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Epistemology

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My Own Epistemology: In the Making

Am I living in an illusion? What will happen to me after I die? Is there really such thing as a God? I have struggled with these three questions throughout my entire life, and I was very intrigued to discover that all of these questions were addressed throughout the many different readings in Libs 201: Exploring the Unknown. Author Chris Frith dissects the idea that the mental world is an illusion created by the brain in his book Making Up The Mind. Antony Flew, a former atheist, argues that there is such thing as a God or an “agent” and backs up his theory using science. Emile Durkheim writes about the foundation of religious thought in primitive people thousands of years ago, and addresses the question of where religious impulse comes from in humans. All of these readings address epistemological questions beyond the scientific domain of research, and I am left with an open mind as I try and retain all of the different concepts and ideas each of these authors has to offer.
According to Chris Frith, the mental world is an illusion caused by the brain. In Making up the Mind, Frith addresses the distinction between the mental and the physical world, and claims that there isn’t actually a distinction at all. Frith writes, “Most of our interactions with other people are interactions between minds, not between bodies.” This statement really stood out to me, and I found myself repeating these words over and over again inside of my head. Reading all of Frith’s concepts and ideas about our mental world being an illusion reminded me of the way I used to think when I was very young. Throughout my early childhood I used to constantly wonder if I was trapped inside of a dream that I couldn’t wake up from. I thought that maybe when I died, I would wake up from my dream and find myself in another world. Reading Making Up The Mind brought back a rush of old memories and I found myself relating many of my old thoughts to a lot of Chris Frith’s philosophies. As I grew older, the more knowledge I gained over the years served as a way for me to sort out my doubts and fears about the world around me. I no longer believe that I am living in a dream or an illusion, but I still struggle with whether or not to believe that some type of God or divine power really does exist. The more I read about other author’s concepts and ideas on religion, the closer I get to finding peace within myself. For now I am simply a sponge doing my best to retain as much knowledge and information as I can about religion, philosophy, and science; and as I grow and mature I hope to one day be able to finally calm the overwhelming current of unanswered questions and doubt that constantly run through my mind. Antony Flew was a former atheist who transformed his beliefs in a divine power as he grew older, and he wrote a book about his new discoveries titled There Is a God. In his book he addresses why he no longer believes in Atheism and he writes, “In short, my discovery of the divine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith.” I really enjoyed reading about Flew’s transformation from atheism to theism, because I feel as though we are exact opposites when it comes to our religious discoveries. Flew was born and raised as a Christian with a minister as a father, and as he entered early adulthood he disregarded any belief in a God. For me, I grew up in a very secular household, and as I have begun my journey into adulthood I have had this overwhelming feeling inside of me that something is missing. I have struggled with the idea of God for a long time, and the more I begin to think about what will happen to me after I die, the more panicked I feel about my lack of faith. Reading about Antony Flew’s discovery of God after many years of denying its existence gave me hope that maybe somewhere along the road I will be able to find peace within myself, whether it comes from accepting the idea of a God into my life, or something as simple as meditating in order to fill the emptiness inside of me.
All of the readings in Libs 201 have allowed me to view religion and philosophy in a new light, and I really enjoy being able to read about many different authors perspectives and ideas that I had never considered prior to this class. Whether it is Emile Durkheim discussing the foundation of religious thought in primitive people thousands of years ago, or Michael Shermer writing about how the human brain constructs beliefs and reinforces them as truths, I am constantly absorbing brilliant new ideas and perspectives regarding the foundation of philosophical and religious thought in humans. I have come to the conclusion that my epistemology is still in the making, and my sponge of a brain has not yet absorbed enough experience and knowledge for me to feel confident in my own thoughts and beliefs at this point in my life. I believe that with every new book or article that I read, I feel my mind expanding more and more, and maybe one day I will finally be able to say “There really is a God out there, and I know this because…”. There is also a chance that I’ll discover that I am more like Shermer and I will come to the conclusion that our brain simply creates the idea of a God due to the process of patternicity, the tendency to find meaningful patterns in both meaningful and meaningless data. For now, all I can do is retain as many different concepts and philosophies as I can in order to bring me one step closer to discovering my own epistemology.…...

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