The Mighty Crash

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?

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  • http://www.chsadida16.blogspot.com Chelsie Harris

    Parallel Universe alert! I think we’ve been there! :P

    For me those foundational beliefs have cracked and fallen away so that they’re not much more than sand . Building a house on the sand isn’t advisable (what’s that? a parable? I suppose the language of our foundation is slower to fade), so why build it? If you can’t have a firm foundation and will constantly be battling inconsistencies, weak points, and shifts, why construct a belief system that naturally requires dependence?
    It is possible to know truths without systematizing them. Not to mention that truths we find, like Love, don’t require a system, but are actually more dependable. It makes a lot of sense to say that core truths aren’t necessarily built on, but lived in their purest form. Then, there’s no need for worry about Agrippa’s Trilemma…any argument reaches a dogmatic stopping point, free from its circluation, when you address it with Love, –its value fades and its conclusion is second to every-momentary awareness of what really matters…if we can’t get past our foundations (even the bits we may still have) to acknowledge that, then they truly do us no good.

  • Jeffrey

    chels, yeah i think it is possible to know truths without systematizing them, but i’ve noticed a danger within myself of doing so simply b/c that is what i’ve been programmed to do.

    i actually realized about 2 weeks ago that i had begun to become dogmatic and systematic about Love…yikes!

    in talking with ur dad and jim last week at starbucks, i think i came to the understanding that it is an issue of paradigm. you can take the same random “truths” and either use them as a foundation or a “scatter plot” (as your dad has started calling it). the issue is not the truths, but what the person does with them.

    remind me to tell you in person about my “scatter plot” idea next time i see you.

  • Chelsie Harris

    Dude. I know. And what a contradiction that is, eh? Love is free of fine print-that’s it appeal :) My mental scenario usually goes down like this: Hey, I think we’re all Love. What?? You can’t accept that? Aren’t you tired of the ifs/buts? Haven’t you had enough religious dogma to yack it back up? You like it?? How is that simple?!
    …but it’s true that systematizing is another habit we gotta unlearn. and be patient with in others.

    …they say public confession is good for the ego ;)

    looking forward to hearing “scatter plot” Jeffrey thought!

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