Monday, September 8, 2008

Belief is Moral

The decision to believe someone or something is always, in the end, a moral decision. That is to say, it is not "belief" until you find you must make a decision, a decision that has consequences, based upon what you do or do not believe.

1 comment:

Josh said...

Interesting. Kierkegaard says essentially the same thing when he argues for the three "phases" of existence: the aesthetic, where one sees the world as a playground of possibilities without ever committing to any particular possibility (think of a playboy); the ethical, where one strongly commits oneself to only one possibility (e.g. marriage); and the religious, which is similar to the ethical but supplants it because it transcends all moral and rational categories.

For Kierekgaard, however, there is a sense in which even the ethical is, if not irrational, at least "post-rational," if you will. The ethical is not grounded in the postulates of reason, but in the subjective will (as I'm writing this, I'm realizing how much this scarily sounds like Nietzsche). The burden of decision denotes the primacy of subjectivity since I can always decide "against" reason. Hence my bare decision making power is more definitive of the self than moral obligations that come from the "outside."

It's tricky when we explore what the true nature of "decision" or “belief” actually is in connection with "reason," which, presumably, moral obligation wants to ally itself.