Soft Beliefs
value, meaning and purpose

Strictly taken, our hard beliefs, our scientific and historical facts, are without value. We cannot assign importance or significance to our hard facts until we declare our soft beliefs, until, that is, we declare our world view. These soft beliefs include our political/social beliefs, religious faiths, humanist narratives and all declarations of human values. The assertion of our soft beliefs allows us to attribute to our hard beliefs, to our facts, a value, a meaning and purpose.

Our hard beliefs are predominantly genetically determined. Our soft beliefs are more personal and culturally predisposed. Thus, while soft beliefs might differ within a culture they differ chiefly between cultures. Nevertheless, it is possible to identify an important sub-set of our soft beliefs that is trans-cultural and universal. This was discussed in the chapter ‘Universals and Universality’.

So what is the status of our soft beliefs? Reason or empirical experience alone cannot lead us to our soft beliefs, for they can be only contingent assertions. But reason and empirical evidence must condition and delimit our assertions, i.e. our soft beliefs must be internally rationally coherent, and must be rationally consistent with our hard beliefs, i.e. with how we view our empirical evidence.

Soft beliefs are, then, asserted concepts, rationally cohesive but not dependent on reason alone; not dependent on empirical experience but consistent with it.