Sunday 16 June 2024

"You've gotta believe-in" doesn't work anymore: now, you need to Know (-directly)

When so many people expend so much energy propagating that you've got to believe-in... something; then you eventually realize that nobody really believes in anything. 

For a long time, people could be induced to believe in things by social structuring; then for a while-more belief was created and sustained by inducing people to participate in rituals, study, self-disciplines; and then that phase passed. 

For a short period more; it was widely asserted that this inability to believe meant that anyone could believe anything - simply by choosing. 

Someone could - by wanting - learn to "believe-in yourself", or believe-in any kind of religion, spirituality, or political ideology...

Someone could (it was said) induce belief by replacing external social structures with a personally-chosen framework....

The implicit theory was something-like this: 

First; you chose what to believe...

Then you build your own belief-sustaining system...

Finally you stepped inside and... 

Believed - from then-onwards.  

Yet that interchangeability of belief also implied that if you could believe any-thing, then you ought to be believe... whatever was currently-approved/imposed by the rulers

Because if not, if there was no consensus of belief; then "chaos would ensue"; than which anything is better (so most people felt). 

Meanwhile - nobody really believed anything: because belief was (for pretty obvious reasons!) self-subverted by its own arbitrary-ness. 

If we can "believe anything" then, actually, we cannot believe anything.

And that is where things now stand. 

Believe-in doesn't work. 

Now, what we need is to-know

And that means we need to know without having first to believe-in. 

And that means we need to know directly, by a single inner act of knowing that does not depend on any intermediaries that must be believed-in...

That is we need to know without believing that words/ concepts/ symbols capture -real-reality, we need to know without having first to believe-in some particular person or institution (or church).  

Direct-knowing in this way can be called intuition - and it not only can but must become the ultimate basis for life, because it is the only potentially solid basis: the only basis that is not merely a floating island adrift in the sea of culture. 

Direct-knowing is when the island of our expressed belief is merely the tip of a root that extends to the bedrock of reality. 

And on that rock...


Ron Tomlinson said...

Seems to me this is mirrored on the other side.

Once upon a time Solzhenitsyn pointed out that they required an ideology to evade their consciences. Now there is a pervasive *spirit* of resentment and hatred for goodness, which is surely the more powerful because it can't be seen or criticised, only felt. No ideology or promise of utopia required.

Stephen Macdonald said...

I see a gradual alignment of thinking among a tiny group of people who are able to engage in deep, original thought. Dr. Charlton's "direct knowing" immediately resonates with a discussion I heard last week between Rupert Sheldrake and David Bentley Hart (whether you agree generally with either or both of these men is beside my point). Their discussion focused on the irreducibility of fields within physics (gravity, magnetic, etc). These phenomena cannot be explained in natural terms other than self-referentially. They just are, and they interact with the world directly. They are top-down and direct.

Dr. Charlton's observations also align with my own experience. The notion that I "believe in" God as manifested through Jesus Christ feels empty to me. I very much experience Christ in a manner similar to the way in which I experience gravity: direct, unmediated and necessary.

Francis Berger said...

Good post. I'm convinced that the "true believer" era has reached its end. It matters little whether the true believer holds fast to the tenets of particular religious doctrines, political affiliations, mass media, or any other belief system, simply believing in something vehemently has become insufficient.

If the 20th century was about anything, it was about exposing the inherent inadequacies and harm of true believing. Such forms of belief appeared to be spontaneous and natural in earlier eras, but the last century exposed that true believing could no longer serve. Moreover, those who persisted in the mode of true believing basically set themselves up for all sorts of manipulation, trouble, and errors, including true believer syndrome --the steadfast, irrational insistence on the reality of something that is no longer defensible or tenable.

Contemporary man seems capable of believing in anything put before him, all without really believing in anything at all, which is a very curious and unsustainable state to be in. Direct-knowing is the way forward. How people discover that and get there is the next great challenge.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ron - "No ideology or promise of utopia required."

It is strange how few people have noticed this change. I suppose I did, because I began as an idealist utopian of the Left, and took it seriously enough to realize it was utterly false.

@Stephen - "I see a gradual alignment of thinking..."

I hope so, although probably the alignment is indeed in a "tiny" number, and maybe not a real "group"! To my eye, even people who I generally approve-of, like Rupert S, don't seem to recognize just how Bad things are (or else the ideal of Bad-ness is not spiritual).

@Frank - "Contemporary man seems capable of believing in anything put before him, all without really believing in anything at all, which is a very curious and unsustainable state to be in. "

Puts the situation very well!

Pk said...

The notion that you just need to believe and have faith in "something" is absurd and trivializes the notion of RELIGION - all different ways of viewing reality and you just have to pick one. The old English origin of the word "believe" meant to "rely on." That small difference can change the whole outlook. You can only rely on Truth, but you can believe anything.