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José Víctor Orón Semper, researcher of the 'group Mente-cerebro ' del Institute for Culture and Society

Terms and mentalities. Beliefs

Thu, 05 Apr 2018 11:01:00 +0000 Posted in Education PRESS

Have you ever wondered why you believe what you believe? Are the positions you hold due to your beliefs or to the emotions aroused by those positions? Can one decide what to believe? Why are beliefs often understood as normative and even contrary to emotions? What is believing? And do you believe in people or in ideas?

It is known that emotions and beliefs influence each other bidirectionally. For example, there are programs of study that show that we give more credibility to news if they are in line with our beliefs and if, in addition, the news is pleasant. In the other cases it is not clear what happens. It is also known that, as average, between the ages of 20 and 40, people give more credibility to unpleasant news. The relationship between the two is very strong in such a way that the effect of the emotion depends on the belief about its influence. For example, if people believe that they will be more efficient in doing a task if they are in a particular emotional state (nervous or relaxed), they will certainly be more efficient when that emotional status is present. That is, those who thought that the ideal status was to be calm acted efficiently when they were calm and not when they were nervous. But if, faced with the same task, another person thought that he would be more efficient if he was nervous, then he was efficient when nervous and not when calm.

Experiences like these make us wonder why we believe what we believe or why I am moved by what moves me. Do I believe it because it moves me or am I moved by it because I believe it? In this article we develop the meeting between belief and emotion, but that does not mean that beliefs and emotions are related bidirectionally apart from another sea of relationships such as lived experiences, the objectives that people have, the quality of relationships, and so on.

At UpToYou, we don't want to understand anything apart from the complexity of all relationships. But it was St. Thomas who said that it is worthwhile to reach the sea by the rivers. Let us now travel along the river of belief-emotion in the hope that we will be able to know the sea, and by knowing the sea, we will better understand the river.

It is difficult to clarify the topic if we do not first clarify what it is to believe. I must clarify that, when we use the word believe, I am not referring to religious belief (professing a concrete faith), nor to a subject of knowledge insecure or uncertain. Belief is that mental outline we have about ourselves, our relationships and the world itself. In that sense, belief is similar to other words such as worldview or mindset. For example, when you woke up this morning, you put your feet off the bed because you believed-believed (even if you didn't reason at that hour) that, if yesterday the law of gravity was active, it would be active today morning. Beliefs, seen in this way, cloud our whole life and, thanks to them, we can live in a very complex world. Because beliefs allow me to do things without having data or allow me to interpret the few data that we capture from reality. Beliefs are therefore that mental outline that we apply to reality and that allow us to understand it. Without beliefs, life would be so complicated that we would die, because at every moment we would have to learn everything and, by the time we would have known reality, we would have already suffered some accident. Understanding the totality having few data financial aid us to survive in this world and it is beliefs, together with other dimensions (such as the intentionality of the action, for example), that help us to formulate a judgment of what is happening.

This allows us to see that beliefs have to do with a learning process staff . In the beliefs we find the deposit of all that we have learned. The experiences that we live, which are certainly very emotional, we elaborate them with very subjective processes, in such a way that little by little they are endowed with meaning (see the term meaning) and in the measure that we remember them we re-signify them (see the terms report and re-signification). But beliefs are more than the meaning of things, since beliefs are the way we give unity to the world of meanings. They would come to be something like the meaning of meanings. This world of beliefs, to the extent that it is formed, gains in entity until it is an operating principle from which we situate ourselves before reality.

Being a principle from which we access reality, they are influencing the same emotional experience of reality. This already sample that the emotions influence the beliefs in the process of training and once formed are these which influence the emotions. But with each new experience, our world is put to test and therefore beliefs are in continuous re-elaboration.

But we have not yet clarified what it is to believe. In the introduction to article I asked the question: Do we believe in people or in ideas? I will answer the question from a biblical text to see how within the same Bible there are different ways of understanding what it is to believe. In the Gospel of Luke we find a curious dialogue where demons speak through the mouth of a demoniac. The text says:

There was a man in the synagogue who was possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he began to cry out, "What have you against us, Jesus of Nazareth? -What have you against us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent and come out of him!

The truth is that it is striking how many things demons know. Demons can recognize that in the person of Jesus is the Son of God, they know that God wants the good of the human being and they know that he has the power to achieve it. Demons know a lot. It is curious, because if you ask someone what it is to believe in God, there are people who would answer that to believe in God is to believe that he exists, that he has a plan of how things have to be (commandments, for example) and that he has the power to carry it out. That is to say, there are people for whom believing in God is believing in ideas, but these people should be told that they have a demonic style of faith, because demons already believe that.

