The Dazzle of Convictions

Philosophy, psychology and the social sciences in general have been seen as a contrast to the ”hard” sciences, the natural sciences, in that they rely only in a very small part on empiricism, and even this small empiricism can be dependent on perception. For this, it is even made a mockery of them: the theories, in particular in philosophy, cannot be tested, and as such their truth may never be known. The mockery is of course made with certain silly theories and thoughts in mind – silly because they are perceived as obviously false! – but this perception is not from the corporeal senses, and herein lies the difference.

Michelson and Morley had no means of fooling themselves, for they measured what they measured, and this they could see and touch. These senses are not made for hiding things for us or upholding any conviction, but simply to observe the surroundings, good or bad – and we are usually convinced of the reality of what we perceive by the corporeal senses.  Abstract ideas are, however, perceived on a different scale by different faculties of the mind, and it is perhaps not the nature of these faculties – we may mention emotion and intuition among them – to discover “truth” or what is, or to perceive all that is around, like our eyes and ears tries to: the consequences would be catastrophic if the mind would somehow ignore the sight of an angry lion in front of us, or the honking of a car driving towards us. However, for the sake of survival, little is lost if our contemplation about abstract ideas is greatly lacking, so the emotion and intuition stay underdeveloped.

We should also remember that the empiric method of science has shown its worth during the ages, while having no detrimental side-effects, and this has led us to adapt it and we are even trained for it in society: taught to believe the results of experiments over accepted facts – at least in the laboratory. In philosophy the education – that is, the subtle, indirect part of it pertaining to mindset on a deeper level – works in the opposite direction, even if the words we are told may occasionally say otherwise. The values, principles and morals of society are not presented as up for questioning, or something that should be tested and reflected deeply over, but rather as something that should at all times be protected and upheld.

The limitation of the faculties mentioned above, which deals with these abstract concepts, makes this “education” very dangerous indeed. The conviction of the truth of the “aether” theory did not and could not make the eyes of Michelson and Morley blind to the observations.  But each and all have observed that the conviction in some philosophical idea can make the mind blind to understand and perceive any argument or observation which contradicts the idea.

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4 thoughts on “The Dazzle of Convictions

  1. Though I intuit that it is much more complex than this, this is the basic premise on which I say that religious belief is bad for the self and bad for society, going so far as to say that it is harmful.
    I would like to use this post in reference to such an argument on my blog if that is permitted.

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  2. Pingback: Doing Harm With A Smile… The Good Of Religious Belief | myatheistlife

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