Articulating A Belief That is Wrong, Badly5 min read

I try to read a lot of writing that disagrees with my beliefs. It is also important to read something written that you agree with. I find it relaxing to read something that doesn’t challenge my beliefs. Clearly, it is better for my future self to challenge my beliefs.

It is important for people to try to completely articulate their viewpoints. This helps them and potentially those around them. You should articulate your beliefs as simply as possible and disassemble everything you believe. You should do this at every level. I don’t think you should force people to listen to you. I do think writing for yourself is a good exercise.

Belief

The question for me is always if you are doing something useful. I was listening to Jordan Peterson speaking with Russel Brand. There were a bunch of things that they said that was interesting. One of them was the idea of action being useful and generous. People on the left focus on the generous. People on the right focus on the useful. The correct answer seems to be something in between.

I think questioning any belief you have is needed. You need to understand what you are optimizing. Any point of view you come to and have not thought through entirely is either someone else’s that you copied or something that you concluded because you are prioritizing one thing over another. Thinking through it will result in you imagining alternatives or being presented with alternatives.

People feel good when they are sure of things. It lets them act decisively and with conviction. For me, I want to have a sureness of footing. I want to know that what I am doing is right in many senses.

More and more I am finding myself dissecting my beliefs. I still hold them for the most part. I think that is because I had a good founding of logic, emotions, and principles beneath them. What dissecting them allows me to do is understand people who have different beliefs. I understand what parts of my conclusions are logic, emotions, or principles.

Logic

Logic can be a hard thing to understand. There are many meanings of logic and many types.

For understanding yourself, you only need to use the logic that you know. When writing, it doesn’t matter if you are using logic that someone else can point out isn’t right. You will be a better person for having that pointed out and not doing it any more.

The challenge will be taking a new look at the conclusions that were based on the faulty logic. This also requires assuming someone knows something you don’t until proved otherwise.

Both of those can be quite painful.

Emotions

If your beliefs are founded in emotion, you need to understand that. No matter how logical you are, emotions will play a part in your belief.

It is essential to know that your logic isn’t the reason you care about a topic. Your emotional reaction is what drives you, often times.

Some beliefs you will have an emotional attachment to. In that case, you need to ask yourself if the belief is worth holding onto. If you value being consistent over being truthful, that is a path I can’t walk with you.

If your emotions rule your belief, you will not be on solid footing when challenged. Your emotions can change based on circumstance.

Principles

Belief founded in principles are the beliefs that won’t change. Oftentimes these beliefs will be much more basic than the topics of the news.

You can logically or emotionally reach other beliefs from your principles, but understanding that a principle drives your view on the world is the first step.

Principles in this case are going to be things like compassion, fairness, and freedom. You will generally value some principle over another. When someone disagrees with you, oftentimes they have different principles.

As an example, if you abhor coercion and being forced to do something, you might oppose taxes in general. If your principles put fairness ahead of a concern with coercion, taxes that are equal would be what you desire. If you value compassion, it is very likely when you think of taxes they are a tool for helping those who are disadvantaged.

All Together Now

Belief is the middle layer between views and principles. Understanding every layer along the way is essential to sorting out who you are. You can’t assume someone with different beliefs is a bad person. It is likely they just have different principles.

Don’t be an asshole and assume you are a good person and they are bad. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn says that the line separating good and evil cuts through the heart of every man. Even if someone is evil, they are also capable of being good. Even if you are good, you are capable of being evil.

Further, who says you are right that they are being evil!

I’ll stop channeling Jordan Peterson for a bit and go back to my regularly scheduled activity.

Writing Badly

It is important to me to write badly. I don’t want to sit and think my views through fully. The views I am espousing are things that have taken me years to get to.

The next steps all need to be taken by making those views clear. Another step will be someone actually challenging those views.

My views represent a belief. I can generally trace most of my beliefs back through logic or emotion to the principle that is underneath them.

I don’t care if someone disagrees with my view. There is no value at all in my beliefs. My principles are things that I have discovered in myself rather than things I created. I am not sure they are entirely a priori, but I believe they might be.

There is no proofreading done with the things I write. I publish them and read them a few days or a week later. I read through everything I wrote the year before after a long break. The plan is to do the same again.

I am fine with being wrong. I am fine with writing badly.

There is no way I am going to let myself stand still. That is what is important.

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