I hold a rather non-common-sense understanding of “belief“. My view is not complex or technical, but easily seen with only a little introspection. Actually, I’d guess that my view is largely shared by most academic psychologists and neuroscientists.
The following principles are what make my view of “belief” a bit counter-intuitive:
- We can (and do) simultaneously hold contrary beliefs.
- Our beliefs are not an on-or-off phenomena. Beliefs come in different valences (strengths).
- Since we hold many contrary beliefs, the belief we hold at any moment is the result of the complex interaction of the valence (strengths) of those beliefs as triggered by that moment’s environmental influences.
- Once we have held a belief (or a tendency) it rarely disappears but instead, it just gets weaker or goes dormant until the right factors stimulate it to give it some strength.
- Many beliefs do not serve as cognitive maps of reality. Many beliefs are not truth-statements concerning a person’s cosmology.
Instead, these beliefs may serve as:
(a) signals/flags/banners to others to convey belonging(or allegiance)
(b) manipulations to acquire some end. Eg: “Maam, I am a Christian tonight” and see my post “Toothfairy”
Truth is easily sacrificed in these cases. And often, the “believer” is not even aware that their mind is taking such a tack.
This post is simply to illustrate #2 above: our beliefs span a spectrum of strengths and are rarely fully just on or off — even when we feel we reject or embrace a particular belief. Also, the strength of these beliefs slide of the spectrum depending on our circumstances (our selves). Below is a key to the individual punctuation marks.
|Decreasing Degrees of:|
|Disbelief / Skepticism||Belief / Embrace|
My Related Posts:
- Traffic Light Epistemology: a similar attempt to illustrate my thoughts on this.
- Beliefs as Circuit Components : Using the analogy of electronics to illustrate the dynamic aspect and function (vs. “truth”) function of beliefs.
- Beliefs, What are they: A visual model of beliefs, person, brain, society
- Many-Selves, No-Self : Buddhists speak of “No-Self”, but I think “Many-Selves” more accurately explains the phenomena while honoring the Buddhist implication.
- Your Inner Theist: Due to Many Selves, our minds hold many contrary beliefs so that even Atheists can have a Theist side.