Re: MD On Faith

From: Steve Peterson (
Date: Thu Oct 28 2004 - 14:01:38 BST

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    Hi Platt,

    You said:
    > All:
    > Pirsig describes faith as "a willingness to believe in falsehoods."
    > He also says that it's "possible for more than one set of truths to
    > exist."
    > So how does he distinguish a truth from a falsehood?

    Individuals make this judgment on the basis of Quality. When someone
    believes something that they think has low intellectual quality it is

    > If, as he said, one should choose truth on the basis of its quality,
    > like
    > choosing paintings in a gallery, then truth becomes a matter of
    > personal
    > belief. And so, logically, do falsehoods.
    > Perhaps someone will explain this apparent contradiction. Why is faith
    > in
    > what's true any different than faith in what's false?.

    I think Pirsig's definition makes some sense. In discussing religion
    with a Biblical literalist and after I've pointed out contradictions
    and other logical impossibilities, the "believer" will often
    acknowledge the low intellectual value of interpreting the Bible as
    literally true. When backed against a wall a "believer" will say
    something like, "it SEEMS like a contradiction, but one just has to
    have faith." In other words, the "believer" is demonstrating "a
    willingness to believe in falsehoods" and sees faith as doing just

    > It's been my contention from the start of this thread that all
    > metaphysical premises are based on faith,
    > that faith in God is no
    > different in principle than faith in the premises of science such as
    > materialism and reductionism, or Pirsig's faith in "logical
    > consistency,
    > agreement with experience, and economy of explanation.".

    Religious faith is different than a mere statement of belief. It is
    not merely accepting an intellectual postulate. Faith means belief but
    also trust and loyalty.

    Someone with faith in God trusts that the world is unfolding exactly as
    it should be and it is good. Someone of a particular faith such as
    Catholicism is loyal to their religious institution.

    > If one's belief in a personal God is intellectually
    > appealing, I see no reason to claim such belief is false given Pirsig's
    > "paintings you like" standard of truth.

    I agree, but "believers" often think of "faith" as what it takes to
    believe that which is not intellectually appealing. That is what
    Pirsig is calling immoral.


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