On believing oneself free of beliefs

"Since beliefs are largely unconscious and are not simply derived from experience, and since clearly, at least for most people, beliefs change, the question arises, how do they change?  This is too complicated a question to address, because the factors that create change are too numerous and because the possibility of change cannot itself be divorced from beliefs about change.  Moreover, it is difficult to distinguish change in belief from modification or refinement of belief or from simple exchange by which a person's present beliefs are inversions of former beliefs now rejected, as is so often true of atheistic beliefs.  Finally, it is as much to be expected that a person will become more entrenched in beliefs when they become conscious as that the person will reject them.  I would say that in our culture beliefs change primarily because of the lingering notion that to have them is to be unenlightened and that full enfranchisement in the culture is tied to dissolving them.  Indeed, one of the regnant beliefs of our culture is not only that we operate without beliefs and scriptures but that we live without the assistance of culture, encounter reality directly, and see things as they really are.  Unlike other peoples and people of former centuries, we live in the world and not in a world, in the world as it actually is.  Consequently, people in academic culture tend not to exchange beliefs for other beliefs but to value incredulity, cynicism, and impatience with belief above all else and imagine themselves in a world devoid not only of belief but of the conditionings and determinations of a particular culture."

--Welsey A. Kort, "Take, Read": Scripture, Textuality, and Cultural Practice (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996), p. 10.


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