The centrality of belief

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This article is at an early stage of development.

Our beliefs are the core of our psychology, because they're central to each major psychological process:

  • Our emotions are aroused by the content of our beliefs, including beliefs generated via our senses.
  • Our reasoning is based on our current beliefs, and a conclusion is a belief.
    • Our imagination aids our reasoning, by enabling us to generate, for analysis, possibilities, and mental models of chains of events, including mental events.
  • Our actions are based on our beliefs - that is, about the world, and how best to interact with it in order to achieve our goals.
  • The purpose of perception is to form beliefs about our surroundings, and the perceptual process is influenced by our current beliefs.
  • The purpose of language is to try to:
    • communicate our beliefs to others, including beliefs about our feelings
    • cause others to adopt our beliefs
    • obtain information from others in order to form, or test, beliefs.
  • The purpose of memory is to:
    • store our beliefs, to enable them to continue to exist when they're not involved in our thought processes
    • store perceptual information, to enable it to be used in the future to help form beliefs.

The centrality of belief to psychology means that credulism, and the certainty of belief, are radical theories not just in their departure from the current understanding of the formation, and nature, of beliefs, but also in their profound implications for the whole field of psychology. And the centrality of our psychology to our lives means that those profound implications extend into any field that's concerned with how humans live, including how they interact: ethics, politics, law, economics, sociology, anthropology, business, management, and so on. And the application of the field of psychology, and these other fields, then extends those profound implications into our lives.