Thursday, September 23, 2010

The limits of beliefs

Andrew D Atkin

One thing that wears me down a bit is the mantra coming from the modernistic preachers who talk about the need for a world of love and compassion and all those innocent and idealistic things. They speak as though belief in the human virtues alone can solve the worlds problems - if only we all "believe in them".

They are right in that the core of the worlds enduring problems is ultimately the human condition. But wrong in observing it, understanding it, and knowing what to do about it.

From my outlook the new-age preachers have one key thing in common: They believe in beliefs. They believe that people can feel compassion, for example, by simply believing that they should...and then from there they try to encourage people to convert their idealised beliefs into some kind of life-practice. Alas, this is where they have it completely wrong.

The truth is real feelings are what they are, and they are an existential reality that goes beyond what can be derived (or modified) via force-of-will or subjective idealism. The only "humanity" that you can create from beliefs alone is the fantasy that you are feeling something that you are not.

Though idealistic beliefs which support social standards are important as a control system, we still need to front-up to what they ultimately are, because beliefs are insecure for the service of a stabilising social effect.

Take "respectfulness" for the sake of example: A person can steadfastly believe in being respectful to others yet, as a "primary self" reality, feel virtually no true respect for anyone at all (most likely due to deep detachment, but that's another topic). A person like this will accidentally screw-up and crap on people all the time and they will do as such probably without even knowing it, or do as such in the name of some empty rationalisation. Because when what's real isn't really there, within the person, we always screw-up for when our behaviour is not being carefully self-monitored. Hence; the unreliability of just believing in being respectful, as opposed to actually being respectful. That's the point.

Yes we need beliefs regarding "who we should be" to facilitate standards and morality etc, but at the end of the day all of this stuff is still only a social-control system. Controlling what? The modern human condition. That is, our common emotional corruption.

See my Understanding Mental Sickness to learn about this:

We can't forget that the real problem of the human condition is not so much what we believe--or "believe in"--but what we feel and don't feel. What we feel is who we are before anything else - that's what defines our human reality.

So, it would be nice if all those new-age guys could understand this, and understand that the war to end all wars will be the war against deprivation, and most importantly childhood deprivation - not the war against "bad ideas". Because deprivation is where the true (original) corruption is created. Deprivation is what gives birth to the need for all those moralistic control systems which we have [understandably and probably wisely] been trained to apply so much esteem to.

I conclude that our beliefs which support self-control are important in that they help to hold our society together. But we should never believe in the functionality of beliefs to the point where we deny the ultimate truths behind them, because we might then never confront and in turn deal with those ultimate causes.

-And indeed, to say, the functional corruption of a society--of which comes from the under-enforcement of moral standards--may only be making transparent a deeper level of corruption that was already there.