Archives for posts with tag: belief

Today I ought to be redefined. I ought to be a graduate with a first class degree in Politics and International Relations. Perhaps the most surprising yet simultaneously obvious fact about this is that: I have not been redefined. Bare with me because I’m about to get philosophical a little (a lot) boastful and somewhat emotional.

Charles Taylor (my latest favourite philosopher) talks a lot about identification as a basis for belief. In short his message is this: your mind does not exist in the same way as your heart or liver does, however your mind is quite inexorably your own. What does this say? Well, that you define the objects in your life, as opposed to them defining you. I am not changed as a person due to my hard work, perseverance and intelligence. I am not defined by my CD rack, car, preference of blue over pink, or exceptional distaste for belief. I am defined by my own perception of myself.

What does a fat exhaust define?

I therefore happily admit that although I know a lot about Politics (Philosophy, Governance, Surveys, Statistics) and International Relations (History, Life, Human Rights, Decision making, Diplomacy, Propaganda, Fear, Security, Units, Actors, Belligerents, Strategies, Theories [the list keeps going so I’ll stop]) I am far from defined by this knowledge – in fact, I define this knowledge.

However, when I stare into Jesse’s eyes, and when my beautiful, young, vivacious wife steps through the door after a long day at work, I begin to realise that I am being redefined all the time. It has been my relationship to my family that has pushed me to these dramatic heights. I begin disagreeing with Charles Taylor at this point, because he limits himself to the person. Of course my heart and liver are my own and yet are objects that I define. They cannot be compared to my mind, which can redefine my environment at the hint of a revelation. However Taylor hasn’t grasped something that I know today, that I should have known yesterday, and that I’ll celebrate forever:

My family are in my head, they are the reason I remember to breathe, they nudge me as I slide into the horizon, unhindered by vanity and identification. I am me, I am Jesse, I am Kathleen. This isn’t love, this is life. This is what Ayn Rand called ‘shared values’. If you want this, you have to just let go of everything and take what’s left in your hands as softly, but firmly as possible. You don’t buy it, believe it or achieve it, you define it.

There is no need to be so emotional about the EU, by flying Union flags or talking about sovereignty and the Queen, because its flaws are plain to see. We ought to be positive about the positives and negative about the negatives. Right now the sceptics are negative about everything and the EU is positive about everything – both choose to ignore reality for political gain.

The reason scientists and academics are so advanced, yet politicians are retrograde, is because the most often quoted phrase heard from any rational thinker is, “I don’t know, I’m sure there is someone else more qualified to answer”. In contrast, politicians jump at the chance to claim that they “know” and that they are the best to make a judgement.

If critics of the EU want a proper debate about Europe’s future, they must admit when they “do not know”, otherwise they risk being dismissed.

The European Union does not understand those who are sceptical of it.

It talks past its critics and ignores obvious statistics. If you’re British you probably dislike the European Union. Only 24% of us trust the Commission (the EU executive) and 23% do not know. However a resounding 53% know that they certainly don’t. (This data was taken from the EU’s own survey, page 173).

Mainstream disapproval in the UK is perhaps most vocally represented by Daniel Hannan – a Conservative MEP – and his article is typical of the criticisms mounted against the EU. Mr. Hannan outlines a broad and largely accepted view of the European Union, that is, the reason Brits dislike it is that it tries to do too much, too quickly and with no popular support. The EU contrastingly believes that it is not doing enough in order to be trusted. The sceptics and believers are at loggerheads – unable to have a conversation as they talk past each other.

However, the evidence weighs in on the side of the sceptics. For the UK a staggering 71% of us believe we have no voice in Europe (p.157). The fact is that the EU is not directly democratic in practice, even if we can vote for our Members of European Parliament and it is our nationally elected politicians who delegate others to make the rest of the decisions.

So why are the sceptics not gaining an overwhelming force behind their cause?

Sceptics are not reliable leaders of their cause because they refute everything the EU does, even if they do not fully understand it.

Most of the criticism we read or hear is based on misinformation perceived through the blinkers of certainty. I’ve spoken about belief before in this blog, and to some extent the concept reappears. The ability for the Commission or dissenters to make a valid judgement is always caught up in their respective political beliefs.

Example: It is because Daniel Hannan (in the video below) does not “get it” with regard to international politics, that he believes dealing with undemocratic nations is somehow supporting undemocratic nations. He cannot see that the EU uses its international presence to lure and enable rather than force its undemocratic neighbours towards democracy. That’s because he doesn’t understand how states become democratic. It’s not his fault that he doesn’t “get it”, as such, but it is due to this that his other valid points are dismissed by the European Union.

Why do we hate the European Union? Because we do not feel like we own it, we feel that it owns us. Until we are able to rationally debate about the pros and cons of the EU, we will hate it even more.

Christopher Bradley

The end of the world came and went this Saturday as predicted. Not for me, nor for you, but nonetheless a few million people died on that fateful day. God may or may not have had anything to do with it – perhaps old age, poor health or bad luck may explain things with more ‘reality’ attached.

That is the question, ultimately. Is God responsible? real? there? here? Sometimes we like to define ourselves according to the question, ‘do you believe in God?’. The answers appear to be: Yes, No, I don’t know. If we’re being pedantic we would suggest the alternative response ‘which one?’ . But I contend that the only ‘truthful’ response can be: ‘who cares?’.

I do not mean this in a derogatory way at all, in fact I mean the opposite. It is exactly that belief, the ability to believe, and the uncertainty of our perceptions, which creates the ultimate enigma. The in-vogue philosopher, Slavoj Zizek (see youtube), quite rightly points out that religion and atheism (but christianity in particular) does not make the command, ‘trust me’, but says, ‘I trust you’. You might think that this definition of what Christians call ‘faith’, supports the noble side of religion or the atheistic confidence in humans to discover, but you would be wrong. It simply identifies our human capacity to dissociate ourselves from reality.

When atheists attempt to explain how God cannot exist, or when religious types explain how God must, they are both believing something. They both have faith that their version of reality reflects life accurately and what is more, they are willing to argue about the ‘non-world’. This is why the answer to the question must not be: religious (Yes), atheist (No) or agnostic (yes/no). In fact we must cut the whole question to pieces. There is no satisfactory answer because the question is based on a misnomer, it is based on mental fatigue – we are so tired of thinking and questioning that we resort to believing.

Strong and blind belief is a virtue. Oh then I will strongly believe that you don't know much of anything.

Belief doesn’t stop here. Belief exists in everything we do. It is the concept that blinkers our ability to perceive alternative horizons. Of course, to a large and overwhelming extent, we cannot escape ideology and we will inevitably have a perspective on things. But the point is to reflect on this fact and reconsider the angle of the blinkers, the tightness of the fit, the accuracy of our vision. We ought not succumb to belief; we ought to strive to uncover our less obvious ideas. The real ‘biggest question’ is: what are the things that you don’t know, you know?