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  1. #1
    Member The Machine Stops's Avatar
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    Default believe and identity

    Something that came up in a discussion about what makes up who we are. This person I was discussing this with, she is a very traditional one. She believes that our believes, our thoughts, our opinions, they make up who we are. They are what makes up our identity, and if we change them, then we aren't the same person anymore.

    I responded to that by saying that we are not the believes we hold, but the vessel which holds these believes, and even if they may change, that was makes us who we are does not.

    Do you think that is hard to follow?
    Do you think there may be some truth to it?
    Can you think of a better way to frame this thought?

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Machine Stops View Post
    Something that came up in a discussion about what makes up who we are. This person I was discussing this with, she is a very traditional one. She believes that our believes, our thoughts, our opinions, they make up who we are. They are what makes up our identity, and if we change them, then we aren't the same person anymore.

    I responded to that by saying that we are not the believes we hold, but the vessel which holds these believes, and even if they may change, that was makes us who we are does not.

    Do you think that is hard to follow?
    Do you think there may be some truth to it?
    Can you think of a better way to frame this thought?
    If we identify with our beliefs, then naturally our identity is our beliefs.

    And frankly this is normal. The other day I had a muslim tell me that islam is his identity. And this is true for other religions.

    Perhaps if we look at it this way - in primary and secondary school we learn our beliefs, and in tertiary education we learn to criticise our beliefs.

    However almost all in the world never reach tertiary education and so naturally they identify with their beliefs.

    Also criticising one's own beliefs comes with a cost, and that cost is cognitive dissonance. And cognitive dissonance is emotionally painful. It's almost as though nature protects us from criticising our own beliefs by making it emotionally painful.

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    Member The Machine Stops's Avatar
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    The question stems from a fear I have witnessed often. I call it the fear of identity death, which is a fear as powerful as the fear of actual death, but connected to losing assumptions one holds. But when this Muslim you gave as an example loses his faith in Islam for whatever reason, because, perhaps, he is not capable of placing something confronted with inside the framework of his faith, and assuming it's not his reality that shatters but his faith, he is still alive. He still sees through his own eyes, he still hears with his own ears, feels with his own hands, and so forth. He is not really dead. So, if he was what he believed, then what is he now?

    I find it interesting that you mention cognitive dissonance as something of a cost when criticizing your own believe system. That is a concept I'll have to think on. It's a new perspective for me. For me it's been exactly the other way around. I used to have a believe system that I had faith in which was based on the very flawed notion that life is fair as it's central pillar. I was young, and dumb, (and needed the money). There is only so much that you can witness and rationalize away, even if you include such concepts as karma, beliefs in the afterlife and reward after death. In order to hold on to my belief I would have been required to dismiss, or suppress data staring me right in the face. Or am I not understanding the concept of cognitive dissonance correctly?

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    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Machine Stops View Post
    Something that came up in a discussion about what makes up who we are. This person I was discussing this with, she is a very traditional one. She believes that our believes, our thoughts, our opinions, they make up who we are. They are what makes up our identity, and if we change them, then we aren't the same person anymore.

    I responded to that by saying that we are not the believes we hold, but the vessel which holds these believes, and even if they may change, that was makes us who we are does not.

    Do you think that is hard to follow?
    Do you think there may be some truth to it?
    Can you think of a better way to frame this thought?
    Being a traditionalist doesnt necessarily mean clinging unflinchingly or unreflectively to traditions, its about knowing what is important and useful, worth defending, sharing and providing as a legacy to others and what is not or which in the light of new insights could only be preserved or endure only in a changed form (although a change which honours the original and precursory form instead of a change which is simply a departure, difference or divergence).

    The way I see it is that it is like someone who in later life wears the clothes that they found fashionable in their youth, the appearence/clothes are the same as a earlier time but supposing that the man is the same is a mistake, they have grown since the day they acquired the habit of dress.

    To be honest I think that beliefs and values are important, although they're not sufficient, if you have no essential self besides those beliefs and values or sources of identity then you're a poor self, possibly even a poor self or false self and that can be troubling on a conscience or disturb the mind.

