Monday, December 8, 2008

Believing in your Value System

If you trust Socrates, then you believe that the wisest man knows he knows nothing at all. Additionally when we look at all of the great philosophers throughout time with such polar opposite views, what gives us such confidence in our search for values? I do not think I am smarter than Socrates and I have no reason to believe that I am any smarter than the other members of this class. I have developed a bad habit throughout this year of finding flaws in the arguments of others without producing arguments of my own.

This stems from the fact that while I obviously have a moral code of my own, I do not have enough faith in its validity or concreteness to assume that it is worth preaching. This is a habit I need to break, but I still can't ignore this question: where do you (dear classmates of mine) find the confidence to put forth your beliefs as facts? Do you have such faith in them that you believe they are more correct than the beliefs of the other members of the class? Or, do you put them forth in an effort to subject them to the critiques of your peers? I am asking an earnest question and really do not mean to suggest that our class is full of arrogance; I am simply curious and would like to find a good reason to put my own views forth.

Maybe I should have asked this question earlier than the last week of the last semester of Search...


Emily Sellers said...
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Emily Sellers said...

While it is true that we know nothing. I hold that it is not possible for us to not believe something. So to formulate that in the positive . . . we all have to believe something.

The only thing we know, to quote Descartes, that we are "thinking things." As we have an understanding of ourselves as such we have to think. We have to think something. Thinking doesn't have to have basis in facts. Thinking really is believing. Believing in our ability to think. Which naturally leads us to think we are right, because if we thought we wrong we would change our mind. None of us would say anything if we didn't think there wasn't some truth to what we were saying.

While I know I don't know anything. I think I know everything until I learn something that makes me look back and realize I didn't. And when I look back at the schmuck that was me I shake my head thinking (falsely, of course) "I am so much better now." Who doesn't do that?

It irrational but we constantly think we know everything and yet are constantly learning new things. No mater how many times I tell myself "you don't know anything" I never really believe it. I don't believe it because I am not being proven wrong at that precise moment.

We are all seeking truth and as arrogant beings (myself included) we believe that we know something. What is great about this blog, this class, is the Socratic method. This speeds the process of seeking the truth along. We all bring our half-baked ideas and analyze them and come out with something better. Not the truth, but closer. After three semesters of Search we are closer in our pursuit of asymptote that is truth. This I believe.

Octo-hobo said...

I'd like to think that my beliefs aren't really facts, they're just beliefs. And you're right, we can't really "know" anything because sometimes our minds change, or situations change. At times, I too choose to believe that I do indeed know stuff, like how to transition from an overhand-slip to a rear naked choke, but then there are times when I am either proven wrong or find a new way to go about whatever it is I'm trying to do. But until that moment when I'm proven incorrect, I share Emily's disbelief in being wrong.

In short, it's not a matter of faith as opposed to lack of evidence to disprove a belief. But as the great Gin Rummy once said: "The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence...what I’m saying is, there are known knowns and known unknowns, but there’s also unknown unknowns…things we don’t know that we don’t know!" Now, say what again.

Joy Henary said...

As far as not wanting to define your moral code because of lack of validity, I believe most people will relate. I mean, yes, everyone has their own ethical standpoint, religion, faith, or belief, but who can really say or more prove their own beliefs? No one really. I very much can relate to this hesistance, for I have yet to express my true moral code to many of your. I love getting into debates and what not, but truly who's gonna truly win an argument? Really, no one. We can argue until the day ends, but no one can truly prove their belief a fact. People do not easily give up on the belief they hold, but sometimes others can be swayed. I like others, have held certain opinions, and over time have through more rational thought and mainly experience found these to be irrational. However, the simple fact that we truly know nothing is the main point to consider. Although you feel no validity but your own justification for your beliefs, we are all in the same boat.