In the Bible we also find another way of understanding faith. A faith staff. It is a moment in which Peter is aware that he has betrayed Jesus, but in spite of this he says: "Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you" and Jesus answers him "Follow me". Here appears another way of understanding faith as submission staff . Demons know many things and do many things. Peter knows few things and the things he does are not very good. submission But there is one thing that Peter does that the demons do not do: Peter entrusts himself to Jesus, he entrusts himself to Him.

For the demons, believing is understood as a certain adherence to a certain way of understanding the world and believing is believing ideas. For Peter, believing is an interpersonal relationship and one believes in a person. There is thus a clear contrast between reference letter to normativity and reference letter to interpersonal relationship.

The demons and Peter help us understand what it is to believe. Earlier we said that beliefs are that "outline mental we have about how we are ourselves, our relationships and the world itself". But that could be understood as reference letter to a normativity of how things are or as a reference letter to interpersonal relationships. Our beliefs are not therefore a more or less rules and regulations list of what things mean, but the conceptualized expression of the way we relate to this world according to the interpersonal relationships we develop.

This discussion is parallel to the discussion on what is the meaning of something (see term meaning). Meaning is not merely a set of data or characteristics grouped by their frequency of occurrence in relation to an object, but meaning is primarily the expression of the value of a reality in the interpersonal relationships where it occurs.

If it is understood that beliefs have been formed from the world of meaning in the interpersonal meeting , then, to believe something is to believe in the best way to relate to someone. In such a case, belief (as a theoretical principle) ceases to have that function rules and regulations to be one more source of information so that the person, facing the complexity of life, decides what to do. I am sure that affirming that beliefs are not normative will arouse concern in many people. Normative means that something must morally conform to that plan. But if beliefs are subsequent to the interpersonal relationship, it makes no sense that they should then come to govern the interpersonal relationship.

We could pose it as a question: What do you believe for? What are beliefs for? Earlier I said that beliefs help us to know how to situate ourselves because, if every time we had to learn everything or had to study all the data, we would have already died. In this sense, beliefs are normative because they help us to know how to situate ourselves and interpret reality. But if beliefs are rigid, they end up impeding the meeting with the novelty that the presence of a person implies. We know this, for example, through the problem caused by prejudice. I suppose that we have all experienced at some time the error that prejudices lead us to, for example, when we judge someone because we believed something and then realize that we have not been able to discover the beauty of the other person. For this reason, I think that all belief, including religious belief, cannot be rules and regulations. That is to say, the reference letter cannot be the rule but the other in his concrete presence. That is why beliefs also have to submit to this reference letter. A belief that does not help me to be able to meet the other as a person is of little use.

Peter has shown us that believing by giving oneself fosters meeting. I repeat, if beliefs arise from giving unity to the world of meanings and meanings show the value of the world at the crossroads of interpersonal relationships, then beliefs, at their most intimate root, condense the experience of our interpersonal encounters. Therefore, it makes no sense to give belief a normative value per se, but to place it at the very service of the interpersonal meeting . subject Where belief is an ideal-belief, it is easy for all kinds of fanaticism to arise: political, religious, social... Where belief is a belief-submission, it is easy for acceptance to arise staff.

Life and the experience of relationship staff come before any process of idealization or conceptualization. Piaget, who is often unfairly accused of focusing too much on the cognitive development as an individual power, said that we act on psychological principles rather than conceptual principles. Life precedes. And Vygostky, who is often put as a counterpoint to Piaget, pointed out that life and interpersonal relationships are what give meaning to reality, since objects have no meaning in themselves.


We could also ask ourselves about the beliefs that a teacher has when entering class. If the teacher believes that educating is a technical matter of acquiring competences, then he/she will contrast student with a normativity and will put student at the service of skill and will regulate his/her relations with student according to such normativity. If, on the other hand, the teacher believes that educating is helping people to grow, he/she will put the tasks at the service of development of student and will live an interpersonal relationship with student of closeness and meeting. The truth is that it is worth asking about the beliefs of the teachers who deal with your child. Possibly some have normative beliefs (belief-idea) of what class should be and adjust everything to it and others will have beliefs in the service of the interpersonal meeting (belief-submission). I say that it is necessary to be attentive to this, not only because it is affecting the way of treating the students, but because with the lived experiences they are also educating the students in a way of believing.

If what you believe is not useful for the interpersonal meeting , why do you believe it? In this sense, the discussion at the beginning, whether beliefs or emotions come first, would be resolved because the first (and the last) is the interpersonal relationship. Both emotions and beliefs are born by the way of living interpersonal relationships and it is convenient to take them as a financial aid for the interpersonal meeting .

I hope this article has helped you to enter the sea of interpersonal relationships through the river of beliefs-emotions.