Sunday, October 25, 2009

Unamuno believes that no person’s set of beliefs is totally based on rationality. We believe things then we situate them within the logical framework of our beliefs afterwards. I think that some examples of things we believe can help illustrate this.

In general, people believe what their senses tell them. If my senses tell me that I am listening to Dr. Johnson in class, I believe it without question. Even when I am dreaming, I believe what my “senses” are telling me: if I am being chased by something in my dream, I believe it and try to run away. Only afterwards when I wake up do I stop believing.

Reason tells me that it is certainly possible that I am just a “brain in a vat” or in “the matrix” but I honestly do not believe either option at all. One could say that this is because the probability of such advanced scientific progress or computers taking over the world is very small. But, this makes no sense because if I am a “brain in a vat” the actual world is not accessible to me because my senses are faulty. Therefore, I believe my senses before reasoning out and possibly despite reasoning out the reliability of the senses.

Another example has to do with our close relationships. Although it is possible for a mother to perform an elaborate charade to pretend to love her child, I believe that my mother actually does love me. I can never explore my family members’ minds for their actual feelings about me. However, despite this, I never seriously doubt that everyone in my family loves each other. (My family could get angry at each other or be annoyed by each other, but they would never stop loving each other). One could object by saying it is enormously improbable that someone would pretend to love someone for so long. However, it is not that uncommon to have families turn on each other in awful ways that are incompatible with a loving relationship.

I am not really sure what to make of these things Unamuno says I immediately take to be true. I think that one could argue for why they are true, but Unamuno states that I really do not take arguments into consideration when I believe these things. I am concerned about arguments precisely because I already know these things to be true. This seems to suggest that I create truth or maybe create “my own truth.” However, when I believe that my family loves each other, I believe that it actually happens in a real external world. I think that this contradiction creates an uncomfortable tension in Unamuno’s argument that is unacceptable if we really believe something to be externally true.

1 comment:

  1. I see what you're saying, but I think you're confusing the main points that Unamuno attempts to convey. By no means is Unamuno trying to undermine one's innate beliefs or cause reason to doubt what one instinctively knows. On the contrary, from my reading, Unamuno pushes for a stronger reliance on these inner convictions than on what religion or the government mandates. As a result, the example of your family doesn't quite fit the mold of what Unamuno discusses. When he refers to the external world, he means institutions such as religion or the government or the Kierkegaardian ethical realm where a name and a face cannot be ascribed to these beliefs. Those are what he attacks and not smaller, intimate units such as the family.


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