10 votes

Where does belief come from for you?

Where are your beliefs and principles born from? What does it take for them to change? Do you have a conscious way that you manage and shape your own belief, or does it just happen? How much control over it do you think you have? Do you think that's different from the control others have?

12 comments

  1. CALICO
    Link
    I'm not really sure. Some combination of my unique life experience mixed with the knowledge in my brain, I assume. But if forced to point anything specific, I'm not sure I could. I think I might...

    I'm not really sure. Some combination of my unique life experience mixed with the knowledge in my brain, I assume. But if forced to point anything specific, I'm not sure I could.

    I think I might be a Consequentialist. I'm not phenomenally well read on philosophical school's of thought, but from a cursory reading it seems to apply.

    I first went down the road of ethical self-discovery with the Trolley Problem. For the unaware:

    You see a runaway trolley moving toward five tied-up (or otherwise incapacitated) people lying on the tracks. You are standing next to a lever that controls a switch. If you pull the lever, the trolley will be redirected onto a side track, and the five people on the main track will be saved. However, there is a single person lying on the side track. You have two options:

    1. Do nothing and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track.

    2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

    Which is the more ethical option?

    This was always really easy for me. Obviously option #2 is the most ethical, because it results in a net positive. More people survive compared to inaction. It doesn't matter to me, playing God and choosing who lives and who dies. Intervening, and choosing to kill one person is far preferable to the alternative.

    Imagine my surprise, with theoretical blood on my hands, when I found out how contentious this debate can become. That's when I began to learn just how different people can be.

    I work in government, and deal with long-term, strategic-level planning. That probably has done something to reinforce this belief, but I've held it in some form since I was in highschool. I have very little problem making decisions that some might find difficult, maybe reprehensible, at times. It's not always easy to deal with, because ethics are never so simple. But I can live with myself so long as I'm acting to the best of my knowledge and ability, and there's a desirable outcome. Now, what desirable means will surely differ between people. Is there a such thing as an objective positive outcome?
    Not likely. But I act within my ideals, which are a whole topic unto itself.

    Of course from here, the question naturally arises:
    what gives you the right to make these decisions?

    Good question.
    I don't know.

    I'm not elected, I don't have the mandate of the people. I was not appointed; not unless it counts that my employers chose me over somebody else. I'm certainly not high enough in station for anybody to recognize my name, and I only have so much autonomy within the positions I find myself in. It helps me to stay morally consistent by trying to restrict myself to positions compatible with my ideals, at least. But still, what right do I have? It's an interesting question.

    I suppose that my principles or ideals are not set in stone. But they've since been informed by data and experience. It wouldn't be impossible to change my mind, I value evidence. I could be convinced of something alternate, if presented with the right data. But as of yet, I haven't.

    4 votes
  2. [3]
    Whom
    Link
    My personal interest in this topic stems from how I've chosen to change the source of my conscious belief. While I'm fully aware that most of my beliefs are unconscious ideological gifts from the...

    My personal interest in this topic stems from how I've chosen to change the source of my conscious belief. While I'm fully aware that most of my beliefs are unconscious ideological gifts from the time and place I exist in and I don't make the mistake of thinking I can escape that, for a while now I've been trying to take control of the more consciously held ones. The move, which feels like a massive change, is going from belief being "convinced of a framework for a certain idea -> figure out my stances on individual concepts within that framework -> action" to "How I want the world to be -> figure out how to get there -> action". In other words, I work backwards from ways I want the world to be better.

    This is hard because while you can still put traditional frameworks for thought into action, your approach to them has to be thought through again from the beginning. Something is no longer the most right by simply being the most logically sound, but is the most right by leading to the best outcome. That's a hard shift and while I've made progress, it takes a whole lot of effort.

    It also makes it difficult to argue with those who come from a different perspective. Baked into my new way is the supremacy of how I would like the world to look, something which is largely intuitive and can't be argued past a certain point. At some point any argument becomes about core values, but it's much more explicit with how I do it and happens much more often.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      Where does "how I want the world to be" come from? What's the source of this concept in your moral framework? How is this different from being convinced of a framework for a certain idea? Isn't...

