Archive for the ‘ Philosophy ’ Category

Why Do We Believe what We Believe?

If you do not know why you believe what you believe, then your beliefs are opinions grounded in emotion.  And one person’s opinion grounded in emotion is just as good as the next person’s.  And if everybody’s opinion is just as good as the next, then you can’t really say things like, “This is the way the world should work,” or, “This is what you ought to be doing,” or, “You should not be doing that.”.

Almost everybody argues with other people over the things that they believe, whether or not they know why they believe those things. If you think you do know why you believe what you believe, please play the How-Why-What game and make sure. Once you know what you believe and why you believe that it is true, you can actually make a case to other people who also want to believe what is true.

But if you don’t take the time to understand why you believe what you believe yourself, it doesn’t make much sense to try to get other people to believe what you believe—that is just being bossy and intrusive.

Furthermore, if you use your beliefs to advocate the use of force on other people, and you don’t know why you believe what you believe, then you flirt with evil.

How Why What?

Here is a mental exercise.  Consider any assertion that you believe is true.  It doesn’t matter what you pick.  Now form a “how”, “why”, or “what” question from this assertion that essentially asks “How did you come to this conclusion?”  And from the answer you present yourself, ask another “how” or “why” question.  And from that response do the same.  Keep doing it until you get stuck.  Here is an example:
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