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Undoubting and Pointless
Friday, June 02, 2006

    "Every individual has a philosophy, a system of beliefs about philosophical issues such as love, the 'good life,' death, the value of money, duty to country, and the role of the government. [...] the development of a philosophy rest ultimately on the individual. Whether one's philosophy is sophisticated or elementary, enduring or changeable, it cannot be a task delegated to others."

    Classical Philosophical Questions (7th edition).
Given such responsibility, can we realistically construct a set of beliefs that are in accordance with the world around us?

Charles Sanders Pierce, said to the be "most profound and original" of US philosophers, explored in his essay The Fixation of Belief four distinct approaches that aid in arriving at personal beliefs.

Every experience during our lifetimes gives shape to our reasoning: we are affected by everything we read, anything we are taught, or by the actions of our loved ones. To Pierce, these experiences lead to methodologies that aid in fixing our beliefs: method of tenacity, method of authority, method of intuition, and method of science.

Seeking to understand our surroundings is nothing more than seeking the clarity of belief, i.e., go from a state of doubt to that of a state of knowing, which is essentially the belief that we are no longer in a state of doubt. However, the process is not entirely free of obstacles. Pierce wrote, "both doubt and belief have positive effects upon us, though very different ones." Belief makes us behave in certain ways when action is required. Doubt, on the other hand, has only a flight effect on behaviour, i.e., it only "simulates" action until doubt is erased.

If we are rational animals, after exhausting every option and seeking truth through logic and scientific observations we must arrive at irrefutable facts--"A is A"--however, everything is personal belief based on supposed objective deductions. But we must believe that rationality rules in order to individually accept reality as it is being computed quark by quark. Letting others decide for ourselves may leave us in convenient states of docile oblivion and blissful ignorance--both permanents states of doubt.

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