Identify a specific belief worth defending, and then explain the philosophical reasons for holding that belief.
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Philosophy is the pursuit of understanding, of knowledge, the search for a general understanding of how the world operates. A belief is a fact or piece of data completely held with or without “reason”. For example, one may “believe” that physics obeys all of its laws all the time. The “reason” for “believing” that is because it gives meaning and order to a universe that, without that belief, would be chaotic and untenable—without believing in “physics” we could not philosophize about our reasons for existing. Usually, beliefs are considered beyond logic or proof—they are simply “held”; one may “philosophize” that a belief in a life hereafter helps us act responsibly in this life, or one may “believe” that mankind is the highest evolution of Life on Earth; the philosophical reason for holding that belief is that we give most importance to logical thinking over, for example, instinct or emotion. One may "believe" in angels, in order to philosophically posit apparent miracles on Earth.
A specific belief that is worth defending is the idea that people should be allowed to express any ideas that they believe in. In other words, this is the belief that freedom of speech should be broadly protected.
There can be many philosophical ways to defend this belief. For example, utilitarian philosophers might say that allowing free speech is the best way to get the greatest good for the greatest number of people. They might say that the people of a country are more likely to be happy if they are able to express their beliefs. If a country suppresses some speech, everyone is likely to lose "happinesss" because they might fear that their speech will be the next to be suppressed.
A specific belief worth holding is the idea of individual responsibility. It is vitally important in a person's mental development to understand that they are responsible for their actions, regardless of circumstance or societal influence. A person's actions are the method they use to communicate and interact with the world, and to not take responsibility -- to essentially blame all one's actions on determinism, religion, or any other influence other than personal decision -- is to effectively state that there cannot be ethical morality. Individual responsibility is in itself a philosophy, drawing on ideas of rational thinking, individual achievement and self-respect, and free will versus determinism. This last is most important, because if individual responsibility is rejected, so too is the possiblity of truly free will. Coercion on the individual simply alters the thought processes used to make an individual decision.
Many writers and thinkers of the past century have followed the tenets of a philosophy called "existentialism." Now, I am not an expert in any philosophical area, including existentialism, but I am interesting in one aspect of this school of thought.
Existentialists often hold and espouse the belief that the universe is a nonsensical place that holds no meaning in and of itself. Any meaning that an individual finds in life must be created and developed by that individual. This belief certainly appears to be justified when we look at the seemingly pointless things that happen all over the world everyday. Take the Newtown shootings for example. How can a rational, meaningful universe allow for the random slaughter of elementary school students?
I don't necessarily agree with this line of thought. I think there are reasons why such awful things happen, so I suppose I'm not really much of existentialist myself. But I do find it to be an interesting philosophy in that it gets us to think more deeply about how the universe can be meaningful, even when it appears to be otherwise.
Along the lines of the 4th post, I'd defend the notion that morality derives from community. This is true in communities where there is a shared religion as well as in communities of diversity and/or no religion at all.
We see this as being the case when different societies adhering to the same religion develop different dogmas and rules of behavior, despite possessing what might be seen as a shared belief system.
This is an important idea because it means that people are both capable of and responsible for shaping the rules and codes of conduct within a community. The ramifications here are practical, legal, and political. This point puts me in mind of the famous Gandhi quote: Be the change you want to see in the world.
It's up to us, as communities, to decide what is right, wrong, acceptable and unacceptable. Whether we refer to holy books or not, the responsibility for any and all moral codes rests on the people of the community (as interpreters of religious doctrine or as free thinking individuals; it's all the same).
A specific belief worth defending is the belief that a nation has a right to uphold and defend their well-established laws and customs and not cow-tow to those who immigrate to the country and seek to change these customs because it doesn't fit with their beliefs. Too much of this is going on in Canada and the United States and it is eroding the principles on which our two great nations were founded. Those who come to our countries have much to offer and this is why we welcome them and allow them entry into our countries - to become productive contributing members and citizens eventually. However, we must not let them dictate the way we run our societies. The country that allows people in calls the shots - not the people being allowed in.
Western philosophers have long sought to provide philosophical justification for belief in God. Thomas Aquinas argued that all matter needed a "prime mover" that would initially set everything in motion. Descartes argued (and this is a massive simplification of what he was saying) that the existence of good in the world was indicative of the existence of God. Pascal offered a famous wager to those who did not believe in God, suggesting that it was better to wager on God's existence. Belief as a subject of philosophical inquiry fell out of favor with the Enlightenment, but many thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century turned their attention to it again as reason fell victim to the same skepticism that was applied to religion in the eighteenth century. Whether religious belief is worth defending or not, of course, is a matter largely up to the individual and to society.
A belief in the spiritual realm is a belief considered worthy of defense by many. In the beginnings of the history of philosophy, belief in the spiritual might reasonably be called an assumption, for example, Aristotle's philosophical system included a belief in the spiritual realm and a definition of an Unmoved Mover God. It was later philosophical thought that eliminated the consideration of belief from philosophical examination. Similarly, scientific inquiry was originally part of philosophical inquiry until science came to be considered a separate and distinct disciplines. These two schisms, you might call it, in philosophy resulted from paradigmatic shifts in belief, specific to this discussion, belief about the spiritual realm. A new shift is occurring now in our life times in which science is now defending, indeed proving, a renewed belief in the spiritual. Amit Goswami, Ph.D., quantum physicist known as the Quantum Activist, defines the spiritual realm in terms of the "cosmic consciousness." With quantum physics defining, proving, and defending the spiritual realm--thus reuniting science, philosophy, and inquiry into belief--belief in the spiritual realm is again a worthy belief defended philosophically as well as scientifically.
I personally think that people are better off if they believe that human life is sacred. By sacred, I mean that people should not willingly take another’s life. The value of human life is not accepted by all people. However, I think that as humans we should not willingly kill one another. It is difficult to make the argument that all life is sacred, but I find it difficult even to kill an ant—and I hate ants.
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