Re: virus: Phaith page on

Eric Boyd (
Sat, 5 Jun 1999 18:19:30 -0400


KMO <> writes:

> Faith and phaith differ in that the former advises
> breaking (2) when evidence *is* actually present,
> while the latter says that {in cases where evidence
> can never be applied / for non-falsifiable propositions},
> you may choose to believe/value/embody the
> proposition, rather than taking the agnostic position.

One of the points I was most hoping to make in my defense of a certain kind of faith is that it is not tied to belief. "Belief," when used to mean commitment to the truth of a proposition, is no part of phaith at all.

I don't know. That is *such* a fine line. Do you remember our discussions of truth in the past on this list? Didn't we once say that a good way to judge "true belief" of a proposition by a person was to observe them and see if they behaved "as if" it was true? What is the difference between acting on a "phaith" (to coin the noun) becuase you value it, and not becuase of it's truth value; and the more usual acting on a "faith" becuase you think it's true?

Is there a difference?

> As opposed to the usefulness of the proposition?
> The value of the proposition?

Focus on abstractions, on propositions, on belief is not what I had in mind when I was trying to make a case for a particular brand of faith. The immediate experience of feeling connected with an intelligence or a system larger than oneself (as usually defined, i.e. ending at the top layer of skin but sometimes being extended to include the clothes one is wearing or the car one is driving) can have an animating effect that dramatically increases our feeling of aliveness and moves us to a greater level of connection and compassion. >>

This I understand -- and the name of such experience is "neotic". What I don't understand (I guess) is how one gets from there to phaith. How do you retain the experience and act on it? How does one avoid the conversion-to-dogma you talk about below? How does one even understand ones phaith if it's conversion into propositions is a no-no?

In terms of my interests, when you talk about acceptance of, believe in, or commitment to a PROPOSITION, you are outside of the domain of phaith.

In order to communicate one's phaith, one is likely to formulate propositions, but when we start to take those words too seriously we tread on the border of dogma and expose ourselves to it's demonstrated risks.

Richard: could you please make a comment here about the relationship of this paragraph to your ideas of *clarity of purpose*?

> In this way, we can continue to say that phaith, per say,
> has nothing to do with truth; phaith has to do with value,
> with meaning and gnosis (self-knowledge).

I think that works if you are not bothered by the implication that gnosis has nothing to do with truth. It doesn't bother me at all. >>

Does it bother me? [...] I don't think so. Gnosis doesn't have anything to do with truth; gnosis has to do with freewill, and purpose. One might say that we *make* gnosis true, but that is strictly secondary...