The basis of living is that we must act. All living is action in some direction including if we act by remaining passive. Then consequently our actions shape our world and create the necessary preconditions for our subsequent actions (a reflexive process, a relatively unknown, crucially important idea which I’ll discuss at length in a later post). Unfortunately for us we’re all comprehensively naive to the actual nature of the world we live in and within that world we fail catastrophically at conceptualizing ourselves and our place in that world. This leaves us in the situation where we are forced to act based on limited information.
Belief is defined as:
Given that we must act and we lack rigorous proof of the correct direction to follow with our actions we are therefore forced to believe in something. For example; every human interaction in which we take part we put belief into the thought the other person will react in a certain way, we never know how others will act but if we did not have the ability to believe and commit to this belief we’d be permanently crippled by inaction leaving us incapable of making a single human interaction.
This process then generalises to every area of life from the most basic beliefs we can hold such as, the floor will not collapse under my weight enabling us to literally take our first step, to our deepest spiritual and meta-physical beliefs. This brings me to my major contention. Atheism, nihilism, and postmodernism have become the predominant belief structures within modern western society and are only growing. These ideologies are evil because not only do they suck meaning from our lives but also destroy our ability to act and to make life-furthering decisions that contribute to the happiness and wellbeing of ourselves and all those around us. One of the most insidious values shared among western cultures is the shame associated with being wrong. This leads us consistently to the conclusion that if we cannot be certain about something we should say “I don’t know”. We are regularly made to feel stupid for believing even though it is the essential condition. While skepticism is valuable in contexts such as science and politics it is thoroughly destructive on a personal level especially when taken to extremes. When we reject belief we reject life itself. Belief leads to action but potentially more importantly belief leads to meaning in action and therefore meaning in our lives.
Now even if we can agree on this conclusion we’re left with the hurdle of our very human aversion to being wrong. If we have limited information yet are forced to act under the currently accepted strictly objective based definition of “the truth” we have reached an impasse. Thankfully we have one the widely regarded greatest minds of all time Friedrich Nietzsche to come to the rescue and help us redefine “the truth”.
The falseness of an opinion is not for us any objection to it… The question is how far an opinion is life-furthering, life-preserving, species-preserving perhaps species-rearing, we are fundamentally inclined to maintain that the falsest opinions are the most indispensable to us. – Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil, Section 4)
What this allows us is to understand any life furthering belief to be the truth. To illustrate this point I will use the example of love. Have you ever been in love? Do you remember how you saw that oh so perfect angel laying next to you, how they were just the most fantastic being to ever take a breath? Even their imperfections were the most beautiful things in the world, they could have been scars, hairy arms or fold out VW/dumbo ears and goddamn these things we find so pretty. And if you have ever fallen out of love you’d be familiar with the experience of realising our perfect angel wasn’t so perfect after all but it was our belief in their perfect light that allowed us to love in the first place. Love is probably the deepest and greatest human experience which would be impossible if we did not allow ourselves to hold objectively false opinions. I don’t know about you but I would much rather experience love than experience being correct.
And believing isn’t easy, believing takes courage, buckets of courage. While promoting the best of us it also requires the greatest strength we can muster. Believing is life-promoting but life is not just about happiness. Living is the most difficult thing you will ever do and the more you dare to live the more courage and strength you will require. Once again fortunately for us mankind has known this millennia so we’ve developed things, namely art, ritual, and culture to assist us in taking the great leap of living. For life is a theatre for action and therefore we’ve created the stage to inspire us to sing the first lines. What else is music but a call to action?
What are the essential elements to a song? There’s a rhythm like there undoubtedly is to life itself, there is melody but most of all there is contention. Every song stands for something just like every life should stand for something. In the words of holocaust survivor Victor Frankl,
Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.
The major contention of this blog is make clear the need to find your meaning in life and explore how to find that. This adventure takes the brave first step of forcing yourself to believe, and while difficult, no step holds the potential to be so life-furthering.
The ideas I will float in this forum are primarily based on applied neuroscience while I endeavour to make these concepts as applicable and understandable as possible while fitting these ideas into the framework provided by our current world, philosophy and existing spiritual ideologies. Also I’ll make the occasional post regard economics, politics, or other issues where the social sciences have something to add to the public discussion. If you’re interested come along for the ride.
Forever beside you in the journey,