    Its interesting that you know a traditionalist who feels that way, most of the time people arent conscious of traditions, beliefs, values or identity at all, often only in so far as its contrary something they think is wicked, the modern vogue is that you're going to attack the past, try and erase it, divest yourself of all that's gone before.

    That and to strongly identify with minorities, which have experienced historic or presently are experiencing marginalise, persecution, perhaps just people not being sensitive enough to their uniqueness, some combination of the both maybe. You mightnt know any of the same minorities personally but that doesnt make a difference.

    Both trends are problematic, people are storing up problems for themselves, denying their own personal identity to vaguely affirm others or the present or future. There's got to be a middle ground some how or a more realistic balance to be struck.

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    I agree with your friend.

    Right now keeps happening. Right now is all that exists.
    Who I was yesterday is not who I am today.
    Everything is in constant stare of flux.

    If we are to consider ourselves above the animals, then this is the only way possible.
    Forward thought and the ability to change by making choices.
    What I valued 20 years ago does not apply today unless I choose to continue to value it.

    I think the word for it on grander scale than actual academics, is; Education.
    If I know something today and believe it to be true and didn't yesterday, then today I have changed simply by having a new perspective.

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    [...]the modern vogue is that you're going to attack the past, try and erase it, divest yourself of all that's gone before.
    I believe this to be true for every generation. Every generation fails. Every generation succeeds.
    In my opinion belief is identity, whether it comes from the external world or from the internal world. Belief is something that is done with hope, trying to fixate on something in the everchanging. Even your body changes and you may not even be aware of it because you have turned a blind eye (memory, expected future etc.). If the vessel argument to hold true, there's an urban rumor hanging around that every cell in my body will have been replaced within 7 years of time.

    The tale of Peter Pan had it all working for it. Neverland a wonderful token of this.

    Neverland being my fact and your opinion being my memory. It's all gone.


    (sorry but I had to add that last part in red, it was just perfect. Cliche of a madman. )

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    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gtzk View Post
    I believe this to be true for every generation. Every generation fails. Every generation succeeds.
    And so a lot of avoidable suffering takes place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    And so a lot of avoidable suffering takes place.
    Have you ever had insights that hasn't turned out to be correct? A guess that didn't Really fit the situation as intended? Just a tiny nudge wrong? No need to get out of the closet here. I don't mean that it's not possible to change, I would LOVE THAT CHANGE but after a lot of thought and some mistakes later, suffering is part of learning. Whether it is from a book or from loosing an arm in a sawing machine. Learning is part of changing identity. When I learn things that are in my "nature" to learn, I don't notice the discomfort I feel when I am changed, because I get changed by my own choice.

    When we can store human memory in cells that get injected into babies and grow into our brains as we mature, giving information on experiences they never had but indeed have been through; I'll start thinking about if that could help with parts of the suffering but until then I'm going to view it as a part ... who am I kidding? I agree with you.
    I just don't want to because of the emotional qualm when doing mistakes that needs to be done. What I mean is realization is part of the understanding and it'll be spoken in rhymes forever - 'til humanity dies/turns into robots/is granted with immortality by Sirius/transplanted our mind into the ever growing www etc.

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    Senior Member ThinkingAboutIt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Machine Stops View Post
    Something that came up in a discussion about what makes up who we are. This person I was discussing this with, she is a very traditional one. She believes that our believes, our thoughts, our opinions, they make up who we are. They are what makes up our identity, and if we change them, then we aren't the same person anymore.

    I responded to that by saying that we are not the believes we hold, but the vessel which holds these believes, and even if they may change, that was makes us who we are does not.

    Do you think that is hard to follow?
    Do you think there may be some truth to it?
    Can you think of a better way to frame this thought?
    Your friend is correct. What you think and resolve in your mind as right will become your speech and will influence your actions and response in life. It will change who you are, how you think in the future, how you act, how you feel, how you respond etc. (it changes your worldview - everything gets filtered through that).
    Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

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    The best and most immediate way to establish our identity is through violence.

    So those who are between two worlds, say the Islamic world of their parents and the liberal democratic world of their new country, can resolve their identity crisis through jihad.

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