In the comments of a recent post, i promised Gorm to say something about astrology, and he replied that he thinks that “superstitions” are a generally interesting topic. The post about astrology is still coming, but let me just advance that it will not be, at all, a post about superstitions.
Actually, i think i have already covered this idea, but using different words.
I think i am including the idea of “superstition” in the broad[er] category of Beliefs‡.
Let me propose that a superstition is a Belief that is not backed by objective evidence or concrete data. But, as i said, beliefs come before experiences. That is, you can test your beliefs, but this does not make them UN-superstitious or concrete or final. Testing enhances the reliability of Beliefs, but it does not change their nature. Ultimately, every belief is untried for the future, and the past contains only a fraction of the total experience.
There is no difference between knowledge and belief. To know something is to believe the world to be in a specific state or condition. Both are externalizations of mind, which is impossible but worthwhile.
Superstitions have actually suffered from a specific ideological struggle, one between Catholic Church establishment (close to, but not exactly, dogma) and an fledgling development model (which has been called many things from humanism to bourgeois to globalization). Superstition has become a kind of synonym to falsehood, but it isn’t necessarily so.
The very idea of splitting knowledge between superstitious and scientific is, at best, partial. It assumes a given taxonomy of the ways we can have contact with the world. And this is not only complex, it is dangerous.
Not that i will actually propose a movement for the revaluation of superstitions, i just think this word (as a tool for thinking) is best left untouched.