Belief as Cop Out

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honorentheos
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by honorentheos »

Kishkumen wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:15 pm
honorentheos wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:30 am
Why point that out? Because it touches on my reading of the OP. I don't think there is something inauthentic in engaging in a subject that has otherwise inaccessible depth without intense effort so long as a person is being honest with themselves and others in what that engagement is, its limitations, and also its utility to me as an individual. We are inevitably limited in our ability to "be" experts in anything, and if we limited our living to only engaging with areas where we are genuinely expert, we'd all be pinpoint deep but narrow individuals. Authenticity is not that. Being human is to be evolving, uneven, inquisitive. It's best when that inherently also involves individual integrity. But the role of a community changes the dynamic. To keep with the example already used, engaging with classic language specialists inevitably means engaging with a community that has invested a lot of effort into something whose utility is defined by the community more than it is recognized by a wider society. Unless somethings having a moment in the spotlight as a fad, most things that require a lot of effort to master and have a certain esoteric value are going to be under appreciated by society as a whole. There is inherently a need to defend the value of that investment that becomes part of the communal identity where the investment is great but society doesn't value it the same way the ingroup does. Communities have hierarchies, they have gatekeeping, they have metrics of measuring and comparing. Communities are, by nature, kinetic in their influence on those on the outside while static in their influence on those on the inside. They can attempt to repel outsiders or compel them to make a big change by engaging and becoming a part of the community. But often inside, the energy and effort exerted by the community is all positioning and inertia. And the path of least resistance there is using the minimal amount of doing to achieve the greatest amount of benefit, right? In other words, the doing can more readily lead to seeming rather than becoming as an authentic individual in order to reinforce one's being a member of the community. Becoming a member of the community may be its own kind of becoming, but right now I'd need to invest more thought into what makes that different than just giving in to the urge to seem that I don't see at the moment.

So the OP's closing note struck me as out of harmony with the idea of being rather than just seeming. The doing, expressed in the OP as I read it, has the appearance of caving in to the pressure of the community to exchange one's individual authenticity for acceptance.

I've experienced communities of very capable people who have achieved a level of indifference towards appearance and opinion. And my experience with that is in general, communities that focus heavily on expression are not helpful to the person interested in being rather than seeming.
Thank you for this thought-provoking and well-written post, honor. It is up to and even surpasses your usual standard of excellence. What you say challenges me, as is so often the case. You have given me a lot to think about by introducing "becoming" into the mix. Yes, I admit that the closing note was out of harmony with the rest. It was deliberately so because I like to question myself and my own commitment to my position. We are all regularly challenged by communities we engage with in one way or another to seem rather than be on occasion. My guess is that we find ourselves compromising because it is taxing to meet that challenge every time it pops up. Direct resistance is usually saved for when it really matters.

As an example if those times that can really matter, there were things I simply refused to do as an LDS person in order to seem like I was in line with what the Brethren were saying God wanted us to do. I would not support Proposition 8, for example. And I was adamant about that to the point of verbally telling my bishop (in person) that I would not support those efforts. In the scheme of things, that was not a big deal, but it was a big deal to me because of the position that the LDS Church had maneuvered me into. Once you go through the endowment, as it was configured at the time I did, they basically have you where they want you. They can tell you to jump off a cliff and you have basically agreed in advance to do that. This is one of the reasons that I am opposed to the endowment as it was configured at the time--it equated the Church with God.

This is one reason that I refuse to be LDS. Perhaps the biggest reason. The Church is not God and it should not put itself in the position of God. The person who claims to speak for God still does not have (and cannot have) the pellucid connection to the divine to arrogate divine authority to him/herself. Acting in the capacity of one who knows the divine will in the way the LDS Church does is the most brazen act of seeming in the world. To seem in such an extreme is so brazen, in fact, that for some it is transformed into being, as those who buy it assume that no one would dare seem on that level of conviction. I find it striking in the Doctrine & Covenants when Joseph Smith speaks for Jesus. Speaks for God. That is pretty disturbing stuff, when you think about it.
You've given me much to think about with the topic as well, Kishkumen, and I appreciate the engagement it demands. I want to come back to the ideas you present at the end above as it seems to get at the idea you first raised in the OP about seeking communities that are worthy. I'm not sure yet how to recognize one, at least initially.
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Kishkumen
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Kishkumen »

dastardly stem wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:48 pm
Reverend, I appreciate the thread and the various thoughts being thrown around. I'm feeling stuck on this thought.

How you use "imagination" to characterize someone who sees no God, who can't be seen, in the cosmos is throwing me for a loop. Isn't it lack of imagination to not add unknowns to explanations of the cosmos? To say it's imagination for one to think there is no God interacting in the universe seems to legitimize imagination as a valuable explanation of reality. As if it's true to suggest the earth is 6,000 years old, created by an unseen power speaking things into existence, created into a state that makes it appear the earth is much older, and making it appear evolution occurred.

And now that feels counter-intuitive to the issues you raise as per belief. Suddenly "I imagine..." is the same as "I believe..." and the weakness of these two phrases are on the same plane. If so, then imagination and belief are synonymous and it seems to render an "I know..." statement meaningless.
Many thanks for this excellent post, Prof. Stem. Yes! OK, so I view the human imagination as the collective and individual faculty whereby we make meaningful and useful the mass of sense perceptions we are bombarded with, in the first place, and then the extrapolations from those sense perceptions that are not as solidly grounded. So, imagination, by my reckoning, is fundamental to consciousness and is very nearly synonymous with it. Somewhere in the history of the evolution of human consciousness, gods became part of the human imaginaire. Once in that imaginaire, the gods were there to work with, work around, and even reject. All of those strategies require engaging with the imagination. Most of the time what we call reality is as much things as we imagine them. Many things we unconsciously accept as certainties fall into this category. It would be very unproductive for us to characterize these things as imaginings. Those we try to communicate with would lack a frame of reference and misunderstandings would result. For those reasons, I would not use, “I imagine” in place of “I believe,” although I think it would be more accurate.

Imagine should have the advantage of being a more active exercise of our mental faculties, but our civilization has downgraded the term for various reasons, making it sound weak as you say.
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Morley
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Morley »

Kishkumen wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:20 pm
So, imagination, by my reckoning, is fundamental to consciousness and is very nearly synonymous with it. Somewhere in the history of the evolution of human consciousness, gods became part of the human imaginaire. Once in that imaginaire, the gods were there to work with, work around, and even reject. All of those strategies require engaging with the imagination. Most of the time what we call reality is as much things as we imagine them. Many things we unconsciously accept as certainties fall into this category. It would be very unproductive for us to characterize these things as imaginings. Those we try to communicate with would lack a frame of reference and misunderstandings would result. For those reasons, I would not use, “I imagine” in place of “I believe,” although I think it would be more accurate.
I've monitored this thread with interest. Reverend, I'm going to ask you to clarify.

If I understand you correctly, you're using 'imagination' to talk about the shared fictions that are the grease for human culture. You mention god, but I'd venture that you'd include concepts like money, stock markets, marriage, justice, and race (to give a few examples). Am I following?

.
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Kishkumen
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Kishkumen »

Morley wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:06 pm
I've monitored this thread with interest. Reverend, I'm going to ask you to clarify.

If I understand you correctly, you're using 'imagination' to talk about the shared fictions that are the grease for human culture. You mention god, but I'd venture that you'd include concepts like money, stock markets, marriage, justice, and race (to give a few examples). Am I following?
Yes, that's right, but it is also much more foundational and pervasive than that. The process of gaining awareness as a human being is glued together with imagination, in my view. We perceive, and then we organize those perceptions as we are taught to do so by interacting with and observing others and the environment. One of the reasons I am not really endeared to the new emphasis on experience in Religious Studies a la Ann Taves is that it robs the imagination to bolster the importance of primary experience, whereas I think religious experiences are only intelligible within the prevailing imaginaire.
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Morley
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Morley »

Kishkumen wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:43 pm
Yes, that's right, but it is also much more foundational and pervasive than that. The process of gaining awareness as a human being is glued together with imagination, in my view. We perceive, and then we organize those perceptions as we are taught to do so by interacting with and observing others and the environment. One of the reasons I am not really endeared to the new emphasis on experience in Religious Studies a la Ann Taves is that it robs the imagination to bolster the importance of primary experience, whereas I think religious experiences are only intelligible within the prevailing imaginaire.
Thanks.


edit: I had another question, but went back and reread. It was answered as much as it's going to be, upthread, so I'm deleting.
Res Ipsa
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Res Ipsa »

Kishkumen wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:20 pm
dastardly stem wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:48 pm
Reverend, I appreciate the thread and the various thoughts being thrown around. I'm feeling stuck on this thought.

How you use "imagination" to characterize someone who sees no God, who can't be seen, in the cosmos is throwing me for a loop. Isn't it lack of imagination to not add unknowns to explanations of the cosmos? To say it's imagination for one to think there is no God interacting in the universe seems to legitimize imagination as a valuable explanation of reality. As if it's true to suggest the earth is 6,000 years old, created by an unseen power speaking things into existence, created into a state that makes it appear the earth is much older, and making it appear evolution occurred.

And now that feels counter-intuitive to the issues you raise as per belief. Suddenly "I imagine..." is the same as "I believe..." and the weakness of these two phrases are on the same plane. If so, then imagination and belief are synonymous and it seems to render an "I know..." statement meaningless.
Many thanks for this excellent post, Prof. Stem. Yes! OK, so I view the human imagination as the collective and individual faculty whereby we make meaningful and useful the mass of sense perceptions we are bombarded with, in the first place, and then the extrapolations from those sense perceptions that are not as solidly grounded. So, imagination, by my reckoning, is fundamental to consciousness and is very nearly synonymous with it. Somewhere in the history of the evolution of human consciousness, gods became part of the human imaginaire. Once in that imaginaire, the gods were there to work with, work around, and even reject. All of those strategies require engaging with the imagination. Most of the time what we call reality is as much things as we imagine them. Many things we unconsciously accept as certainties fall into this category. It would be very unproductive for us to characterize these things as imaginings. Those we try to communicate with would lack a frame of reference and misunderstandings would result. For those reasons, I would not use, “I imagine” in place of “I believe,” although I think it would be more accurate.

Imagine should have the advantage of being a more active exercise of our mental faculties, but our civilization has downgraded the term for various reasons, making it sound weak as you say.
So, reality as shared stories?
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” -- Voltaire
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Kishkumen
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Kishkumen »

I saw the question about narratives, and I would say that narratives are a higher order element of it, but the organization of sense perceptions and basic paradigms operates on a more fundamental level before narration is engaged.
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Res Ipsa
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Res Ipsa »

Kishkumen wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:19 pm
I saw the question about narratives, and I would say that narratives are a higher order element of it, but the organization of sense perceptions and basic paradigms operates on a more fundamental level before narration is engaged.
Hmmm. I think of perception and paradigm formation as story telling. But I hadn't gotten as far thinking about shared stories. More to think about. Thank you again for the topic and your thoughts.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” -- Voltaire
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Kishkumen
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Kishkumen »

Res Ipsa wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:23 pm
Hmmm. I think of perception and paradigm formation as story telling. But I hadn't gotten as far thinking about shared stories. More to think about. Thank you again for the topic and your thoughts.
I am not a specialist in human development, so I may be mistaken. My assumption is based on the idea that our perceptions are being organized before we can apprehend, let alone tell, stories. But honestly I would love to know anything more accurate that may help me get a better handle on things.
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Res Ipsa
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Res Ipsa »

Kishkumen wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 1:46 am
Res Ipsa wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:23 pm
Hmmm. I think of perception and paradigm formation as story telling. But I hadn't gotten as far thinking about shared stories. More to think about. Thank you again for the topic and your thoughts.
I am not a specialist in human development, so I may be mistaken. My assumption is based on the idea that our perceptions are being organized before we can apprehend, let alone tell, stories. But honestly I would love to know anything more accurate that may help me get a better handle on things.
I’m not either—just spitballing. I think I misunderstood what you were describing. I thought you were describing how the common story is formed. I think you must be right. I thinks the brain needs the things you describe before it can tell a story, even to itself.

If only there were someone on the board with education and experience in child development...
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” -- Voltaire
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