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Related Words, Beliefs, Background for Choice #1
adopting healthy beliefs -- where the evidence for or against buying into a particular belief is not persuasive one way or the other, deciding whether to adopt the belief based on the extent to which it will promote your health and the health of the society you live in. Example: Consider whether to believe in the idea that human beings are all connected to each other in an unseen way. Whereas clearly in the three dimensional world perceived by our ordinary senses human beings are separate, unconnected entities, the possibility exists that humans could be linked in other ways: in higher spatial dimensions, in a spiritual realm, by each being connected to God, etc. Suppose after investigating pro and con evidence related to this belief you are still undecided as to its ultimate truth, but do become convinced that if in fact this were true, and everyone believed it, the world would be a better place -- or at least if you believe it your psychological health will be enhanced (you won’t feel so alone, so alienated, etc.) So you weave this belief and others into your worldview because they have psychological advantages and make you a healthier, more together person and, if others believed them, could make the world a better place -- not because you are unequivocally convinced that they are part of the ultimate, true description of Reality. Similarly you do not buy into other beliefs, not because you’re convinced they are untrue, because you see that they could potentially be unhealthy to you or to society. Example: a young boy decides not to believe that if he behaves badly he will burn in hell because burning in hell scares him and gives him nightmares. He decides to behave (for other reasons) but not believe in hell and this choice seems healthy.
afterlife—the belief that the fundamental core or essence of an individual’s identity—his or her soul or consciousness—survives the death of the individual’s physical body and continues to exist as an integral whole
attitude–a characteristic evaluative orientation and / or response tendency toward something previously experienced or encountered. The associated evaluation can be positive (like), negative (dislike), or neutral (no opinion.) Beyond this evaluation –which may or may not be directly communicated–observing the particular response allows more about the underlying attitude to be inferred. Attitudes form based on inputs from three domains: 1) cognitive (thoughts, beliefs), 2) affective (emotions, feelings), and 3) conative (volition, action tendency or disposition).
belief—if we act as if something is true, or have an attitude consistent with this, then we believe it to be true and that something is said to be one of our beliefs
concept–abstract generalized ideas and understanding that replace a set of sensory experiences and memories. Example: a very young child handles similar different objects, rectangular blocks, orange, beach ball, tennis ball, toy cars, globe, etc. and eventually forms a concept of "roundness"–that some of the objects handled fit with, others don’t. The conceptualization process involves observing, abstracting, recalling memories, discriminating, categorizing, etc.
conceptual framework (or conceptual map)–an idealized way of making sense out of a complicated world which begins in early childhood with recognizing similarities and differences between objects and building concepts. The process continues with fitting certain concepts that belong together into conceptual schemes for understanding, then fitting many conceptual schemes together to make a conceptual framework one that gets constantly torn down, rebuilt, and refined over many years–a whole lifetime for some!
confirmation basis—the tendency to interpret new evidence so as to confirm existing beliefs and ignore that which might challenge them
critical thinking skills—generally refers to skills / ability to take facts and form judgments. More specifically it may refer to the skills / ability to do an analysis (breaking down into component parts) of a problem or situation based on facts, how they may be related, cause and effect, logical reasoning, forming and testing hypotheses, etc. And do this to rigorous standards: with enough competence, experience and knowledge to tackle a problem or case, in an error-free manner , free of wishful thinking, with integrity not prejudice or bias, etc.. Depending on the problem or situation as much or more synthesizing (putting together) may be required. All of this is done to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion, solution, or judgment that fairly represents the situation, is plausible, and meets other tests—most critically it eventually stands up to others’ judgment /appeals, attempts to reproduce, etc. And in this way gains acceptance
data—information, often expressed with numbers, collected through observation, is typically gathered, collected, reported. After being expressed in the most convenient form to represent the knowledge involved, it may then be analyzed and displayed in graphical form.
death—the permanent end of an organism’s biological functioning including cessation of homeostasis
dogmatic belief -- a belief that is firmly held based on the authority of others, but is actually incompatible with existing facts or based on faulty premises or reasoning . In his book Shadows in the Cave, G.D. Martin distinguishes between dogmatic ‘true believers’ and ‘real believers’. He writes, “According to dogma, the final truth is known...it is therefore finite...Real Belief is being open to change and movement, and to the infinite possibilities of the universe...True believers are orthodox. Real believers are inquiring heretics. True believers feel awe at the grandeur of their own thoughts. Real believers feel awe at the immensity of the unknown... Dogma is credulous. [Real] Belief is skeptical, but forever open-minded.”
empiricism -- the belief that all knowledge comes from experience. As part of the foundation of science it stresses that scientific knowledge ultimately should be based on observation and experiment.
Enlightenment, Age of—A period in Western European history spanning roughly two centuries that emphasized reason and evidence of the senses over supernaturalism, faith, and religious authority. It grew out of Renaissance Humanism and the scientific revolution—the threshold of which many put at the year 1600. While one can argue that liberalism and democracy emerged out of it, one can also look back 2000 years earlier to ancient Greek science (the Ionian Enlightenment) and experiments with democracy.
explicit knowledge -- knowledge that can be expressed in words or with symbols (perhaps mathematical symbols) or otherwise abstracted from an actual individual experience. If the reality experienced is like the terrain, explicit statements describing it are like a map of the terrain. As science extends its map of reality, the scientific conceptual framework is steadily refined and becomes a better guide to the underlying terrain. But one must recognize that a limitation of science is that -- as good as the map is -- it can not replace the terrain itself, the actual experience of reality.
fact—an occurrence in the real world, independent of belief. Facts can be verified, that is demonstrated to be consistent with experience of Reality
faith–firm belief, complete confidence and trust in something for which there is no proof, often associated with religion and typically linked more to the one's feelings / emotions than one's rational / analytical side. Some give the concept deeper meaning. Christian philosopher Paul Tillich connected it with "ultimate concern" as in to what should one's life should be devoted. In his book Stages of Faith, James Fowler views finding faith as ultimately finding "an overarching, integrating and grounding trust in a center of value and power sufficiently worthy to give our lives unity and meaning."
faith vs. trust—the terms, often used in reference to believing in something or someone, are similar except that faith is typically used in a spiritual context, whereas trust is employed in relationships—especially interpersonal ones
false balance / both sidesism—refers to journalist efforts—some perhaps a relic of the old USA Fairness Doctrine rescinded in 1987—to even- handedly present both sides of controversial issues, when in fact one of the sides has little or no real case that stands up to an evidence-based approach. To attain something like a balance of arguments—where none is possible they can weigh extreme minority views far too much and downplay consensus, or simply report false claims or misleading arguments that one side presents. Some feel this approach to journalism—along with out of control social media posts-- is a major cause of the epidemic of misinformation sweeping the USA in 2020.
feedback–information modifies the state of a system, changing it so that future system behavior changes. Learning provides a simple example, where the system involved can be, not just our knowledge but, our entire worldview. Here the most important lessons learned change our behavior the most. Voting in an election is another simple example of a feedback process at work. Feedback also has a place in technical devices: where information about the state of a hardware system (output) is fed back to the system input to adjust, regulate, or modify its behavior. Positive feedback reinforces input and can lead to exploding (or imploding) output. Negative feedback opposes input and can lead to stable behavior. Both can be present in complex systems. Technology-based examples include thermostats in heating / cooling systems, and elevator position / speed controls. Biology based feedback examples include blood sugar regulation in the body, populations of prey / predators in ecosystem, etc.
hope—the opinion that “Hope is the denial of reality” (from Margaret Weis in Dragons of Autumn Twilight) needs tweaking. More correctly, hope is dwelling on the possibility that your view of a certain aspect of reality—which you believe to be correct—is in fact too grim of an assessment.
human evolution and feedback—while our earliest ancestors with many ape-like characteristics only began to walk upright somewhere between 5.5 and seven million years ago, human brains remained relatively small until around two million years ago—when they began a steady increase in size. Why? While s definitive answer can’t be given, it’s believed that a leading contributor to this was a feedback loop that worked as follows: technological advances in the form of better stone cutting tools enabled humans to eat more nutritious foods including meat which could better meet the energy demands of larger brains, which in turn lead to still more technological development, leading to still better dietsčstill larger brains, etc
intuition–immediate insight that occurs without conscious awareness. To some intuition is an almost mystical process, or others a response to very subtle cues and stimuli received unconsciously
judgment -- the process and / or result of forming an opinion or drawing a conclusion based on consideration of the available evidence or knowledge
justification of belief -- This involves 1) believing that according to some standard or by some criterion a statement is actually true, 2) having evidence or data to support the above conclusion, and 3) evaluating the certainty with which the belief is established. In this latter regard, if the evidence or data is complete and fully applicable or relevant to the standard or criterion, the belief can be accepted with certainty; if the evidence is only partially complete and / or not fully applicable or relevant, some doubt should accompany accepting the belief, if it is accepted at all. And, of course, the standard or criterion used should be subjected to similar scrutiny, or at least identified when promoting the belief.
