[Fwd: Re: virus: Definition of Belief]

Ken Pantheists (kenpan@axionet.com)
Wed, 17 Apr 1996 03:59:36 +0000

Reed Garrett Konsler wrote:
> Given our current level of technology a thought is observable only to the
> individual within whom the thought is generated.

We have a technology that allows us to observe thought it's called
language :)

However, a thought is
> understood to be a physical thing (though exactly what we are as yet
> unsure) and is therefore potentially observable. My point is that there
> are (at least) two kinds of knowledge. The first is that which is directly
> observed, or experienced. The second is made up of the models, inferences,
> and deductions we use to characterize the universe.

I will approach this from my own bias and assume that you mean art:
secular art, religious art, and the written texts that fulfill the same
functions (including this board).

Defining belief
> currently falls squarely in the latter category. Perhaps someday we will
> be able to observe a "belief" as is exists within the brain in a "dormant"
> state...much as we can now isolate genetic material that could formerly
> only be deduced from Darwin's theory.

Do you really think that a belief can be dormant? I 'believe' that
belief is imprinted and enters on a kind of carrier wave of cultural and
environmental symbols and experiences. These inform the development of
that technology that was previously mentioned- art and language.

What do you mean by dormant belief? What is an example of a dormant
belief? I can't think of one contemporary example that can't be traced
through a historical/environmental history.

> The "evidence" is crucial. "Evidence"; observable, testable effects on the
> environment are the basis of rational thinking. One rationally argues only
> from what one observes. One is capable of observing one's own thoughts and
> can thus make a statement like "I think..." That statement becomes an act
> which others may observe and draw conclusions from.
> We can infer, with varying confidence and perhaps inaccurately, the beliefs
> of our ancestors based upon what effects on the environment they have left
> us. As with any communication through time or space precision and accuracy
> are limited by the availiable information, drift of context, and
> limitations on perception.

Your method sounds *really* linear. I thought the whole chaos theory and
bifurcation thing proved that that process is inconclusive. (Excuse my
informality- I just haven't had access to a great deal of chaos

What happens when someone changes their belief? Personal crises such as
the death of a child or a murder of a parent can affect one's belief in
a lot of tings- the effectiveness of the state, the meaning of justice,
the existence of God.

Similarily political/economical and environmental influences can alter
ones beliefs- famine, dorky politicians etc.

Your hypothesis precludes the act of REVOLUTION my man!

Dormant beliefs?! Pshaw!

How can you hope to even know! Now sit down and have a glass of wine
while we plot to overthrow somebody. ;)

> Maybe after defining "belief" we can define "truth"?

Why don't we define truth first?-- Truth is not false. There.

What I believe is
> that drawing conclusions only from what can be observed (a component of
> rationality) allows one to assemble the most accurate map of the
> environment possible given the limits of perception. :)

That's a very good belief and it brings aboput a lot of good things in
the world, but I am skeptical about it's application to *defining*

- Ken Pantheists

"I'd like to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not
screaming in fear like the passengers of his car."