the edges of the web of beliefs (considered to be sense beliefs, rather than main beliefs) in the face of new evidence unfriendly to one's central principles. Thus, while one might agree that there is no belief one can hold come what may, there are some for which there is ample practical ground to "hold more stubbornly at least".




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hold come what may" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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