Tuesday, December 8, 2015

'What You Believe Depends on Where You Were Born'?

Here’s another Facebook polemic to appear on my radar.

If, as the post suggests, all of our beliefs about religion are merely culturally determined,[1] then, to maintain consistency, we should say that the belief that “what you believe depends on where you were born and who you were born to” itself depends on where you were born and who you were born to.

To put it slightly differently, a simple extension of the operative reasoning would suggest that those who embrace such “-isms” as agnosticism, atheism, pluralism, so-called “religious skepticism” and so on, do so merely because they are products of, for example, 21st-century American culture.

Does it therefore follow that agnosticism, atheism, pluralism or skepticism are not true, cannot be known to be true[2] or are not worth arguing for (or against)?

If so, then the whole point of this picture-text is apparently undermined. (For what is this supposed to be, other than an attempt to argue for something like agnosticism, atheism, pluralism, so-called “religious skepticism”?[3])

I submit that it is precisely in the arena of philosophy that one becomes able, even if to a limited degree, to transcend the accidents of our birth in terms of our belief sets. However, if this is even remotely correct, then the kind of absolute, environmental belief-determinism seemingly underlying the picture-text is incorrect.


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Zeitgeist-Style Polemics


[1] Here’s a possible objection. The picture text says that our beliefs “depend on” facts about our physical origins (and perhaps upbringing, although this is not stated); it does not say that our beliefs are “determined.” This is a fair point, as far as it goes. But it does not seem to me to go far. After all, if “stop fighting over who is right” is supposed to entail a cessation of philosophical argument, then it would seem that the post’s author despairs over being able to alter anyone’s belief-set by rational means. However, one might worry, as I do, that the inability to modify our “in-born” beliefs by engaging in debate and discussion, implies (if not logically, then at least by something like “implicature”) that our unalterable beliefs are determined in some fairly firm sense.

[2] In the philosophical sense of “justified true belief” – excluding Gettier cases.

[3] Admittedly, the word "fight" is ambiguous and casts doubt on the effectiveness of my rebuttal, here. Some might read the word "fight" in the sense of armed, physical conflict. However, I would maintain that "argue over" is a relevant, possible sense. Additionally, if the avoidance of actual war is uppermost in a reader's mind, I would suggest that he or she endorse philosophical disputation as the preferred means of religious-conflict resolution. For if combat, "crusade," "jihad" or whatever are really in view, the injunction to "stop fighting" seems futile. Reasoning, on the other hand, is not obviously ineffectual. Doubtless, fideists and misologists would disapprove, but they could scarcely rationally object without contradicting themselves.

1 comment:

  1. Stop Fighting, Stop Breathing, Stop Living: Just Stop--Metro-Sexuals Have Commanded

    Determinism, absolute cause-effect, is impossible to deny in reason, and it doesn't matter where one was born to arrive at this determinist-rationalist conclusion.

    And determinism depends on nothing but the objective reality premise/assumption.

    Where one is born is where the various cultural-sociologic premises exist with which one deals throughout life, at least for a while as one grows and develops.

    Stop fighting?--impossible, as humans are sinners and must fight--it's determined. And what's right, or truthful, depends only upon the objective standard.

    Of course, we should all stop fighting over what's "right" as the author of the thesis diatribe and ethical formulaic has determined it for us, another triumph in the age of touchy-feely, artsy-craftsy, fuzzy-wuzzy just prior to world-wide economic collapse which was brought about by just such clever philosophizing. Being clever is end-all and be-all for the ruling metro-sexuals.