belief, superstition, reality and truth

juantoo3

....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb
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Is not every person a hostage to their beliefs, whether true or superstitious? ;)

A belief is not worth holding if it is not worth defending. But that is not enough to make any belief into truth. Rationally we can say that a superstitious belief does not create a new reality, yet somehow the irrational mentality of the human social animal sometimes falls susceptible and gullible enough to *appear* to create a new reality out of superstition by the vehicle of belief.

For example: I want to believe in the basic goodness of other human beings. So I conduct my affairs as if this superstitious desire were truth. Others no doubt believe that they can actually create that reality if they believe hard enough, that if they believe with all their heart that all humans are good then one day they will be.

I guess I am a little more pragmatic, I'm not such a dreamer. I believe that I cannot will anything into existance by mere thought alone. That is not to say that I cannot apply myself towards a goal, but that it takes considerably more effort than mere desire to achieve a goal. I must apply myself; practically, physically, really.

Of course, a lot of this line of reasoning depends on how the terms belief, truth, superstition and reality are defined... :D And whether reality and truth are inherently interchangeable?
 
Is not every person a hostage to their beliefs, whether true or superstitious? ;)

And what exactly are you trying to say?

First, must we be hostages to our beliefs? We could also describe the phenomenon as, "people entertain the beliefs that suit and serve them and the kind of world that they want to inhabit." People are not necessarily hostages, but inhabitants in the world--a shared world with other individuals--who hold and practice certain beliefs as a matter of faith as well as a matter of attempting to realign the world to their visions of what can be.

juantoo said:
A belief is not worth holding if it is not worth defending. But that is not enough to make any belief into truth. Rationally we can say that a superstitious belief does not create a new reality, yet somehow the irrational mentality of the human social animal sometimes falls susceptible and gullible enough to *appear* to create a new reality out of superstition by the vehicle of belief.

For example: I want to believe in the basic goodness of other human beings. So I conduct my affairs as if this superstitious desire were truth. Others no doubt believe that they can actually create that reality if they believe hard enough, that if they believe with all their heart that all humans are good then one day they will be.

I guess I am a little more pragmatic, I'm not such a dreamer. I believe that I cannot will anything into existance by mere thought alone. That is not to say that I cannot apply myself towards a goal, but that it takes considerably more effort than mere desire to achieve a goal. I must apply myself; practically, physically, really.

So you have set yourself against the "others," who you seem to assume are impractical dreamers, merely holders of belief, while you, on the other hand, are "a little more pragmatic," "not such a dreamer," and "must apply... practically, physically, really." Yet what evidence have you presented here that the "others" who you disagree with and disparage don't do the same? You have only vaguely defined yourself in opposition with some dreamers who believe that they can "will anything into existance by mere thought alone." Who are these people? New-Age crystal-worshipping hippies? Fairweather Sunday church-going Christians?

junatoo3 said:
Of course, a lot of this line of reasoning depends on how the terms belief, truth, superstition and reality are defined... :D And whether reality and truth are inherently interchangeable?

It would also seems that this line of reasoning depends on a more concrete, well-constructed argument. Who are you setting against who here, really? Who are the dreamers who do not apply themselves, and who are the more practical inhabitants of the world, who both believe and apply?

;) :)
 
Is not every person a hostage to their beliefs, whether true or superstitious? ;)

A belief is not worth holding if it is not worth defending. But that is not enough to make any belief into truth. Rationally we can say that a superstitious belief does not create a new reality, yet somehow the irrational mentality of the human social animal sometimes falls susceptible and gullible enough to *appear* to create a new reality out of superstition by the vehicle of belief.

For example: I want to believe in the basic goodness of other human beings. So I conduct my affairs as if this superstitious desire were truth. Others no doubt believe that they can actually create that reality if they believe hard enough, that if they believe with all their heart that all humans are good then one day they will be.

I guess I am a little more pragmatic, I'm not such a dreamer. I believe that I cannot will anything into existance by mere thought alone. That is not to say that I cannot apply myself towards a goal, but that it takes considerably more effort than mere desire to achieve a goal. I must apply myself; practically, physically, really.

Of course, a lot of this line of reasoning depends on how the terms belief, truth, superstition and reality are defined... :D And whether reality and truth are inherently interchangeable?
I posted this quote on the Happy thread not long go:
"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves."
~Amelia Earhart​
Now, compare this to the etymology of the word belief:
etymonline.com said:
belief
c.1175, replaced O.E. geleafa, from W.Gmc. *ga-laubon (cf. O.S. gilobo, M.Du. gelove, O.H.G. giloubo, Ger. glaube), from *galaub- "dear, esteemed." The prefix was altered on analogy of the verb. The distinction of the final consonant from that of believe developed 15c. Belief used to mean "trust in God," while faith meant "loyalty to a person based on promise or duty" (a sense preserved in keep one's faith, in good (or bad) faith and in common usage of faithful, faithless, which contain no notion of divinity). But faith, as cognate of L. fides, took on the religious sense beginning in 14c. translations, and belief had by 16c. become limited to "mental acceptance of something as true," from the religious use in the sense of "things held to be true as a matter of religious doctrine" (c.1225).
In other words, belief means beloved.

