Eric Mandelbaum F'11, F'09

Eric  Mandelbaum
Associate Professor
City University of New York, Baruch College

ACLS New Faculty Fellows Program 2011
New Faculty Fellow
Yale University
PhD, Philosophy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill appointed in Philosophy at Yale University

Dissertation: "The Architecture of Belief: An Essay on the Unbearable Automaticity of Believing"

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2009
Doctoral Candidate
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Architecture of Belief

The thesis that one can contemplate an idea before believing it is so ubiquitous that it is rarely even stated as an assumption. This dissertation argues that this thesis is false and instead posits that forming a belief is an effortless and automatic endeavor that occurs anytime an idea is encountered, while rejecting a belief is an active and effortful endeavor that can only occur after an initial acceptance of that belief. The central hypothesis of the dissertation is that whenever a thought is accessed in one’s mind, that thought is believed. This hypothesis is used to explain both the workings of pretense and the efficacy of propaganda. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of how this view on pretense and propaganda relates to current epistemological debates pertaining to rationality.