Paradigms: Belief and Attitude, Growth and Destruction

May 15, 2012

I begin with looking at paradigms in general because most of my writing is about an outlook on reality. Call it philosophy, as sterile and academically prude term as that’s come to be some places.

A paradigm, by which I mean one’s worldview or perspective on life, can be seen comprised as both attitude and belief. Belief is what one thinks is true about the world; attitude is the response toward that belief. For many people, attitude and belief are one. They believe what they want—their attitude is positive toward their belief by default, because their belief followed from their desire. But they are separate things. For attitude to follow from belief is the process of realizing a supposed truth and reacting to it. But for belief to follow from attitude(to adhere to something without challenging it only because you tend to see things that way) is to trim reality to one’s preference.

Belief following from attitude is nearly impossible to avoid on some level. I think there is a bias to perceive something one sees to be beautiful as true. That is, something false being beautiful seems contradictory: therefore, if one sees an idea as beautiful, they most likely see it as true to some degree. When a person acknowledges something as being true despite their desire to believe otherwise, that is a mark of true clarity—separating fact from desire. If truth is beautiful in and of itself, one who explores what she has accepted to be true may come to embrace as she understands it more fully with time.

I say ‘embracing’ in hopes of adapting to whatever belief I come to. At this time things I’ve thought about the autonomy of the individual are under threat. If I decide I was wrong, I’ll have to adapt to that.

The difficulty for me in trying to gain wisdom lifelong is maintaining an open mindset whilst having set opinions. If one is unable to look at something objectively afresh, without judging it relative to his existent paradigm, he will always see things biased and never again as fully and completely as would allow him to judge well the opinion on its own merit. Conversely, a paradigm must be established to make any use of what little knowledge you have. The fine line is to have carefully established opinions whilst letting them be malleable if something else seems to disprove its validity.

This process of constantly building a paradigm and tearing it down every time you encounter a new idea, destroying and rebuilding it, can be seen represented in neuroscience. Recent discoveries in neuroscience suggest that the left brain hemisphere is mostly responsible for building a belief system and rejecting what doesn’t fit into it, while the right hemisphere looks for discrepancies and questions the mental framework . “Building” and “looking for” are personification; I don’t believe we are just the result of chemical processes. But much of our mental capacities can be measured by neural activity. If this research about each brain hemisphere is true, it gives a concrete example of how a good mind builds and destroys its own mental framework.


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