Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Belief

This Coetzee quotation (its from Elizabeth Costello) puts belief posterior to idea: 'Belief may be no more, in the end, than a source of energy, like a battery which one clips into an idea to make it run. As happens when one writes: believing whatever has to be believed in order to get the job done.'

It's striking, but I'm not sure it's quite right ... the implied separation of belief and idea, I mean: the implicit assertion that belief is something deeper than an idea, something in the bone, where ideas are how our minds articulate and manoeuvre their activity. I suppose I don't see how belief is, except as ideas. Belief is always a structure of thought, always a constellation of ideas, not a reservoir or energy. But maybe that's not right.

2 comments:

Richard Colinson said...

Beliefs are animating. Belief is a psychological and indeed biological phenomenon; religion is an art form played on human instruments.

Playing armchair evolutionary biologist and games theorist I'll hazard that when presented with an important but sketchy predicate about the world there is an advantage in settling the issue quickly.

Ideas do not necessarily have anything at stake.

Adam Roberts said...

Interesting ... but are you limiting 'belief' to 'religious belief'?