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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.

One Comment

  1. I agree there is no essential difference between knowledge and belief. But beliefs have degrees of soundness. Scientific beliefs are sound, in that they are in accord with the scientific method, which is about de-mystifying beliefs, externalizing them into the open, where they can be scrutinized by peers. Astrology is not sound in the same sense as scientific beliefs are, but you might have a jungian account of their soundness, i.e. the process of projecting meaning into the external world (even when the external world does not support the specific meanings you are projecting) is helpful for understanding your internal structure. In other words: Astrology might be an interface for you to understand and manipulate your internal states. Perhaps one can use it to calm down nervousness or scatterbrainedness. I don’t really know, as I have no experience with astrology.

    Now, such analyzing of superstition tend to disspell it, something which makes a lot of superstitious people very defensive and anti-rational. I don’t think that analyzing necessarily disspells superstitious or mythical thinking, not if the analysis is sufficiently broad, like Jungs.

    This is the area I was wondering if you had any thoughts on.

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