Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Having beliefs is the ultimate cause of anxiety

My blog title is borrowed from a 2023 Aeon essay on Known unknowables. Known unknowns is another term for human beliefs and our related 7 Belief systems (ie, 2015 original, 2019 update, 2023 update). Beliefs are the “things” we know that we do not know but still believe.

“They thought of their scepticism as a way of life – as a way of reaching ataraxia or tranquillity. In their view, having beliefs is the ultimate cause of anxiety, and therefore the best way to avoid anxiety, to achieve peace of mind, is to get rid of beliefs altogether.” 

A quote from a 2023 Aeon essay on the ancient Sceptics

Apparently, I’m like the ancient Sceptics because doubt plays a central role in my life, including self-doubt. Having beliefs implies having no doubt (about those beliefs). The contrary must then also be true: having doubt leaves little room for having beliefs. Indeed, I only have a few beliefs.

In my view, the anxiety mentioned in my blog title does not relate to having self-doubt on our beliefs. I suppose this anxiety refers to the discomfort of others having “wrongbeliefs (eg, Democrats vs Republicans in USA). Obviously, our own beliefs “must” be right and “cannot” be wrong.

The anti-social media provides the main platform to express that the beliefs of others are (very) wrong. Any doubt on those beliefs is often ridiculed. Once you take sides, your group will protect you (eg, the like button). Hence, our social polarization from micro (eg, individuals) to macro (eg, society).

Does this mean that I do not feel anxiety?

No. I do feel anxiety but not in the Knowledge domain (ie, Philosophy, Science, the Truth), and/or the Power domain (ie, Money, Politics, Technology) of the 7 Belief systems (eg, 2023 update). It took me a while before finding the 3rd domain and 7th belief in 2015: Love – a 7th Belief system.

Love is an interesting and intriguing belief system because it’s also a belief that may well apply to other species than humans, like animals (eg, CNN-2018). Love is the most obvious belief (system), for which we are all searching, and which was – and still is – the hardest one to find (sic!).

Right To Be Wrong (2004) by Joss Stone
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-artist, Wiki-song

I’ve got a right to be wrong
My mistakes will make me strong
I’m stepping out into the great unknown
I’m feeling wings though I’ve never flown
Got a mind of my own
I’m flesh and blood to the bone
I’m not made of stone
Got a right to be wrong
So just leave me alone

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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