1. The patient typically finds himself impelled by some deep, inner conviction that something is true, or right, or virtuous: a conviction that doesn't seem to owe anything to evidence or reason, but which, nevertheless, he feels as totally compelling and convincing. We doctors refer to such a belief as ``faith.''
2. Patients typically make a positive virtue of faith's being strong and unshakable, in spite of not being based upon evidence. Indeed, they may fell that the less evidence there is, the more virtuous the belief (see below).
This paradoxical idea that lack of evidence is a positive virtue where faith is concerned has something of the quality of a program that is self-sustaining, because it is self-referential (see the chapter ``On Viral Sentences and Self-Replicating Structures'' in Hofstadter, 1985). Once the proposition is believed, it automatically undermines opposition to itself. The ``lack of evidence is a virtue'' idea could be an admirable sidekick, ganging up with faith itself in a clique of mutually supportive viral programs.
The whole idea of being willing and able to believe something without or even in spite of the evidence just creeps me out. If you can do that, then you can believe ANYTHING, so what's the point of belief? You might as well just get a lobotomy, since you're not bothering to use your reasoning faculties at all.
Seeing this as a virtue just adds another horrific layer of creepiness to the whole mess.
These are particularly successful, virulent memes. Bleagh!
I prefer to use my faculties of reason and logic to try to figure out what makes sense in this world (what exists, what does not exist or is very very unlikely to exist, what I should believe, how I should treat other people and why, etc).
posted by beth at 1:27 PM on October 19, 2000
"I grant unwavering faith
to any devoted man who wants
to worship any form
"Disciplined by that faith,
he seeks the deity's favor;
this secured, he gains desires
that I myself grant."
- Bhagavad Gita 7.21-22
The third dogma, which Davidson claims can still be discerned in Quine’s work (and so can survive the rejection even of the analytic-synthetic distinction), consists in the idea that one can distinguish within knowledge or experience between a conceptual component (the ‘conceptual scheme’) and an empirical component (the 'empirical content') - the former is often taken to derive from language and the later from experience, nature or some form of 'sensory input'. (from here, but maybe this makes it clearer?)
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