knowledge, two kinds of -- Bertrand Russell distinguished between 1) Knowledge by acquaintance, that is knowledge gained by direct experience involving a) sensory experience, b) objects of memory, c) internal states, d) ourselves, and 2) Knowledge by description, that is thought-out or mediated knowledge of a) other selves , and b) physical objects (our conceptualization of them, not direct sensory experience ) The distinction he makes is what others (most notably Michael Polanyi in Tacit Knowledge, and Graham Martin in Shadows in the Cave ) have elaborated on in distinguishing between explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge.
magical thinking–a stage of childhood development in which the child believes that his or her thoughts are the cause of the events seen happening, and in some adults with psychiatric disorders
ontology--most generally this refers to the nature of existence or Reality; more specifically it can refer to the details in a description of Reality--say the concepts, categories, and connections between them as part of a framework to describe Reality
rationalism -- a philosophical orientation that links finding ultimate truth to employing reasoning
Reality–the totality of all things, structures (actual and conceptual), events (past and present) and phenomena, whether observable or not; what a worldview (whether it be based on individual or shared human experience) ultimately attempts to describe or map.
reality generating mechanisms–according to John Casti, these are particular ways of seeing the world, each possessing its own terminology, tools, and methods. Examples are science, religion, mysticism, poetry, music, literature and art. Each of these represents a particular way of seeing Reality and thus determining what is seen.
reason vs. faith–essentially the distinction here is between belief supported by facts and concepts, ultimately linked to observation and experience, which fit together in a coherent way as part of a useful, logical framework, and belief for which there is no such basis, but instead only one’s unshaken feeling of confidence, trust, and willingness to believe. When one’s knowledge and experience is limited, belief can be extended based on trusting the authority of someone else, rather than doing one’s own investigation into the rational basis for belief. Sometimes, there is no way to rationally or scientifically decide and anyone holding such belief holds it through faith. In this way, faith can be connected with belonging. Some see faith as a valid basis for knowledge, others say it provides no such basis. Some see reason as threatening faith–meaning as one increasingly relies on it, one’s reliance on faith diminishes.
scientific consensus—the collective general agreement, judgment, position, and opinion of the scientists in a particular field of study amenable to scientific methods
tacit knowledge -- knowledge that is ineffable, that is can not be put into words, symbols or otherwise made into explicit knowledge. It is argued that you both know much more than you can describe, and that often you know but can’t identify how it is you know. Tacit knowledge is intimately connected with personal experience of reality, whereas explicit knowledge is one step removed from reality. It is argued that the attempted transformation of tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge (by putting one’s experience into words) can not only at times be difficult, fall far short , or be impossible, but can lead to falsification. Such falsification results when an experienced “whole truth” becomes a pieced together collection of parts (words and symbols) and something much different from the whole. Mystical experience is firmly set in the realm of tacit knowledge.
testability -- refers to the idea that for a statement or hypothesis to be considered scientifically acceptable it must be testable -- that is, conceivably it could be shown to be false. Here are two similar statements: 1) the entire universe is permeated with an undetectable pure substance: the quintessence; 2) all space is permeated by a substance that is at absolute rest (meaning all motion is relative to it): the ether. The first is not a scientific statement because it is not testable. (The second statement was most notably tested in the famous Michelson-Morley Experiment of 1887).
useful fiction -- even if you mostly don’t belief in something, if believing has psychological advantages then for you this belief can be a useful fiction. This is related to the practice of adopting healthy beliefs.
wishful thinking–involves interpreting events / actions of others, decision-making and forming beliefs based on what one desires to be true (rather than what is true) or what is the pleasing to imagine (rather than facing the perhaps grim?) reality behind a situation. A related orientation–involving deluding oneself and similarly lacking in rational analysis / real world grounding–is "wishing makes it so." This simplistic, fairy tale, magical, childhood fantasy way of dealing with problems is to be contrasted with the planning / hard work / repeated trials before success that adults solving real problems more typically are faced with.
worldview–a conceptual framework and a set of beliefs used to make sense out of a complex, seemingly chaotic Reality based on your perceptions, experience and learning. Besides incorporating a purpose or "raison d’etre," it provides an outlook or expectation for the world as it exists or is perceived to exist–one that you base predictions about the future on. It continually evolves–indeed, you spend the rest of your life testing and refining it, based on feedback you get. As it develops, it increasingly it becomes the source of your goals and desires, and as such it shapes your behavior and values.
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