I believe things because it pleases me to do so

Friday, 24. February 2012

OK, here you are:

I believe things because it pleases me to do so. I don’t require for my belief to be anchored in verifiable truth, but it pleases me when I find an ally in my belief.

Already in two sentences I have placed “what pleases” me above the concept of Truth, seen as some unseen dictator criticizing my feeble failure to accord to its strictures.

When I stop believing my beliefs, shaken by some emotion, I feel disconsolate, drifting like a boat that has broken its moorings. Perhaps this is why my favourite beliefs are those which cannot easily be proved wrong. Those such as militant atheists, the BBC and the scientists and doctors it clasps to its bosom, who worship the “evidence-based”, rather miss the entire point of beliefs.

I ought to give some examples of the kinds of things I believe, or would like to believe—I’m not sure there’s a difference between the two. I believe that all creatures are intelligent; that evolution itself is intelligent, not blind and mechanical. I believe a giraffe’s neck is long because its ancestors desired to reach the high branches. I believe that the conscious mind, the I that is in the given moment dedicated to interaction in the world, is less important than commonly acknowledged. True self-awareness has its centre of gravity more in the unconscious, the autonomous processes of the body which keep us safe and strive to prevent us from continuing in self-destructive actions and attitudes; even if they have to make us ill in order to send us messages. I think poor Nietzsche believed that too, and he had more than his share of illness. Perhaps in him it was merely syphilis, which from a scientific point of view disproves the belief. But never mind. He said what he said, and it has value that cannot be refuted by medical science.

It is perfectly rational to do what pleases us. And our beliefs prop us up. We need that!

3 Responses to “I believe things because it pleases me to do so”

  1. RealSteveHolmes Says:

    It will take me quite a while to respond to this. Thanks for being a new author on this site.

  2. ktln Says:

    Einstein famously said that Intuition was the highest intelligence, the rational mind it’s faithful servant. I think that the rational mind is actually, now and then, a traitor, will o’ the wisp and unfaithful servant, though it’s Intuition that in modernity, tends to get the bad rap for unreliability. I can think of enough times I’ve thought, uh oh, keep clear, then told myself I must be reasonable and sensible and play fair, and deal in facts, only to have to revert to my first split second judgement. I believe things that make sense to me and/or ‘ring true.’

    This is all workable information and saves unnecessary reinventing of the wheel. If I find my intuition is in conflict with a piece of rationally sourced ‘evidence’ so that my mind can’t stop grinding and chewing at it, I am increasingly likely to allow my intuition to trump it, let the doctor sulk as he will should this involve a medical choice. Last year, I tested a choice for medication made rationally, against a choice for the same medicine made intuitively. Reason and the doctor said, take this drug. The Intuition said no, no, no! I went with the rational decision, for the sake of the experiment, and paid for it with an adverse reaction at the third dose. The side effects lingered for months.

    This gave me a precedent for future decision making of this kind, which was worth my while for the long haul. Prescience of ‘truth’ is not omniscience, but the body has its own intelligence (I believe this by reason of study, observation, history and intuition, and, yes it does please me as well, but this is not my basis for belief) Therefore the body, well or ill, contains its own truth. If the mind will trust the body and the body will trust the mind, the whole will be greater than the sum. Something broken by trial can still contain more truth than something unbroken because untried.

  3. Vincent Says:

    ktln, I like very much what you have said on this, and would only add that intuition and the body’s truth can also be deceived. I have a sense that there is nothing infallible in nature!

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