How I should fight my own dogmas

 
Abel Dean
 
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Abel Dean
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30 January 2019 19:05
 

If I have a dogma, then I must either restrict it or abandon it. If I know that I have a dogma, then it is easier to make the decision to downgrade the dogma: make it a mere belief, not a dogma. A potential problem is that many people have dogmas, but they don’t know it, and I may be one of them. Not every belief is a dogma. Not even every wrong belief is a dogma. Dogmas exist in more than just Catholicism and in more than religion generally. A dogma is any belief, right or wrong, that is immune to reversal or moderation from sound argumentation. Anyone is vulnerable to dogmas, regardless of their own intelligence or knowledge, and everyone needs to test their own potential dogmas. Some dogmas can be merely moral, without affecting my belief about objective reality. The a priori moral dogmas are not always a problem, and perhaps they are necessary as a general moral foundation. But, many dogmas have governed not only my morals but also my beliefs about objective reality. These dogmas need to be identified and either restricted to the moral domain or abandoned. Wrong beliefs about objective reality will not help my moral values, but the dogmas will keep me from having a clear picture of how to best achieve my moral goals.

Central to all of the following tests is one simple tool: pay attention to the best critics. The worst critics are easy to find, as the worst critics are amplified and used as target practice by my ideological echo chambers. I may need to actively seek out the best critics. The best critics convince the most intelligent and rational members of the opposing party, and their arguments or evidence will make me feel uncomfortable, especially if they are more reasonable than what I believe.

I should ask myself these questions:

“What evidence do I have for my own belief?” I should write out both the background knowledge (whatever makes it plausible) and the direct evidence in favor of the belief in question. I should test these arguments by presenting them to the critics. Can they convincingly poke holes in my evidence? Can they provide more probable explanations for such evidence?

“What evidence do the best critics have in favor of their beliefs?” Ideological echo chambers routinely reinforce false myths about the opposing points of view, so maybe I have the wrong idea about the evidence preferred by the critics. Maybe I falsely believe they rely on dogmas, but they actually rely on seemingly rational arguments much like my own. I should ask the critics directly what convinces them of their beliefs. My own dogma may be better than the competing strawmen, but, if the critical point of view is accurately represented, then the critical perspective may be better than my own perspective. If my critics frequently correct what I believe about them, then I am wrong about them. They are the only reliable source of information about what they believe.

“What potential evidence could change my mind away from this belief?” Dogmatists typically have trouble even imagining what potential evidence would change their beliefs. So long as I can’t even imagine the critical perspective being reasonable, then I have no risk that I may accept the critical perspective. So, the mental conception of sufficient contrary evidence is a necessary step to correcting a dogma. If I have already made the decision to abandon any dogma as soon as I see enough evidence to the contrary, then a potential trouble becomes that perhaps only an overwhelming or impossible landslide of evidence may qualify. So, the next step is to allow the critics to review my chosen thresholds of the strength of evidence. Their response may be, “That sort of evidence would also conflict with what we believe,” or “that sort of evidence would be nearly impossible given what we believe.” If so, then I should ask them what evidence would change their minds. If it is reasonable, then perhaps I should adjust my thresholds or correct my own perception of the opposing point of view.

“What related ideology may be reinforcing my belief?” Dogmas typically do not arise in isolation (with exceptions, i.e. maybe it is a dogma of my own invention), but they are often a foundational part of ideologies shared by millions of people. Ideologies are evolving memeplexes. Throughout human history each of them have adapted by persuasion through every psychological means in addition to reason. This includes appealing to my personal wishes, my personal fears, defense of my family, defense of my race, tribalism, authoritarianism, anti-authoritarianism—every common instinctive source of bias. So, if I can identify my complex of moral values, then I can identify the dogmas at the core of that complex. I may not need to abandon the ideology entirely, but I would need to restrict the dogmas to the moral domain or abandon the dogmas tied to the ideology.

After I go through these tests, then I may find that I have a dogma, but the dogma is correct. If so, then I should downgrade it to a mere belief. I can not rightly know whether or not the dogma is correct until it is no longer a dogma. And, even after dogmas are corrected, it helps if I keep the conversations open with the best critics. They can help me correct or improve my beliefs of any sort, dogmas or not. If I find myself in a homogeneous social environment that excludes or deters the critics, then I need to actively seek out the critics.

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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30 January 2019 20:58
 
Abel Dean - 30 January 2019 07:05 PM

How I should fight my own dogmas

Run them over with your karma.

