Great guest post over at Irregular Webcomic! #3251:
Why do some sensible-seeming folk have beliefs which have no
generally accepted scientific basis? In particular, why do some
people who generally come across as intelligent and logical go and
“spoil” it all by expressing a belief in God?
It can be easy to dismiss such beliefs as superstitious nonsense
without a second thought, especially when the belief is accompanied
by an actively anti-scientific viewpoint, as it too often is.
But what if rational, scientific folk are some of the people who
hold such beliefs? Is this notion a contradiction in terms?
Apparently not – some critical thinkers, mathematicians, and
scientists, even Nobel prize winners, profess to hold such beliefs.
Why? This is not only an enormous question to answer, but it’s a
question whose answer varies from individual to individual.
The article is not that long, and delves into some really great discussion. Go read!
I wish I had heard of this term before; the concept is quite familiar.
Mono no aware (物の哀れ), literally "the pathos of things", and also translated as "an empathy toward things", or "a sensitivity to ephemera", is a Japanese term used to describe the awareness of impermanence (無常 mujō), or transience of things, and a gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing.
Search prompted by a Roger Ebert review of “Moonrise Kingdom” starring (among others) Bill Murray:
Murray is always right for a role in an [Wes] Anderson film, and I wonder if it’s because they share a bemused sadness. You can’t easily imagine Murray playing a manic or a cut-up; his eyes, which have always been old eyes, look upon the world and waver between concern and disappointment. In Anderson’s films, there is a sort of resignation to the underlying melancholy of the world; he is the only American director I can think of whose work reflects the Japanese concept mono no aware, which describes a wistfulness about the transience of things.
In a way, Buddha predicts the Internet:
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and common sense.”
While I can’t really disagree with this, it is quite possible to abuse this philosophy. If one simply uses their own pre-installed beliefs, prejudices, attitudes, and such to determine whether something is true or valid, that can easily lead one to only take in advice one already agrees with. This is tricky. Sometimes, what one needs is to hear or read something that completely disagrees with what one already believes or knows in order to escape a rut, have their eyes unlidded, or become aware something one is or has been missing in one’s life.