So, why do you think the above Amelia Earhart quote works? :)
{Or are you skeptical about it?}
 
I am actually trying to broach the subject of superstition, but I think in some degree that is making itself known by the responses. I am actually not trying to pit anybody against any other, so I find it pretty telling that I must have struck on a deeply rooted nerve.

I have been trying to find a way to begin this subject and I keep coming back to the same ridiculous example; the famous basketball player who wore his "lucky" gym shorts to every game including several championships. I cannot help but wonder at the ritual and superstition involved, and whether or not adhering to such ritual in fact actually made this man into a championship level player.

The rational person in me says the shorts had nothing to do with his skill and ability. Any other views? I mean, is this fella in love with his skivvies, and that is the answer?
 
Remember the famous experiment by BF Skinner? He used pigeions and fed them at odd times of the day and irregular intervals. What he noticed was that the birds would repeat whatever behaviors they were doing when the pellets were dropped. In many rituals and belief systems we try to find some kind of control over what is seen as a chaotic world.
 
Remember the famous experiment by BF Skinner? He used pigeions and fed them at odd times of the day and irregular intervals. What he noticed was that the birds would repeat whatever behaviors they were doing when the pellets were dropped. In many rituals and belief systems we try to find some kind of control over what is seen as a chaotic world.

I was thinking along that same line. It is sometimes helpful to assign significance to, or make an icon or marker of something so that it serves to provide an artificial perimeter for something conceptual which cannot be contained any other way. From the outside this process may be indistinguishable from logic-less superstition, when in reality it may serve a valuable purpose. For example, I always buy a yellow Bic lighter. I've found that the longer I posses an object the less likely I am to lose it. But these lighters are disposable, so I can't hang on to the same one for long. But I can posses the color yellow as a substitute for the permanent object. From the outside this may appear to be nothing more than rank superstition, but from my point of view that "superstition" performs a very valuable function which in some ways circumvents logic.

If you look at the superstitions of, say, athletes, you'll see this process at work. A golfer will always mark his ball a certain way. He will always use the same type of marker, or insist on only certain numbers on the balls. These are superstitions, but the function in the same way my yellow lighter fetish does. They create an artificial continuity which actually works to improve the players game.

Chris
 
If you look at the superstitions of, say, athletes, you'll see this process at work. A golfer will always mark his ball a certain way. He will always use the same type of marker, or insist on only certain numbers on the balls. These are superstitions, but the function in the same way my yellow lighter fetish does. They create an artificial continuity which actually works to improve the players game.

Chris

Golf really does have a lot of ritual! Oh how I miss playing. You are right about continuity actually improving one's game. When I was playing my best my pre-drive routine was like clockwork. Got my whole body and mind in the right place for a nice smooth swing. :)
 
Golf really does have a lot of ritual! Oh how I miss playing. You are right about continuity actually improving one's game. When I was playing my best my pre-drive routine was like clockwork. Got my whole body and mind in the right place for a nice smooth swing. :)

I've had to cut back on my playing as the worsening economy is really eating into us. I'm looking forward to cheap summer rates! I'm consistently breaking ninety now, which is the best I've ever played. Chipped in for a birdie on the 600 yard par 5 last Sunday!

Chris
 
OK, so some artificial continuity in order to promote or prolong a desired effect may be the underlying reason attached to superstitious ritual.

So how does this apply to religious ritual?

(Perhaps now one can see why I have so long hesitated to broach this.) From the vantage of any given religion there are a host of seemingly silly or otherwise irrational / illogical ritual superstitions in all other religions. Yet within the confines and context of any given religion these same specific superstitious rituals seem to make sense. Is Seattlegal on the correct trail in suggesting that belief is closely related to "beloved?" Are specific related superstitions only valid if they are "beloved?"
 
I've had to cut back on my playing as the worsening economy is really eating into us. I'm looking forward to cheap summer rates! I'm consistently breaking ninety now, which is the best I've ever played. Chipped in for a birdie on the 600 yard par 5 last Sunday!

Chris

Congrats on the long birdie! Breaking 90 is excellent.

Sorry to hear that you don't get to play as much. We're in the same boat actually. If the girls get into playing it might be worth it for us to get some kind of family membership as our main form of entertainment, but that's a long way off. I was really spoiled because when I was in grad school we lived right next to a really excellent and really inexpensive golf course. Roger was in heaven. And in upstate NY we also were near some pretty good inexpensive courses. But in MO and here in CO it is so much more expensive.

Do your girls play at all?
 
