On Belief; A Discussion

Thursday, 6/21/18, 6:30PM

We spoke last week on belief. The following is a brief recapitulation of what we discussed. Hopefully I’ve accurately restated various arguments and provided them with their best justifications; if not, feel free to reach out at grplansing@gmail.com to request an adjustment. Interjections of comments are marked within em dashes.

The intent of these written follow-ups is to connect a few key statements from our conversations to previous philosophical work directly. For those interested, it will help place current thought within the history of philosophy and connect you with further resources that will clarify/refute thoughts. Let me know if it is helpful/not, or if the format should be adjusted. Sorry that this summary is more stream-of-consciousness style than those previous. __ Beliefs are an extension of our desire for certainty. They emerge out of our minds cataloguing events to predict future results. As such, beliefs are learned over time. Beliefs are stories that we continue to tell ourselves.

  • Are beliefs mechanical reactions? Conscious decisions? Do we choose to believe something, or fall into it naturally? Moreover, if proven wrong, can we continue to believe something? How to maintain belief without evidence, or with respect to impossibilities.
  • How reliable are our beliefs? Do we change how willing we are to believe after realizing the average correctness of our beliefs, perhaps?

Knowledge is justified true belief. Has to be trusted. Beliefs aren’t necessarily true, however. How do we select beliefs than, if not on their truth? Relative to one another? Where is the minimum perceived truth for believing something? How does that differ across individuals?

A member brought in a list of examples for why a person would believe a statement. Largely, they depended on the credibility of the source, or whether or not the statement was an extension (or coherent with) what was already known. Are beliefs purely subjective? Unique? If unique, how do we share beliefs? Does anyone believe the exact same thing as another person?

Belief was argued to emerge first before evidence. If this is true, why seek proof at all? Mere confirmation/validation of self-perception? We currently live in a world with practically unlimited information that can justify any possible belief. Just as information can be created without any relation to reality, so to can beliefs.

  • Does our behavior match our beliefs all the time?
  • Does action require belief, i.e. if I do x, y will happen? What about curious children?
  • How do beliefs limit our thinking?

    Beliefs bind you when they cut off the flow of your curiousity (The Logic of Faith 80).

Written on June 24, 2018