To Believe or Not To Believe 

My favourite Wiki dictionary defines “belief” as an idea one accepts as likely being true or real with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty. In conversation with friends, we probably find ourselves espousing our beliefs on feminism or entitlement or even religion. What many of us forget is an opinion, an attitude, even a belief, is not the same as a truth. As far back as the 3rd century AD, the Stoics claimed:  “in aiming for knowledge, we should aim to have no beliefs.” Although knowledge, belief and cognition are linked . . .

Knowledge is cognition that is secure and firm and unchangeable by reason. Belief is weak and false assent. Cognition in between these is assent belonging to a cognitive impression; and a cognitive impression, so they claim, is one which is true and of such a kind that it could not turn out false.      Sextus Empiricus, M 7.151-2; LS 41C, part.

The Stoics further asserted that

… the wise [wo]man supposes nothing weakly, but rather, securely and firmly; and so [s]he does not hold beliefs either. For beliefs are of two kinds, assent to the non-cognitive, and weak supposition, and these are alien to the wise [wo]man’s disposition.      Stobaeus 2.111,18-112,8; LS 41G; SVF 3.548, part.

In my own life-long search for knowledge and truth and to stir my cognitive processing on this topic, I wrote the following poem. It is one of the many reflections in my soon-to-be-published third volume of poetry titled Mad Woman Laughing.

 

Self-sealing

I contemplate best during the red-hot days of summer
with queries like “Who am I when I don’t limit myself?”

Those cold-beer-on-the-deck days slow me down to a
leisurely pace where chaos itself sweats to a standstill.

In my reflective space, shared with shadowy ancestral ghosts,
similar inquiries arise dredging up long-forgotten truths.

Here’s one — “There are no true beliefs.”
Now what does that really mean?

And how have I sealed myself up
so I no longer know the answer?

What beliefs have you been holding on to that just maybe you can now release?

For more on crushing false beliefs and opening yourself to the truth, click here.

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