Monday, January 05, 2009

The Origins of Belief

Some friends asked if I’d like to do a reading group on Michel Foucault. I said no, but that maybe we could do a group that uncovers our own beliefs and examines their origns in our own psyches. They recoiled in fear and disgust.

We each have a conscious and unconscious, consistent and inconsistent stance, perspective, or belief-system. Things we’re presented with – ideas, others’ beliefs, works of art, music, situations, current events – trigger reactions, feelings, thought, opinions and considered perspectives. Why those triggered reactions and not others? What is the psychic economy occurring at any given time, and in general over time, in this person that produces that reaction? Why does this one hate that music and that one loves it? What is it triggering in each? I contend that there is an interesting and elaborate psychological story to be told about why those immediate reactions occurred. It has to do with the person who one is.

We could come to learn how a stance, a perspective, being-disposed-to arises, is sustained and how it hangs together. And why, occasionally, conversions occur. Opinions are interesting, but they can get boring. What’s now more interesting is what caused you to hold that opinion. What psychic purpose does it serve?

While the representationality or mirroring-ability of our ideas and beliefs has been unmasked or thrown into grave doubt in contemporary philosophical discussions, we still compete for rightness – the rightness of rendering - in our discussions. Compete for who has got It right. And yet, all the while, we have no foolproof way of determining the It we are trying to get right and can legitimately doubt It’s existence. In our discussions we are trying to get a conception of reality to prevail. (Although, if we share rules for determining validity then we can often come to some agreement.)

What’s at stake in that competition?

1. How the world will look. 2. What we think we should do in it. 3. The integrity of our own beliefs and the legitimacy of the selves and lives that caused and are validated by those beliefs.

1 comment:

SubjectionOf said...

i guess to understand the righteousness of one's own arguments about the social world takes awareness about the transitory righteousness of one's own ego.