      Where does "how I want the world to be" come from? What's the source of this concept in your moral framework?

      Baked into my new way is the supremacy of how I would like the world to look, something which is largely intuitive and can't be argued past a certain point. At some point any argument becomes about core values

      How is this different from being convinced of a framework for a certain idea? Isn't "how I want the world to be" just a different framework? Either way, you just create a subjective personal way of looking at things, and then build on that to find ways to make it happen.

      1 vote
      1. Whom
        Link Parent
        So I think this same problem is baked into any framework. That answer might be "god" for some, or "nature", or maybe it just starts at an agreeable statement like "suffering is bad." All that shit...

        Where does "how I want the world to be" come from? What's the source of this concept in your moral framework?

        So I think this same problem is baked into any framework. That answer might be "god" for some, or "nature", or maybe it just starts at an agreeable statement like "suffering is bad." All that shit looks the same to me. Step 1 is always divorced from pure logic, and that's okay. It's a bit frustrating that recognition of that is not there across the board, but there's nothing wrong with that necessary leap. Once I got there, I wondered why it should stop at that. Why does it have to be only a single simple principle like "suffering is bad"? If step 1 is invented, it might as well be the totality of the unshakable core of what's already within me. Picking at pieces of that is the same shit, just trying to obscure the process.

        In my mind, this lets me accept the limitations of reason. I also had eperiences going through what I believed to be the most correct where I landed at conclusions which I didn't like. Beliefs that allowed for or encouraged things which I thought were terrible. So my options were to accept that and do / support things which conflicted with my gut, bullshit my way through and find a way to convince myself I really believed something else more, or just accept that where I'm starting from is arbitrary no matter what and do my best to work with that.

        Logic, reason, and formal frameworks to me are now just the connective tissue between those starting assumptions and more complex beliefs, as well as betweeen those beliefs and action. I have to decide what the input is myself, though.

        How is this different from being convinced of a framework for a certain idea? Isn't "how I want the world to be" just a different framework? Either way, you just create a subjective personal way of looking at things, and then build on that to find ways to make it happen.

        Well, my desire to move in this direction didn't come from a disdain for moral frameworks or anything like that. If it sounds more like just another framework to you, that's fine. It could probably be characterized as a framework that's built from the foundation of intuition for the reasons explained above. Like I said before, it's plenty compatible with existing approaches, I just enter it differently than I used to. I don't think "are the premises at the heart of this framework true? does its conclusions follow from them?" and work my way through that way. Instead, I think "does this support my desired outcome? if I work backwards, can I construct a path to action?"

        I realize I'm arguing both that it's the same as other approaches because any way runs into the same problem but also that it's meaningfully different. I think that what I'm doing is both more true to how beliefs actually function and avoids getting tangled up in conflicts which arise a thousand layers abstracted from the important stuff.

        Also you haven't gone this direction, but just to be safe, I'm going to ask that this doesn't turn into an interrogation or debate. I'm interested in sharing and learning what other approaches people have, but I'd rather not have to be all defensive. I probably already am, and that's my fault :P

        2 votes
  3. [5]
    Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    Reading your title and your post, I assumed you meant philosophical and/or epistemological beliefs, like why the universe exists, whether there's a god, what is and is not real, and such things....

    Reading your title and your post, I assumed you meant philosophical and/or epistemological beliefs, like why the universe exists, whether there's a god, what is and is not real, and such things.

    Reading your comment, you appear to be talking about political beliefs. Anything which starts with "How I want the world to be" is obviously not going to be a belief about the world as it is.

    So, is this post asking people about their philosophical beliefs or their political beliefs?

    2 votes
    1. [4]
      Whom
      Link Parent
      I actually didn't have political beliefs in mind, I was thinking more about morality and ethics. Mine extends into both, but whatever anyone is more interested in talking about works.

