Beliefs versus Facts

Posted by Mike Kaaks

13 January 2014

I'm reading Thomas Metzinger's The Ego Tunnel. I should say struggling with rather than reading as the early going is hard. This is for at least three reason: the way he approaches an already difficult topic; because it is a translation from his mother tongue and nuance can be lost this way; and because of the attitude he displays in his writing. Take this line for example; "in the popular work of nonacademic philosophers…" - a model example of condescension. As if we need to note a difference between academic and the rest of us. And this in a book of which the cover notes say "Metzinger's intended audience is the lay reader…………" I'll be reading on in the hope that in spite of his attitude he has something insightful to say - with the rigour of academia no less!

What this is leading to is a conversation I had with a friend about belief vs fact. Metzinger obviously believes academic rigour is the high bar in these matters.In my mind, beliefs are things you don't have to defend with references and proof because you simply take them to be so. That is where beliefs have power and value for you. They don't require examination and bibliography. You can't just make up facts to suit your case, but you can certainly stand your ground on the basis of your beliefs.

One definition of belief is "an acceptance that a statement is true" I accept it. I don't feel a need to check it out, or to argue about it. Other words associated with the definition are trust, faith, confidence, conviction, position, conclusion, creed. All are strong and positive. All are words of being

Now let's look at fact. It is defined as a thing that is indisputably the case. Mmmm, "the case" and further into the definition "used as evidence". Words associated with fact are specific, reality, certitude, actuality. Words of measurement. Words of Doing.

When you are building the narrative of your work, the path you would like to take towards your emerging future, tap into your beliefs. It will make for a really transformative outcome.

I suspect that this non-academic reader will oppose some of the facts Mr Metzinger shares though his book and it will be my beliefs that I turn to in taking a position.