 
 
Speakpigeon
 
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02 February 2019 06:21
 
Abel Dean - 30 January 2019 07:05 PM

If I have a dogma, then I must either restrict it or abandon it. (...)
A dogma is any belief, right or wrong, that is immune to reversal or moderation from sound argumentation.

If you have a dogma, it will cease to be a dogma as soon as you look at it critically.

Dogma
2. A principle or statement of ideas, or a group of such principles or statements, especially when considered to be authoritative or accepted uncritically.

The problem is not the belief, it is the attitude of the believer.
It is probably impossible to critically question all your beliefs and it is unclear whether that would even be a good thing.
I guess a reasonable rule of thumb may be to try and be less dogmatic than the next guy.
And it’s easy here!
EB

 
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05 March 2019 11:21
 

The instant a dogma is challenged, another dogma tends to take its place.  This new dogma typically makes an allowance for the person to continue their current pattern of behavior.

If one dissociates from the dogma challenging process, their minds will attempt to erase the memory of what just happened by either revising it or simply conjuring up another memory .  This is why people strawman or instinctively engage in impulsive behavior when their dogmas are challenged (whether this challenge comes from others or through their own cognitive dissonance).  It’s like someone who smokes a lot, has a coughing attack, consequently feels negatively about their health, and relieves that negative feeling with more smoking.

This process continues until the person no longer wishes for another dogma to take its place.  This is arguably only theoretically possible to achieve.

Many dogmas in humans are placeholder beliefs which over time harden into something which is defended instinctively when called into question.

Placeholder beliefs can come about through early social conditioning, they can arise in opposition to various life crises and traumas, and they can arise simply because a belief has “worked for someone” thus far.

What is a belief that “worked for someone”?  Any belief which consistently helped the human being maintain emotional homeostasis (or what they perceive as homeostasis), gain sexual, financial, emotional resources, avoid death or injury.  It doesn’t matter whether or not the human being’s assessment is accurate in this context, as any belief which “worked for someone” is worth examining, especially when we see others in society navigating competently with different beliefs than our own.

[ Edited: 05 March 2019 11:49 by Quadrewple]
 
 
Speakpigeon
 
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06 March 2019 09:32
 

Each dogma is essentially historically contingent but the fact that dogmas are a fixture of all human societies is a direct consequence of natural selection. Whenever we use this notion of natural selection, we better give the time-frame involved to get some perspective. For example, the general logical capability of the human brain is the end-product of something like at least 525 million years of nature selecting neurobiolological systems over the entire surface of the Earth, over the whole thickness of the biosphere, in the seas, in the atmosphere, on the ground, and indeed below ground. No one is going to beat that with a computer any time soon. We may be tempted to think of dogmas as motivated essentially by social politics. This seems to be what people talk about when they discuss a dogma. Usually, there will be some implicit reference to the dogma of the Catholic Church at the time of Copernicus, Galileo and Descartes. Yet, the word “dogma” comes from the word “opinion”, or “belief”, in ancient Greek. Thus, dogmas as we think of them today are merely the socially generalised equivalent of our personal, individual beliefs. It’s belief on a social scale. Now, obviously, our personal beliefs would play a major role in our lives even without the dogmas we come to believe through our being part of a social group. And if the fact that the many beliefs we have independently of the dogmas we have are essential to our ability to function properly both in society and more generally in our environment, may be we need to recognise that dogmas play a similar role for social groups, including societies and indeed civilisations. So the capability to have beliefs probably goes back to at least the first dinosaurs 251 million years ago and certainly the first mammals around 210 million years ago. But to have a dogma requires, according to the sense of “socially generalised belief” I use here, some significant social relations, and here it’s more difficult to assess when this may have happened. Still, we’re probably still talking in millions of years, so nothing like the paltry 2000 years of things like the Catholic dogma. This certainly is enough to support the idea that dogmas are part and parcel of how any social group will inevitably function. That is not to say dogmas are necessary, merely that our societies work that way and we should keep that in mind before we try to dispose of them here and there without much thinking about what to put in place instead. History shows how dogmas are removed only for other dogmas to take their place. As I see it, dogmas, and dogmatic people, are there to stay and should be regarded indeed as necessary as long as we don’t know exactly how to live, and indeed survive, without them. I certainly wouldn’t be alive myself if not for the dogmatic people trudging along regardless of what our smart elite says. Obviously, we need our Copernicuses and our Einsteins to remove the ground under the feet of some of our dogmas, but only those dogmas that are obsolete because someone happens to know what to replace them with, and this ain’t going to happen everyday of the week. Still, the smart elite at the time of the Enlightenment successfully removed the Catholic Church’s dogma. Yet, it was only to replace it with the scientific dogma. It also seems a characteristic of our time that many different, and indeed incompatible, dogmas are allowed to somehow co-exist within the same societies. Indeed, the idea that this is a good thing should be regarded as a dogma of our democratic societies and a distinguishing fixture compared to all authoritarian regimes that still exist today.
So, before you think of getting rid of your personal dogmas, think twice. Go ahead with it only if you think you know what you’re doing. If not, tread carefully.
EB

