Let's consider defining a "belief system" as an emotionally charged cognitive model that tends to self sustain. To the extent that the model is not emotionally charged, it tends not to have the BS-hypnotic tunnel vision problem.
I want to re-puzzle: Let's consider defining a "belief system" as a cognitive model that tends to self sustain due to emotional charge.
Your second sentence had a mind-numbing effect. New meditation material.
(edit: btw; don`t stop yourself from posting. Please.)
thanks for posting. I struggle with similar ..indistinctness (-es?:).
OK, thanks, k, the more times I run through this, the clearer it actually becomes for me.
There're 3 basic steps to getting a cognitive handle on Belief Systems.
1) Understanding that they have some sort of cognitive base.
2) That they have an certain emotional charge that especially energizes them
3) Seeing how they tend to select for information that confirms them and de-selects information that contradicts them.
1) You could say that your mind is really made of 'maps'... pictures about the world out there... they aren't the world itself, but they are maps that help organize it and make sense of it. For example, we all know what a 'car' is, and we all have varyingly accurate maps of them 'in our heads'. We generally know a car when we see one at a glance. If we could pluck a person from 1850 out of his time and have him land in our front yard, and down the road comes a car, he would jump and say "WHAT the heck is THAT???" The closest thing he would have in his map set would be a wagon or carriage, but it couldn't be one of those, because a wagon has to have an animal pulling it, and wagons never ever
go that fast. For him something nearly unreal is occurring. He has no map for this very strange thing he is witnessing.
2) If our fellow from 1850 happened to be a carriage maker by trade, or a carriage driver, and his identity and sense of self and self worth were very much tied to his occupation, he would have an intense emotional charge attached to his whole map of the carriage trade, and he would be powerfully aroused and greatly alarmed, and he would say to me: "I beg your pardon sir. But I know
carriages. I build
them! And that, whatever it was, was not
a carriage, I assure you!"
3) And he probably will not have seen the person driving it, though to our eyes the driver would be plain, and his belie systems in place as they are will probably rectify his sensations as something from the devil, between the smell and and strangeness, and he will presently realize that it is an act of sorcery, and we must be in league with the devil and so on. He may even refuse to try to listen to any explanation as a result, instead his belief system of earth walking devils will be enormously strengthened.
So, to move to a more day to day belief system occurrence now, Christianity, probably everyone understands the basic maps about it (2000 years ago, guy gets born, virgin mom, 3 wise men, son of god, yada yada yada...), and people that subscribe to that map set as real generally have a strong emotional charge attached to it. (These emotional charges have two basic sources, as far as I can see at this time. One is the fear of death, that is, that the self could be disintegrated or cease to exist. The other is fear of being ostracized by one's group..... family, society, etc). If you don't subscribe to it, it is really easy to find holes in it without even meaning to: no emotional investment, no blinders.
So... ole Montana happens to be having dinner with a number of people and most are Christians, and, Montana, (who needs
a belief system about circumspect conversation around deep BS people), pipes up as the wine is being poured, "Say! When Jesus turned the water into wine, I wonder what kind
of wine he turned it into...?" The not too serious christians will raise their eyebrows, the more serious ones will lower
theirs, sensing someone unsavory in their presence. Ole Montana, noticing the sudden silence, will try to fill it, "I mean, I like to think, oh, maybe it was a rich lusty port! Imagine what it must have tasted like!" More silence. "Well, come to think of it, it was probably a mild spring evening, at that, and they were
always eating fish... a chardonnay!" More silence. "Funny, with a talent like that, you'd think he would have been on the 'A' list of every salon in the Roman Empire.... Gosh! you don't suppose he turned it in to that horrible stuff they serve at Passover, do you??" And about here the lady of the house would say to her husband, "Dear...? May I have a word with you?" The belief system that they subscribe to, or inhabit, would almost certainly forbid those kinds of questions, and automatically process the kind of thinking that would attach to the spoken words as 'sinful'. Their attachment to that map set or model set, and the strong emotional charge with which they light it would presently actually color their perceptual process, and while they probably
would not see horns or tails sprout out of me, they would attach their sense of evil to my image, which in their eyes is now suddenly transformed, and looks unmistakably evil, somehow until now un-noticed, even though I might have been as a Mother Teresa only minutes ago.
Their Belief System will have labeled me as an element that is know within it (a form of evil) and will have confirmed and strengthened itself in the process with its self-validating recognition of one of its elements.
... I hope that helps clear things up.
I need to make a couple of points:
1) That is my
current understanding, and not (currently) the official MBT view.
2) I am coming to suppose that 'minds', or 'the mapping function' of the psyche, or consciousness, is actually incubated through a progression of learning to assemble and implement, and finally to outgrow, 'belief systems'. (Just take a few minutes and imagine the brute of he dark ages, singly seeking refuge in the church. At first all they know is fight, eat. You hit 'm on the head with a 4x4, just to get their attention, and at first teach them the very basic things. Sit still. Wait your turn. Be quiet. You will be fed. It takes a long time for them to be educated enough to assemble the belief system which will presently house a civility that will provide a framework to receive further education. It will be a long long road before that belief system will feel like a constraint, and for a long time it will provide structure, meaning, solace, and should it be lost before its time, the person will revert to a Barbarian, almost certainly.) As such, they are not evil in themselves, and are absolutely necessary for a certain stage of growth of consciousness, almost like a placenta. Then, and very importantly, a number of people are still in that stage where their belief systems are essential to their growth, and trying to wrest them from them, or get them to move beyond them, is not good, and even an act of violence. But like a placenta, or a womb, or an egg, the time eventually comes when the thing is too tight, or is left aside by growth and circumstance. If it is still clung to, it will become toxic.
So, this is different, I think, than what Tom would say. But specially defining belief systems as emotionally charged, self-sustaining models, he may not disagree after all.