What we believe or why we believe it

What is more important, what we believe or why we believe it? I tend to think why is more important over a longer period of time while what is more important in the shorter term.

Why do you believe that? :grinning:

Fair question, a lot of times I find myself in a position where I know very little about something, I am a firm believer that every action has a reaction. Risk aversion is always my first consideration. Depending on how much importance I attach to something as time allows I might delve deeper into it very often changing my initial belief. When a trusted messenger comes along my first inclination is to believe them, but I have to question why I believe them when 50% of the population does not believe them. Sometimes it takes a week or a month or several years to evaluate the messenger.

It is more important what you believe, as that shapes your experience of your reality.

If we choose beliefs that force us to focus on lack, unhappiness, problems, etc., we will have a different experience of reality than if we choose beliefs that focus on abundance, happiness, kindness, etc.

The only reason why I should believe something is because it is demonstrably true and fair to a high degree.

I’m inclined toward this answer. But there are some things where it doesn’t much matter what you believe, either because they’re inherently unimportant or because there’s not really anything you can do about them. About those things it may matter more why you believe what you believe.

But wouldn’t that be knowledge rather than belief?

(Also, is the statement I quoted, itself, demonstrably true?)

I wish more people understood the difference between what they believe to be true, and what (they think) they know to be true. The distinction between knowledge and opinion seems to be getting so blurred that it is in danger of disappearing. If someone says “I believe X” then the listener pretty much has to ask “do you have any knowledge in this area, or is this unsupported opinion? If the former, let’s talk about the sources of that knowledge. If it’s the latter, have a nice day.”

I see Thudlow Boink also started to address this issue.

I agree with you, most of these issues require fairly extensive research to really be able to form any kind of knowledge base opinion

I don’t really have beliefs that don’t fit that category. Obviously it’s a subjective view of what is true and fair to a high degree but I can’t maintain faith with a belief not based on that. Not anymore anyway.

So for me, I don’t want a choice in what to believe at all, but bound in what I believe by why.

I think “why we believe it” is far more important because we live in a society where we will be passing law which restrict others’ freedoms. So just as an example from recent threads, if society is going to tell someone that he cannot have a same sex marriage, or must as a condition of teaching call a student by his or her preferred pronoun, or someone cannot have a legal abortion, or must pay child support to someone not his biological child, or must get a building permit to hang siding on his house, or separate aluminum cans from the rest of his garbage, then one must be able to articulate the reasons behind those things lest people become angry that they are subject to what seems like an arbitrary imposition on their freedoms.

“Why we believe it” is certainly important when it comes to trying to persuade others of our beliefs, or to consider changing our own. But that wouldn’t be important if what we believed wasn’t, itself, important.

How do you know what you believe is important if you don’t know why you believe it? Perhaps your belief that it is “important” is based on an incorrect assumption. For example, same sex marriage. Many people changed their opinions on that issue because when they examined why they were against it, it was because of simple inertia, that they had always been told that it was important that marriage be between a man and a woman. When they examined the “why” they changed their opinions.

Define “knowledge”. There are only a very small number of things that each individual can know is true. The rest relies on believing trusted sources. I believe my daughter feels pain when she stubs her toe, but I can’t know it.

That is such a narrow type of knowledge that it’s practically useless though. So what is a belief vs knowledge? Do I know the Earth orbits the Sun or do I just believe it because my trusted sources say it is true and it fits with how I experience the world (seasons and so on)?

I had to take a few philosophy courses as an undergrad and one of them was basically an entire semester of epistemology. (Actually, I think it was more about “meaning,” but close enough.) Much of it broke down to the idea that there are several things that have to be true before you can claim you “know” something. These include whether or not the “knowledge” is factually true, whether you had a good reason to believe it to be true, and so forth.

“Belief” by itself is a different can of worms. Most people would say, I think, that saying you “believe” something to be true is the same as “knowing” it is true, but that’s obviously not the case. “To believe” has more of a “I think that this may be true” vibe to it. To believe something is say that you think it is true, which is just another way of saying that you don’t actually know.

bolding mine, can we truly be said to choose beliefs? I’m not sure I am free to do so. That may just be a nitpick on the wording but I’ve heard similar said before and it rings false to me.

But if you believe something for bad reasons, then you’re deluding yourself and acting irrationally, which affects you and very likely those around you. Reality is reality, only our experiences are subjective, and yes our beliefs do impact that experience, but having a rational basis for those beliefs is what matters.

Some people say it’s not possible to choose your beliefs (ninja’d @Novelty_Bobble) You are either convinced of a proposition or you are not. You can be convinced for good reasons or bad reasons, but you don’t just decide “I’m going to believe X today” without some other level of rationalization.

As for focusing on problems versus happiness, etc., again, what matters is what’s actually real and rational. Tricking yourself into believing things are all happy and wonderful when they’re not may be surface-level comforting, but you’re just deluding yourself. That has real consequences, such as the obvious one of not confronting those issues, but also making you more susceptible to delusional or fraudulent external influences.

Knowledge = sum total of experience

Belief/Opinion = experience of an individual

Reality = unknowable

Only in the sense that we can’t be absolutely 100% certain we aren’t in a Matrix-like simulation, or are just brains in jars, etc. The thing is, even if we are living some sort of false reality, we still need to operate within the rules and parameters that have been set forth and which we are familiar with, which are objectively quantifiable, so we might as well stick with it.

Science and Religion are striving to do so.