[ Edited: 06 March 2019 09:41 by Speakpigeon]
 
Quadrewple
 
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06 March 2019 13:41
 
Speakpigeon - 06 March 2019 09:32 AM

Each dogma is essentially historically contingent but the fact that dogmas are a fixture of all human societies is a direct consequence of natural selection. Whenever we use this notion of natural selection, we better give the time-frame involved to get some perspective. For example, the general logical capability of the human brain is the end-product of something like at least 525 million years of nature selecting neurobiological systems over the entire surface of the Earth, over the whole thickness of the biosphere, in the seas, in the atmosphere, on the ground, and indeed below ground.

Well said.  When we think of every prescription we’re given as kids “Do this, Don’t do that” - they are essentially dogmas until we understand the reasons why.  If questioning someone else’s dogmas is typically met by a negative emotional response, that’s even more reason to suspect they are a significant evolutionary tool for humans.

Speakpigeon - 06 March 2019 09:32 AM

We may be tempted to think of dogmas as motivated essentially by social politics. This seems to be what people talk about when they discuss a dogma.

Usually, there will be some implicit reference to the dogma of the Catholic Church at the time of Copernicus, Galileo and Descartes. Yet, the word “dogma” comes from the word “opinion”, or “belief”, in ancient Greek. Thus, dogmas as we think of them today are merely the socially generalised equivalent of our personal, individual beliefs. It’s belief on a social scale.

Yeah, that’s the way I’m using the word here.

Speakpigeon - 06 March 2019 09:32 AM

Now, obviously, our personal beliefs would play a major role in our lives even without the dogmas we come to believe through our being part of a social group. And if the fact that the many beliefs we have independently of the dogmas we have are essential to our ability to function properly both in society and more generally in our environment, may be we need to recognise that dogmas play a similar role for social groups, including societies and indeed civilisations. So the capability to have beliefs probably goes back to at least the first dinosaurs 251 million years ago and certainly the first mammals around 210 million years ago. But to have a dogma requires, according to the sense of “socially generalised belief” I use here, some significant social relations, and here it’s more difficult to assess when this may have happened. Still, we’re probably still talking in millions of years, so nothing like the paltry 2000 years of things like the Catholic dogma. This certainly is enough to support the idea that dogmas are part and parcel of how any social group will inevitably function. That is not to say dogmas are necessary, merely that our societies work that way and we should keep that in mind before we try to dispose of them here and there without much thinking about what to put in place instead. History shows how dogmas are removed only for other dogmas to take their place. As I see it, dogmas, and dogmatic people, are there to stay and should be regarded indeed as necessary as long as we don’t know exactly how to live, and indeed survive, without them. I certainly wouldn’t be alive myself if not for the dogmatic people trudging along regardless of what our smart elite says. Obviously, we need our Copernicuses and our Einsteins to remove the ground under the feet of some of our dogmas, but only those dogmas that are obsolete because someone happens to know what to replace them with, and this ain’t going to happen everyday of the week. Still, the smart elite at the time of the Enlightenment successfully removed the Catholic Church’s dogma.

Yet, it was only to replace it with the scientific dogma. It also seems a characteristic of our time that many different, and indeed incompatible, dogmas are allowed to somehow co-exist within the same societies. Indeed, the idea that this is a good thing should be regarded as a dogma of our democratic societies and a distinguishing fixture compared to all authoritarian regimes that still exist today.

That’s the truth.  Anti-establishment for the sake of anti-establishment, for the sake of grabbing power (whether or not it’s conscious, and I’m not arguing that grabbing power is necessarily a bad thing, it’s more or less part of the deal anyone who accepts a centralized monopoly of force signed up for).  Certain people favor the first-mover advantage more than the second, maybe even for evolutionary reasons as well.

Speakpigeon - 06 March 2019 09:32 AM

So, before you think of getting rid of your personal dogmas, think twice. Go ahead with it only if you think you know what you’re doing. If not, tread carefully.
EB

One could argue it’s more feasible to replace them than to remove them, akin to how it’s more feasible to replace behaviors than remove them.

