Faith

This blog is a response to Existential Crisis

One thing that I have been recently inspired by is a multi-faceted approach to life. It seems that life (obviously?) is a concoction of many angles, situations,events, thoughts, etc. and the only reasonable way of approaching the infinite parameter space of life to filter out those aspects of life that you deem less important. It seems that several things are important to trying to cope with the vastness of reality that at times can feel defeating, impossible, and frustrating.

In reality, the multi-dimensional infiniteness of existence dwarfs us. However, developing many lenses through which to view the world allows for a more comprehensive and dynamic interpretation of day to day life. One of the principle problems with approach is that more ways you try to interpret the world the more assumptions you must make about that particular ‘perception.’ For example if you want to add historical perception to a situation you have have to assume something about the source of the information. This has brought me to realize (just in the past couple of days) that our ability to filter vastness of existence so that we can manage day-to-day life is highly reliant on faith. As we age and become wiser, we develop new and more complex perceptions and refine old ones, we also broaden our base of assumptions, which are necessary aspects of the perceptions themselves. The ability to not question the validity of these perception is effectively the faith that we rely on to build our base of collective knowledge.

I define faith very broadly. Faith is the ability to assume a (many) truth(s) with confidence. It is the certainty associated with fact. It is the absoluteness that we gauge life with. Faith is actually a continuous spectrum that ranges from doubt to certainty. We can never be absolutely doubtful or absolutely sure, but we can have faith. See the blog on knowledge for more on this. At some level this is essentially to all philosophical pursuits, academic or otherwise. It is both a powerful tool that must be used with caution and good intent.

Faith is the freedom to rely on something, so that you don’t get caught in an infinite loop of question with no answers, so that you can live your life in a consistent structured manner with our frustrations; faith allows us to live sanely.

I think that the origins of faith come from evolution. See the blog on biology and philosophy. As central nervous systems evolved animals started needing to rely on information about their environment, as the detected the world around them they developed instincts tailored to their environments. With the instincts came the faith that if it smelled like a nut it was a nut, looked safe to walk on it was safe to walk on, if I bury this food here it will be here later. All of these instincts our essentially rudimentary versions of faith. Although the vast majority of the animals of in that species have relied and thrived on these instincts/ faiths, there been many instances in which this faith, was not absolute and eventually failed. Animals have been poisoned by eating bad nuts, fell into holes they thought were safe, and starved due looters taking their food.

As humans developed bigger and bigger brains to interpret our existence, we started to require more faith to both ‘accept’ the bare minimum of working knowledge required for basic survival, but also the faith to accept that the seeming reality that our conscious minds exists within a much broader construct (existence).

One of the principle ways that we use faith is in our interpretation of knowledge and truth, which is discussed in the blog Knowledge.

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9 Responses to Faith

  1. Pingback: Knowledge « Active Philosophy

  2. deadondres says:

    I will have a longer response to this in a bit. It completely ties into Wittgenstein’s “On Certainty” that I am currently reading and hope to finish this morning:

    “A child must learn the use of colour words before it can ask for the name of a colour.”

  3. deadondres says:

    One think that is important to remember is that faith is a decision. An active action.

    • activephilosophy says:

      I do think it is technically a decision… but I think that on some level faith is required just to survive. We need to be able to assume certain things for life to make sense. We need the ‘inevitables’ of life to come true other wise there is no starting point.

      However when it comes to more complicated things like active philosophy,progressive society, and personal gain, I believe that Faith is indeed an active choice.

  4. deadondres says:

    You’re right. I’ve thought about it and to live we must rely on faith, faith that when we step somewhere our foot will land on firm ground, that gravity will force us grounded and we will not float away. We compare our expectations with other possibilities and make a decision (precognition).

    It is much tougher to answer whether to live requires knowledge of living or if to live is itself an active choice. Regarding the former: the characteristics of virus and other simple lifeforms suggest that life does not require knowledge of self to survive. Although the absence of a cut-off point is positively mysterious. As to the latter on some level the living must be determined, but it is a decision that is made by very deep levels of the brain. For example active meditation can lead to the dissolving of self. Some time ago I remember reading a neurological study that the part of the brain that connects it to the rest of the universe cools off and effectively shuts down, thus the oneness. This is an oversimplified and overly scientific explanation but it suffices.

    Now, I believe that emotions are superior survival techniques compared to a specialized evolution such as human ratiocination – mostly a method of communication within our own species – due to their prevalence in many forms of life. Emotions themselves rely on a sort of faith and force an inherent belief in our surroundings/intuitions. Undoubtedly useful.

    It was clearly a mistake to call faith an active decision – it is only an active decision in that it is an active decision by the so-called lower operations of the brain.

    This supports Freud’s theory that the subconscious is dominant over the conscious. For the conscious could decide to quit breathing, for example, and the brain will override the conscious part, allowing basic functions to resume. So survival depends on faith not only in our physical surroundings but also our fundamental psychological functions. It is funny that our own mind does not trust our thoughts to dictate its critical processes. This goes a long way towards explaining why the fuck am I doing this?

    By this evidence the active functions only constitute a small part of our conscious thought. The passive functions are in fact very useful. However, when things go wrong, it takes an active process to begin the healing. An example would be the way that language and forms of societal control takes advantage of these passive tendencies and limit life’s potential, and the corresponding immunological response is necessarily an active response. Popular unrest, and creative expression.

    This healing is the specialized evolution which gives humans an evolutionary advantage. Ability to change, but only through active thought and action.

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