      I actually didn't have political beliefs in mind, I was thinking more about morality and ethics. Mine extends into both, but whatever anyone is more interested in talking about works.

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        I notice that someone else has answered the question of where their philosophical belief comes from. Are you okay if I edit the title of this post to "Where does your moral belief come from?"

        I notice that someone else has answered the question of where their philosophical belief comes from.

        Are you okay if I edit the title of this post to "Where does your moral belief come from?"

        1. [2]
          Whom
          Link Parent
          Hmm I don't know if it's super necessary to limit it, but I don't mind. If it's confusing, then you might as well.

          Hmm I don't know if it's super necessary to limit it, but I don't mind. If it's confusing, then you might as well.

          1 vote
          1. Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            In that case, I'm going to remove the "philosophy" tag you applied - because that's part of why I assumed you were asking about philosophical beliefs. If you don't want to limit your question to...

            In that case, I'm going to remove the "philosophy" tag you applied - because that's part of why I assumed you were asking about philosophical beliefs. If you don't want to limit your question to philosophy, I'll remove that tag.

  4. Akir
    Link
    I don't follow any specific belief or philosophy, instead choosing to blend and borrow heavily from many sources. I grew up with liars, drunks, and psychopaths, so I try to find objective truths...

    I don't follow any specific belief or philosophy, instead choosing to blend and borrow heavily from many sources. I grew up with liars, drunks, and psychopaths, so I try to find objective truths whenever I can (which is somewhat ironic considering I'm skeptical of the idea of objective reality). When it comes to philosophy in particular, it seems like every branch has some degree of the truth in it, so I think it is wise to understand them all. Only being able to see things in one way will always result in trouble eventually.

    In terms of what I do with my life - what actions I take - I am very strongly utilitarian. Happiness, I believe, is one of the most important parts of life, even if the meaning of the word is subject to change. I also believe strongly in the value of altrusim, because sometimes the smallest gestures can have the greatest affect on a person. Altruism, however, is something I find very difficult to practice because I find it hard to blindly trust people. At the same time, I think that all people are fundamentally linked, so it's very important for society to help everyone in any way it can.

    Egalitarianism is also a very important concept for me; I think that everyone should have the same social status and we should not have rich people making the decisions for everyone like they so often are. The optimist in me thinks we should have Socialism, the pessimist says it will never work, and there's a third voice somewhere saying that we can probably still achieve an egalitarian paradise if we can pass the right laws and regulations.

    In terms of what I think I should be, I turn to existentialism. I used to be interested in psychology and philosophy when I was younger, and started reading Jung and Nietzsche. Existentialism feels like it's something that has been built on top of the sum of human experience. People today are far too concerned about what they should be and are much less interested in finding out who they already are, and that is why it seems like everyone is going through an identity crisis right now. It feels like if you handed these people a quick primer on existentialism, they would be able to find their way out of the holes they have dug themselves in.

    2 votes
  5. Wes
    Link
    My way of thinking in inspired largely by the skeptical movement. It emphasizes empiricism and the scientific method. It also focuses on learning how to sidestep the pitfalls of logical fallacies,...

    My way of thinking in inspired largely by the skeptical movement. It emphasizes empiricism and the scientific method. It also focuses on learning how to sidestep the pitfalls of logical fallacies, and knowing how to interpret what information is actually real.

    I believe skepticism is becoming increasingly important in the digital age, where misinformation can spread extremely quickly online.

    1 vote
  6. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    I follow a religion called Spiritism. I consider it a sensible and organized set of morals. I have only minimal disagreements with it. Besides that, my parents are highly ethical lefties and gave...

    I follow a religion called Spiritism. I consider it a sensible and organized set of morals. I have only minimal disagreements with it.

    Besides that, my parents are highly ethical lefties and gave me a firm ground in that regard.

    Descartes and St. Thomas Aquinas were also great influences.

    1 vote