There is an argument to made also that the less dogmas someone has, the more adaptable they are.  They could also be more subject to the influence of others.  Adaptability and stability as concepts can have an antagonistic relationship with each other - not just a synergistic one.  Certain situations call for adaptation (changing oneself) and certain situations call for standing one’s ground, as you allude to at the end of your post.

I think we should also draw a distinction between the personal process of questioning one’s own dogmas and questioning dogmas at the societal level (both equally interesting topics).  As obvious as it sounds, we have dogmas about how we approach the dogmas of others and ourselves when we are granted a moment of personal insight, which is another topic in and of itself.

[ Edited: 06 March 2019 14:00 by Quadrewple]
 
 
Abel Dean
 
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10 March 2019 08:50
 
Speakpigeon - 06 March 2019 09:32 AM

Each dogma is essentially historically contingent but the fact that dogmas are a fixture of all human societies is a direct consequence of natural selection. Whenever we use this notion of natural selection, we better give the time-frame involved to get some perspective. For example, the general logical capability of the human brain is the end-product of something like at least 525 million years of nature selecting neurobiolological systems over the entire surface of the Earth, over the whole thickness of the biosphere, in the seas, in the atmosphere, on the ground, and indeed below ground. No one is going to beat that with a computer any time soon. We may be tempted to think of dogmas as motivated essentially by social politics. This seems to be what people talk about when they discuss a dogma. Usually, there will be some implicit reference to the dogma of the Catholic Church at the time of Copernicus, Galileo and Descartes. Yet, the word “dogma” comes from the word “opinion”, or “belief”, in ancient Greek. Thus, dogmas as we think of them today are merely the socially generalised equivalent of our personal, individual beliefs. It’s belief on a social scale. Now, obviously, our personal beliefs would play a major role in our lives even without the dogmas we come to believe through our being part of a social group. And if the fact that the many beliefs we have independently of the dogmas we have are essential to our ability to function properly both in society and more generally in our environment, may be we need to recognise that dogmas play a similar role for social groups, including societies and indeed civilisations. So the capability to have beliefs probably goes back to at least the first dinosaurs 251 million years ago and certainly the first mammals around 210 million years ago. But to have a dogma requires, according to the sense of “socially generalised belief” I use here, some significant social relations, and here it’s more difficult to assess when this may have happened. Still, we’re probably still talking in millions of years, so nothing like the paltry 2000 years of things like the Catholic dogma. This certainly is enough to support the idea that dogmas are part and parcel of how any social group will inevitably function. That is not to say dogmas are necessary, merely that our societies work that way and we should keep that in mind before we try to dispose of them here and there without much thinking about what to put in place instead. History shows how dogmas are removed only for other dogmas to take their place. As I see it, dogmas, and dogmatic people, are there to stay and should be regarded indeed as necessary as long as we don’t know exactly how to live, and indeed survive, without them. I certainly wouldn’t be alive myself if not for the dogmatic people trudging along regardless of what our smart elite says. Obviously, we need our Copernicuses and our Einsteins to remove the ground under the feet of some of our dogmas, but only those dogmas that are obsolete because someone happens to know what to replace them with, and this ain’t going to happen everyday of the week. Still, the smart elite at the time of the Enlightenment successfully removed the Catholic Church’s dogma. Yet, it was only to replace it with the scientific dogma. It also seems a characteristic of our time that many different, and indeed incompatible, dogmas are allowed to somehow co-exist within the same societies. Indeed, the idea that this is a good thing should be regarded as a dogma of our democratic societies and a distinguishing fixture compared to all authoritarian regimes that still exist today.
So, before you think of getting rid of your personal dogmas, think twice. Go ahead with it only if you think you know what you’re doing. If not, tread carefully.
EB

The origin of the word, “dogma,” does not inform the modern meaning of the concept. A dogma is not just any any belief, but it is a belief that functions to withstand the forces of potentially-truthful evidence and argument. The phenomenon does not follow directly from human natural selection, but it follows from memetic selection. The memes that have survived the forces of opposing argument are the memes that gained popularity in the world. Dogmas generally do not aid human survival. Biological viruses are also a fixture of all human societies, but they generally do more harm to human survival than good, because they belong to their own lineages of natural selection.

 
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19 March 2019 04:53
 
Abel Dean - 10 March 2019 08:50 AM

The origin of the word, “dogma,” does not inform the modern meaning of the concept.

???
Yes it does. Look it up here:

1. a system of principles or tenets, as of a church.
2. a specific tenet or doctrine authoritatively put forth, as by a church.
3. prescribed doctrine: political dogma.
4. an established belief or principle.

