Sunday, March 01, 2009

Objectivism's Benefit to Me #3

Related to the issue of believing vs knowing is the issue of faith vs confidence. The confusion between these two is actually a corollary of believing vs knowing. If one decides something to be true without evidence, one is believing. If one decides something to be true because evidence supports it, one is knowing.

This understanding seems precisely clear to me and that's the way I like it. Nevertheless, I see mass confusion between faith vs confidence all the time. I've been told things like "I have faith in my religion just as you have faith in your philosophy" at which time I usually interject something on the order of "No, I have confidence, not faith, in my philosophy because it is derived from the facts of reality." That's when I usually state explicitly the precise meaning of faith and confidence and then urge the listener not to confuse the two concepts because they have different meanings.

In my last post I said that I have been purging beliefs from my world view. Of necessity then, the use of faith as a means of knowledge must also be purged.

What this means for me is that I stop using words like believe and faith. This hasn't been easy in the sense that old bad habits can be hard to break. I still find myself wanting to say things like "I believe the Detroit Tigers will do better this year because of the off season trades they made" or "I believe President Obama's stimulus package will fail because it is based on false economic principles". In both cases I should have used words like 'I estimate', 'I judge', 'I predict' or 'I know.' I just have to get into the habit of using these and other words instead of belief and faith.

Objectivism benefit #3 then is that with beliefs and faith gone, I'm left with a knowable universe and the confidence that my mind is capable of knowing any part of it I desire to know. And that will be the focus of the next post in this series: what I have learned about knowledge from Objectivism. Still, knowing where I'm starting from, my relationship to existence; that an other-world deity isn't going to turn my computer into a frog or a demon any moment now, does provide a mental comfort zone.

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