More on the emotion of belief

by John MacBeath Watkins

I've been working on a long essay, working title, The Structure of Thought, the Emotion of Belief, and the Truth We Know Alone.  Just thought I'd excerpt a couple paragraphs:

My own view is that truth is a word we use to describe that which we believe without question. Belief is an emotion akin to love, which is why Truth and Beauty are so often mentioned together. The question, therefore, is how we should form our beliefs? Different cultures at different times have used different methods. In the end, the searcher for truth may not be objective, but reality is, by definition; what could be more objective than the object we wish to describe? And when a theory is not faithful to reality, the scales fall from our eyes and we no longer desire to embrace it. Or perhaps I should say, we should no longer desire to embrace it.

Many people when faced with facts that contradict their beliefs experience backfire, that is, they end up holding their false belief more strongly in reaction to what they perceive as an attack on them. If you view belief as an emotion, this is understandable. It's as if you told them their lover was unfaithful, and they responded by saying "take that back!"


  1. I'm reading The Alphabet Verses the Goddess, about how literacy changed the way we think, the way we precieve things. Although I'm not convinced that his premis is true, that literacy caused the downfall of the goddess and caused a period of mysogeny in every culture it entered, I CAN see how how writing things down using abstract symbols changed the way we think.

  2. According to one of the dialogues Plato wrote, Socrates worried that writing would change teaching. No longer would a philosopher pass his knowledge to a soul of the right sort, instead any fool could read it. Worked out okay, didn't it? One thing this does is put more minds in touch with each other. I wrote about it here, where any fool could read it:
    That will be part of the longer essay I'm working on.


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