What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and realized that everything you’d believed and constructed your entire life on wasn’t entirely true?
Would it change the way you lived? Would your entire world come crashing down around you? Would you feel betrayed by those who led you into those beliefs in the first place?
For many of us in the western world, the answers to those questions would be “yes”…but is that evidence of an erroneous paradigm all together?
Most of us today have been brought up in a foundationalist paradigm. Foundationalism is just like what it sounds. It is any epistemology (theory of knowledge) that has a foundation of basic beliefs on which all other beliefs are completely dependent.
The potential problem therein is the possibility of a faulty foundation. If we realize that one (or more) of our foundational beliefs is faulty, the structure on top has no choice but to fall.
Doesn’t leave much room for growth, does it? Perhaps you’ve sub-, semi-, or fully-conciously felt like you’re captive to your own beliefs…this could be the reason.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Man’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimension.” But alas, when our feet are firmly set in the stone of our hardened belief system, such a stretch is not only impossible, but wholly inconceivable.
It is true, a foundational argument will generally always lead to Agrippa’s Trilemma, ending in either “an infinite regress, dogmatic stopping point, or a circular argument”.
What then might a solution be? Is there still a way to hold a few core beliefs without the rest of them being dependent on them? What would the benefits and drawbacks of such a paradigm include?