Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
You could be right about the answer to these questions revolving in part around the reason/aesthetics distinction. The prettiness of an idea may be a motive (but hardly a ground) for believing it, and vice versa for ugliness.
But I have mostly in mind a reason/ethics distinction.
In particular, I question whether beliefs are necessarily or suffici to shreds. I feel this event had some symbolic significance, but quite what, I don't know.
You know, I think I agree with your whole point here, with this caveat—
A “belief” held for ethical reasons (e.g., living a “noble” life), when such a “belief” cannot be rationally justified, seems to me to become something other than a “belief” in the conventional sense of that word. The danger seems to be when people try to derive an “is” from an “ought”.
If, however, someone says something like, “I choose
to ‘believe’ such and such, not because I have any rational/empirical grounds to think it is actually so, but because it informs my ability to live a richer life [whether aesthetically or ethically, or both]”—then I think “believe” takes on the older meaning of “holding something dear.” In that kind of case, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and beyond that I have no argument.
I also wonder to what degree ethics is informed by aesthetics, but I won’t belabor that point...
What I liked about The Tragic Sense of Life
was Unamuno’s stark integrity in this matter. (I haven’t read Gardner, but will add him to my list...)