Is faith synonymous with self-delusion?

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Re: Is faith synonymous with self-delusion?

Post Number:#421  Postby Prismatic » May 19th, 2012, 11:01 pm

Scott wrote: Again, I would say that the inductive evidence is very weak evidence that "something is wrong" so to speak. However, I think that is also a moot point. It seems to me like in the absence of any evidence that 'something is not wrong' it would be delusional to believe something is not wrong regardless of whether I had that little bit of evidence that something is wrong. (In reality, I think I would also have evidence even if equally weak that something is not wrong because I could induce from the fact that most days nothing goes wrong; her habits are regular but so is things not going wrong which seems to be two weak inductions that cancel each other out.) I just don't see why that tiny bit of evidence against the evidence-less belief turns it into delusion, particularly if the evidence-less belief is held confidently. Does someone who reasonably suspects something therefore believe it? If not, then the utter lack of evidence is so far removed from the probable cause that would warrant belief that the little extra evidence against isn't needed to make the person delusional because the person doesn't even have enough evidence to reasonably suspect the thing let alone have probable cause.


Again, I suspect that the entire question turns on whether or not you consider inductive experience to constitute evidence and if so, what interpretation you place upon it.
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Re: Is faith synonymous with self-delusion?



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Re: Is faith synonymous with self-delusion?

Post Number:#422  Postby Scott » May 19th, 2012, 11:52 pm

I don't understand why.

First, for the sake of argument, let's temporarily assume that inductive experience does constitute evidence. (Let's also ignore any evidence that nothing is wrong with my wife in the hypothetical example such as an induction based on the previous experience that all other nights nothing has gone wrong, so that to match with the topic there is no evidence that nothing is wrong.) Is my hypothetical belief that nothing is wrong delusional? You agree with me in the case and we both say, yes, because as long as there is a little evidence to the contrary and no evidence to support the belief then we both say it is delusional.

Now, let's assume that that little bit of induction from experience doesn't count as evidence. (Again we also have to ignore any evidence that nothing is wrong with my wife in the hypothetical example such as an induction based on the previous experience that all other nights nothing has gone wrong, so that to match with the topic there is no evidence that nothing is wrong.) Now we have no evidence either way. Is it delusional to believe nothing is wrong with my wife even though I have no evidence at all for it? I would say yes, it is still delusional under these pretenses. (However, I happen to think it does count as evidence, but just very slight evidence. But that is moot here since I think it is delusional regardless.)

I don't see what this example is supposed to show. I think the presence of a little bit of evidence to the contrary or not doesn't change whether or not it is delusion so what does it matter to my argument if the inductive evidence counts or not?

I don't understand why you think it is delusional to believe something when there is no evidence for it but ever so slightly some evidence against it, yet you don't think it is delusional to believe that thing when there is no evidence for it and no evidence against it. What difference does that little bit of evidence make when we are so far off from probable cause in either direction?
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Re: Is faith synonymous with self-delusion?

Post Number:#423  Postby James195101 » May 20th, 2012, 5:00 am

The conscious brain needs faith to join the roller coaster provided by the sub-conscious brain. The sub-conscious is directing its organism (us) to proceed through the human life phases, which we (the conscious brain) experience via emotions, feelings, desires, and perhaps even 'still small voices'. The sub-conscious brain feels like god to the conscious brain - the sub-conscious does have own own best interests at heart even if we do not fully understand them. People know this faith is essential and so fiercely defend whatever mechanism they need to prop up the faith, even if it is illogical (miracles etc).
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Re: Is faith synonymous with self-delusion?

Post Number:#424  Postby Prismatic » May 20th, 2012, 3:11 pm

Scott wrote: I don't understand why you think it is delusional to believe something when there is no evidence for it but ever so slightly some evidence against it, yet you don't think it is delusional to believe that thing when there is no evidence for it and no evidence against it. What difference does that little bit of evidence make when we are so far off from probable cause in either direction?


In practice it makes little difference, but in maintaining clarity of thought it seems to me to make a respectable difference. It is deluding yourself to ignore evidence you have no matter whether large or small, while in the absence of any evidence whatever you are free to hypothesize and take something, at least for the time being, on faith. You are still likely often to be in the wrong and you may legitimately be called irrational, but not, I think delusional. As soon as valid evidence appears, you are obliged to withdraw from speculation and look for more evidence.

The important point is as Clifford put it,
To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.
Everywhere I have sought peace and never found it except in a corner with a book. —Thomas à Kempis
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Re: Is faith synonymous with self-delusion?

Post Number:#425  Postby Ser10Rec1pr0 » May 21st, 2012, 8:52 am

Just because people claim faith is no reason to accept that it is faith. The 20th century sociologist William I. Thomas wrote something to the effect (as cited by Erving Goffman) that we do not live statistically and scientifically but by inference: we invite friends over and we infer from past experience that they will not steal our good silverware.

We might say that we have faith, but faith with its religious implications seems too strong a word for the examples here. If the wife maintains this “faith” (infers her husband is not cheating), then the evidence, however strong it may seem to us, is apparently not so strong. If there is a pattern of such occasions (more panties, lipstick on a shirt collar; and these days the usually benign “other people you may know” on Facebook), that so-called faith can dwindle. Gregory Bateson wrote that mammals (including human beings) arrange their lives on patterns of experience or episodes; not single events.

By these examples, we are not told of any previous experience on the part of the wife or mother that should be cause to shake the faith, although unlike the wife and the suspicious underwear, mom there is operating solely on what her son told her. “Underqualified” is an appellation in the narrative: we are not told that the prospective employer thought he was underqualified or whether mom somehow knows he’s underqualified; we’re told that others were much more qualified.

These seem more examples of what Sartre called bad faith: deliberate ignorance; “I don’t wanna know” (whether he’s cheating, whether someone else got the job). This bad faith, taken to extreme, may result in delusion.
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Re: Is faith synonymous with self-delusion?

Post Number:#426  Postby Scott » May 21st, 2012, 9:41 am

When people say that they have 'belief not based on material evidence or logical proof' in the context of the examples in the OP, I think they are admitting that their belief simply doesn't match up with evidence. This is why I call it self-delusion rather than just delusion. The person not only seems delusional, but they seem to diagnosis themselves and actively will themselves to continue to be delusional.

Ser10Rec1pr0, you say that deliberate ignorance is indeed delusion in the extreme. But why only the extreme?

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Prismatic, you have given me something to think about. Thank you!
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