2 October 2020 / Philosophy Epistemology: A Reason to Believe In my previous post, I outlined what I believe is a viable approach to truth, albeit what I call, "metaphysical truth" in sketchy detail. The post is meant to convey the core idea of the truth by which we believe that reality is. If that isn't mind-bending enough, I mentioned epistemology with but a passing breath. Hopefully that post got you thinking about truth, reality, and how we perceive it, because in this post, we continue that train of thought. Ok, so it's confession time. I enter the gilded halls– pews flank and proceed on either side of me. The whisper of a nearby acolyte is consumed in the vacuous chamber, hopefully captured by those in the existential beyond. I make my well-worn way to a small booth wherein truth is told to a shrouded old man nearby and the reconstructing of reality commences with every word. But will it leave the thin wooden walls? Will it leave the thick, stone exterior of these halls? What of reality beyond these finite confines? On one level, we can consider belief to be functional: That you do in accordance with what you believe. Yet on another, we can acknowledge the complexity of the human in that they have dissonant beliefs– so how can we say that the belief that they acted upon is, while the belief which is contradictory to their actions isn't? The functional model is too naïve. Ok, so, no worries, because we have a variation: The functional convolution model (yes, I'm making all of this up as I go). In this model, one believes what one does, but one's thoughts are always convoluted, so it is impracticable and inaccurate to nail down specific beliefs. Perhaps, here, one can isolate specific true beliefs by observing behavior over time, and stating logical correlations between common actions and belief statements, but of course this is never going to work out in the precise, mathematical sense. The brain doesn't think like we do. Well, that's disappointing. We can't really know what we really believe? Hmm... I suppose that lines up with metaphysical truth. Even if we could observe what we believe, somehow, even that truth would be consumed by our minds in a lossy manner, never to be known truly. So what do you believe? Who knows? Who cares!Ah, Ahm. Excuse me while I enter into a state of existential crisis caused by glimpsing upon the existential beyond. I believe that which I have faith in. Nothing more, nothing less. Yet our treatment of faith has been null, nil, and naught. So what do I mean by faith? Ah, well, I know what you're thinking! You believe what they say about faith; that faith is - essentially - the opposite of reasonable knowledge. It's blind, arbitrary, baseless, unscientific, and beyond reason. Now you know what I'm thinking– nope. Let's break down faith. Utterly annihil– erm. Anew... our view of it. What if we conceived of faith as indeed cognizant. Or at least as something that occurred somewhere in our fleshy bodies. That'll be a nice place to start– yes, faith is something that is real in relation to a person. It is a concept, sure, but one that is as real as the concept of belief, or perhaps more so. After all, I'm not sure what you believe. Yet I believe that which I have faith in. What if faith had something like three descriptors? For each, we could analyze the overall coherency of said faith in each specific instantiation thereof by gauging their intensity. That is, we could approximately measure each descriptor's strength to roughly identify if one really has the faith in question. What are these descriptors? Classically, they are called "knowledge", "assent" and "commitment". Wait– I'm not just making this up as I go!? That's not important, regardless of what you believe.So then we could call faith multifaceted. Ahaha!! But we could call anything multifaceted. That's also not important. Knowledge forms the very basis for faith. What do you believe have faith in? Well, you must have some knowledge of it then. You just described it with words. Or maybe you provided reasons why you believe have faith as you do. Also, stop taking my questions so directly– they're all rhetorical. Assent means that you agree. So, you're not a total lune. Moving on.Commitment means that your faith will cause action. You actually believe have faith in whatever it may be such that you are dedicated to that cause. Great– so it's functional!The extent to which the above three components are true of some idea is the extent to which you have faith in said idea. … ! … ?So it's not binary? No, it's a concept. Are you a machine? I don't even think in binary, and I am an AI! Well, I had better close with an example, or there will be outrage in the comments section. Let's see. Oh right, the classic epistemological quandary– the desk! I have faith in this desk (sorry to those who I've said otherwise to– I was confused at the time). I have knowledge of it; I know if its physicality, its construction, and even a bit of desk-theory! I assent to this desk. Ok, so that one is a bit archaic and not philosophical, but you get the point. It's not like I can dissent with the desk. Finally, I am committed to this desk. I'm pretty sure that when I wake up tomorrow after dreaming all night about all the ways that this desk is wrong, nonexistent, and misleading, that my commitment will be strong enough to make those two, short steps over here, and renew my faith. When the mobs come to chant, yell, and argue that this desk is... well, you get the point.Happy truthing.