Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mental Stadium

And what then is belief? It is the demi-cadence that closes a musical phrase in the symphony of our intellectual life. It has three properties:

First, it is something that we are aware of;

Second, it appeases the irritation of doubt;

Third it involves the establishment in our nature of a rule of action or say for short, a habit.

As it appeases the irritation of doubt, which is the motive for thinking, thought relaxes and comes to rest for a moment when belief is reached. But since belief is a rule of action, the application of which involves further doubt and further thought, at the same time that is a stopping- place, it is also a new starting- place for thought.

The final upshot of thinking is the exercise of volition and of this thought no longer forms a part; but belief is only a stadium of mental action, an effect upon our nature due to thought, which will influence future thinking.

Charles Sanders Pierce wrote those thoughts in his 1878 essay, How to Make our Ideas Clear. Pierce is considered the father pragmatism. Pierce’s definition of a belief does help us establish a mental road of choice when it comes to what to believe or what we should believe. We don’t use his three-step approach to establishing a belief consciously, but there’s no doubt we use them automatically. Our beliefs create the reality we experience.

Our beliefs are habits. They are our inner addictions that shape our daily lives. We don’t examine our beliefs, but if we did we would have a pretty good idea which probability in our mental stadium would be the victor in our game of choices. We choose our actions from our pool of vacillating and non-vacillating beliefs. Vacillating beliefs are the thoughts that sit on the fence of an established belief and fall where the winds of uncertainty takes them. Non-vacillating beliefs are those beliefs that are rooted in the genetic quicksand of unrecorded time. Every thought falls into some category of mental action. Once our thoughts are in a specific category they become physical expressions.

No comments: