Belief Systems

As used here the term ‘belief system’ refers to a coherent philosophical structure for a range of beliefs, a world view, which informs our conscious behaviour. Philosophers have generally sought to establish a certainty, a secure basis, for these beliefs. Our concern here has been to examine the meaning and to establish the status of our beliefs.

We have noted that all our concepts and beliefs are anthropocentric and subjective – the consequence of our species-specific brain reacting with the universe. We do not approach the universe with a ‘blank sheet’. Our concepts and beliefs have their genesis in the architecture of our brain and senses which delivers some specific cognitive processes. Thus we are conditioned to think in some characteristic manner involving a priori concepts some necessary given premises. These a priori grounds are implicit, but sometimes not acknowledged, in traditional philosophical discourse.

René Descartes is probably the best recognised in a search for philosophic certainty. Consider Descartes’ well-known (and much abused) assertion ‘cogito ergo sum’ (‘I think therefore I am’). On analysis, deconstruction if you like, we can see that this proposition rests on a priori grounds as follows:

The ‘I’, recognises a conscious ‘self’.
The ‘think’, indicates an innate subjectivity.
The ‘therefore’, recognises logic and reason.
The ‘am’, indicates an epistemological certainty … or does it?