So, an established belief... And by established I think they mean a belief which is shared within a social group.
And the way you use it, a dogma is a belief.
So, either you’re just wrong or your giving the word “dogma” a private sense… Which would make any conversation difficult.

Abel Dean - 10 March 2019 08:50 AM

A dogma is not just any any belief,

I didn’t say that.

Abel Dean - 10 March 2019 08:50 AM

but it is a belief that functions to withstand the forces of potentially-truthful evidence and argument. The phenomenon does not follow directly from human natural selection, but it follows from memetic selection. The memes that have survived the forces of opposing argument are the memes that gained popularity in the world.

Socially generalised beliefs.
And not all dogmas need to have faced “the forces of opposing argument”.
And it’s just human nature that when you believe something you’re not going wilfully to concede your belief is wrong. Personal beliefs may be stronger in that respect than social dogmas, or even political or religious dogmas but not necessarily.

Abel Dean - 10 March 2019 08:50 AM

Dogmas generally do not aid human survival. Biological viruses are also a fixture of all human societies, but they generally do more harm to human survival than good, because they belong to their own lineages of natural selection.

I disagree. Social dogmas exist because of our social nature. A dogma gives cohesion to social groups, including whole societies and even civilisations. Dogmas become obsolete which is why they get bad press but they are necessary.
I have no idea what a “personal dogma” may be if not a belief, whatever it’s origin. All beliefs are resistant to some extent to empirical evidence that they are wrong.
Many of the beliefs we have are social dogmas and they come with the feeling that you better stick to it, call that peer pressure or the need to conform, so that social dogma may appear on the surface more resistant to contrary evidence.
Dogmas that have the smallest social import will be for example family dogmas where maybe the father will impart on the rest of the family some made-up doctrine. But without some social group, however small, I don’t see the need to use the word “dogma” to mean beliefs, even “strong” ones, if they’re not socially caused.
EB

 
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19 March 2019 05:35
 

Maybe you are not happy with the word, “dogma,” being used to denote “a belief that functions to withstand the forces of potentially-truthful evidence and argument.” But, that is what I mean with the word “dogma,” and we can easily have a conversation assuming that definition. If you like, then choose another word or phrase that fits that definition, and I will accommodate you.

 
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19 March 2019 09:04
 
Abel Dean - 19 March 2019 05:35 AM

Maybe you are not happy with the word, “dogma,” being used to denote “a belief that functions to withstand the forces of potentially-truthful evidence and argument.” But, that is what I mean with the word “dogma,” and we can easily have a conversation assuming that definition. If you like, then choose another word or phrase that fits that definition, and I will accommodate you.

Recommend going to the last few posts in the “science and religion” thread.

 
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25 March 2019 10:27
 
Abel Dean - 19 March 2019 05:35 AM

Maybe you are not happy with the word, “dogma,” being used to denote “a belief that functions to withstand the forces of potentially-truthful evidence and argument.” But, that is what I mean with the word “dogma,” and we can easily have a conversation assuming that definition. If you like, then choose another word or phrase that fits that definition, and I will accommodate you.

Well, I don’t think there is anything like “a belief that functions to withstand the forces of potentially-truthful evidence and argument.” We have beliefs, obviously, but the semantic contents of a belief doesn’t give it any property of withstanding evidence. What gives a belief any property at all is our brain. My belief that there is a lamp on my desk is based on the evidence of perception data: I have the impression that I am looking at a lamp and so I believe that there is a lamp. Please notice that I can deduce that there is in fact no lamp at all. I can deduce that from the general scientific view of the world. Yet, I still believe there is a lamp even though I have compelling rational ground to accept that there is in fact no lamp. So, here I have a belief that withstand the very plausibly truthful evidence provided by a deductive inference from scientific facts. Yet, to believe there is a lamp can hardly be considered “a dogma”.  However, this belief seems to fit your definition. Yet, it’s not the semantic contents of this belief that could explain its persistence in the face of contrary evidence. It’s persistence is probably explained by the nature  of this belief, i.e. that it is based on perception data and that our brain will obviously make sure we believe our perception data.
A trivial example, perhaps, but here there’s nothing you can do to stop yourself believing there is a lamp, or for that matter that there is such a material world as you perceive it to be.
It’s probably a good idea to try and get rid of what you call your dogmas, but I would think that the study of humanities is all there is you could try. There, you will find different people with different perspectives on things and no one can claim to know they are right. If that doesn’t provide perspective on things, I’m not sure what else could.
Also, most people are dogmatic. They’re not going to be able or even willing to help you very much, I think.
EB

[ Edited: 25 March 2019 10:29 by Speakpigeon]