OK, so some artificial continuity in order to promote or prolong a desired effect may be the underlying reason attached to superstitious ritual.

So how does this apply to religious ritual?

The function of at least some rituals does have to do with continuity between past, present, and future. Passover is all about bringing the Exodus-Siani event into the present so that each generation, each year, experiences it as their own. Similar for the Eucharist...we are participating in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
 
The function of at least some rituals does have to do with continuity between past, present, and future. Passover is all about bringing the Exodus-Siani event into the present so that each generation, each year, experiences it as their own. Similar for the Eucharist...we are participating in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
OK, I can see where ritual has to do with continuity. In the course of my travels though it seems the Passover ritual though is confined primarily to Judaism, and by and large most Christians view it as a *relatively* meaningless superstitious ritual that does not apply to them. (We know I disagree, but we also know I do not speak for all Christians.) Could one not equally say that something like ritual chocolate Easter bunnies and colored egg hunts are similarly *relatively* meaningless rituals? I would say, rituals completely unrelated to the Jewish paradigm from which the fledgling Christianity grew. I am wondering what others' views are to matters such as this. Or are these types of superstitious rituals something people mindlessly engage in without giving much thought beforehand?
 
OK, I can see where ritual has to do with continuity. In the course of my travels though it seems the Passover ritual though is confined primarily to Judaism and by and large most Christians view it as a *relatively* meaningless superstitious ritual that does not apply to them. (We know I disagree, but we also know I do not speak for all Christians.) Could one not equally say that something like ritual chocolate Easter bunnies and colored egg hunts are similarly *relatively* meaningless rituals? I would say, rituals completely unrelated to the Jewish paradigm from which the fledgling Christianity grew. I am wondering what others' views are to matters such as this. Or are these types of superstitious rituals something people mindlessly engage in without giving much thought beforehand?


Well, I was referring to Passover as it is observed by the Jews, but I also have never met a Christian who would call it a meaningless supernatuaral ritual. Even if we don't use it as part of our formal Christian holy days, I think we still consider it meaningful and sacred to Jews and also as part of our own sacred history. I'd hardly call these things superstitious. Superstitious to me suggests a ritual out of context, or for which the context has been changed or lost so that there is no meaning, just empty actions. It would not be superstitious for Christians to celebrate Passover if we were doing it to remember our own connection to the Exodus event, as adopted children of Abraham. It's not superstitious to use eggs and rabbits to symbolize new life and fertility in Spring.
 
It's not superstitious to use eggs and rabbits to symbolize new life and fertility in Spring.
OK, but in the Christian paradigm, what is the continuity? What connection? New life and fertility in spring are decidedly pagan ritualistic associations, how did these things get wrapped up in Christian mythos?
 
I am actually trying to broach the subject of superstition, but I think in some degree that is making itself known by the responses. I am actually not trying to pit anybody against any other, so I find it pretty telling that I must have struck on a deeply rooted nerve.

Eh... my bad. I don't much go in for abstract philosophy for abstract philosophy's sake.

juantoo3 said:
OK, but in the Christian paradigm, what is the continuity? What connection? New life and fertility in spring are decidedly pagan ritualistic associations, how did these things get wrapped up in Christian mythos?

The continuity is that Christianity has appropriated all sorts of pagan rituals and practices over time. These things were co-opted by the Catholic Church as a way of assimilating worshippers.

Easter/Ishtar: easter ishtar - Google Search
 
OK, but in the Christian paradigm, what is the continuity? What connection? New life and fertility in spring are decidedly pagan ritualistic associations, how did these things get wrapped up in Christian mythos?
The trinity provides the continuity in the Christian paradigm.
 
The continuity is that Christianity has appropriated all sorts of pagan rituals and practices over time. These things were co-opted by the Catholic Church as a way of assimilating worshippers.

Easter/Ishtar: easter ishtar - Google Search

;) bingo!

Now for the practical application of the abstract realization...
 
So have we broached anything here that we didn't argue over in the "Function of Belief" thread? What happens when we stay in the artificial continuity that Chris so compellingly describes? Have we merely created a safe place from which we can engage our own version of reality? I mean, sure we can play more confidently if emotionally we feel our bases are covered, but are we really engaging actuality or some kind of simulacrum?
 
So have we broached anything here that we didn't argue over in the "Function of Belief" thread? What happens when we stay in the artificial continuity that Chris so compellingly describes? Have we merely created a safe place from which we can engage our own version of reality? I mean, sure we can play more confidently if emotionally we feel our bases are covered, but are we really engaging actuality or some kind of simulacrum?
Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind.
One said, “The flag moves.”
The other said, “The wind moves.”
They argued back and forth but could not agree.

Hui-neng, the sixth patriarch, said: “Gentlemen! It is not
the flag that moves. It is not the wind that moves. It is
your mind that moves.”

The two monks were struck with awe.​
 
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