1. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    12 Nov '07 22:521 edit
    Is it ever noble to believe something without having good grounds to believe it?

    Is it ever ignoble to believe something even with good grounds for believing it?
  2. Hmmm . . .
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    12 Nov '07 23:24
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    Is it ever noble to believe something without having good grounds to believe it?

    Is it ever ignoble to believe something even with good grounds for believing it?
    Wow—that goes right to the heart of some existentialist philosophy. (Don Quixote comes to mind, as in Unamumo’s The Tragic Sense of Life.)

    Depending on what you mean by nobility, I think I’d answer “yes” to the first question; not sure about the second. On the other hand, I’m so damned Camusian that...

    A key here might be the distinction between reason and aesthetics? I tend to place great emphasis on aesthetics in living a eudaimonic life...

    Got to think about it a bit. Damned good question.
  3. England
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    13 Nov '07 11:01
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    Is it ever noble to believe something without having good grounds to believe it?

    Is it ever ignoble to believe something even with good grounds for believing it?
    ive heard of people who think the world is flat, aliens visiting earth, noble or ignoble they cause no harm to anyone,
  4. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    14 Nov '07 13:361 edit
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    Is it ever noble to believe something without having good grounds to believe it?

    Is it ever ignoble to believe something even with good grounds for believing it?
    Let me concretize this:

    Could it be noble to believe in a decent God even if the evidence tends to contraindicate His existence?

    Could it be ignoble not to believe in a decent God even if the evidence tends to indicate His non-existence?
  5. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    14 Nov '07 13:502 edits
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Wow—that goes right to the heart of some existentialist philosophy. (Don Quixote comes to mind, as in Unamumo’s The Tragic Sense of Life.)

    Depending on what you mean by nobility, I think I’d answer “yes” to the first question; not sure about the second. On the other hand, I’m so damned Camusian that...

    A key here might be the distinction betw ...[text shortened]... aesthetics in living a eudaimonic life...

    Got to think about it a bit. Damned good question.
    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 sufficiently ethically justified by being rationally justified. For example, atheists most often criticize theists for lacking proper grounds for their beliefs. But, even if such criticisms are successful, do they automatically provide grounds for arguing against the value of holding such beliefs? Indeed, could people be ethically justified in holding, or even required to hold, beliefs that lack proper grounds, because of the value (in particular, the nobility) entailing in holding them?

    I think this line of thinking is potentially the essence of the fideistic case for belief in God made by thinkers like (as you point out) Unamuno, and more recently by writers like Martin Gardner ( "The whys of a philosophical scrivener" ).

    Addendum: I once had a copy of the "The tragic sense of life". However, our new puppy tore it to shreds. I feel this event had some symbolic significance, but quite what, I don't know.
  6. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    14 Nov '07 13:53
    Originally posted by stoker
    ive heard of people who think the world is flat, aliens visiting earth, noble or ignoble they cause no harm to anyone,
    Is failure to cause harm either a good ground to hold, or a good motive for holding, a belief?
  7. Hmmm . . .
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    14 Nov '07 18:101 edit
    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...)
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    15 Nov '07 02:02
    I personally think that nobility applies to actions, not to beliefs. I don't myself think that some beliefs, or even ideas, are more noble than others.
  9. England
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    15 Nov '07 12:29
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    Is failure to cause harm either a good ground to hold, or a good motive for holding, a belief?
    no but its better than shooting them that do not belive your view
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    15 Nov '07 13:40
    Originally posted by vistesd
    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”.
    Actually the real danger lies in the fact that when enough people hold a belief for ethical reasons, they pass on the belief to others especial children and often the ethical reason gets lost along the way until you have a large number of people all suffering a delusion which is not beneficial to them.
    Also, holding a belief for ethical reasons leads to making it generally acceptable to hold irrational beliefs which eventually leads to a breeding ground for extremism etc.
    stokers claim that beliefs are harmless is incorrect. All beliefs can and do cause harm and sometimes benefits both to those who hold the beliefs and to others.
  11. Hmmm . . .
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    15 Nov '07 19:09
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Actually the real danger lies in the fact that when enough people hold a belief for ethical reasons, they pass on the belief to others especial children and often the ethical reason gets lost along the way until you have a large number of people all suffering a delusion which is not beneficial to them.
    Also, holding a belief for ethical reasons leads to ...[text shortened]... s can and do cause harm and sometimes benefits both to those who hold the beliefs and to others.
    I tend to agree. My point had to do, in part, about when a “belief” is really a “belief.”

    Despite the older meaning, I suspect it is best to use the word now only for conclusions drawn on the basis of empirical and rational justifications, in such a way that any belief is defeasible on those bases. Otherwise, it all gets as confused as our discussions of “faith.”
  12. Standard memberKellyJay
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    15 Nov '07 20:121 edit
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    Is it ever noble to believe something without having good grounds to believe it?

    Is it ever ignoble to believe something even with good grounds for believing it?
    This is all just a judgment call isn't it, if you prefer the belief for
    whatever reason it is good, if not bad. Unless you have some
    sort of plum line for lining up how things 'ought to be valued' we
    are just left with, I like this so....
    Kelly
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