thread: 2011-07-11 : Hooray for Religion

On 2011-07-16, Josh W wrote:


I'll check if I understand you, are you saying that there are those beliefs that are predictions of the world, and those beliefs that are internal values?

Eg I belive that people will be unimpressed by my not using a lift, because they wanted to talk to me in the lift and that other people will be unimpressed if I do use it, because it breaks the sabbath in their opinion.
But I also believe it's better not to do it, not as any particular prediction, but because I think it's just better to be not doing it than to be doing it.

So the former is an estimation of consequences, and the latter is a statement of goals.

So people have a value structure that means they place that "not-breaking-of-the-sabbath" system, and it's perpetuation, as an end in itself. They just don't want to do things that break the sabbath in their eyes, and they want to do things that don't?

Or are you saying something different? About absurd vs justified beliefs?

To some extent I think talking about beliefs can be a bit like going "so you say", in a sense it's obvious, but the emphasis is on the falability of the statement, belief vs reality.

My perspective is that treating something as "just a belief" can be a way of saying, "I will treat this as having existence only as something in your head". In other words assuming by default that the possible gap between thought and the world has opened up. "Fine, it's a belief, but I won't give the idea any more credit than that."  Pretty rude really.

"Just a theory" is exactly the same mechanism.

Now here's the problem, if we go "yeah whatever, beliefs are just along for the ride, a reflection of our drives and habits to justify them against criticism" I think we run the risk of ignoring those times, those moments of conscience, when beliefs really do matter.

Now for a lot of people a lot of the time, (including me) there is no such thing, they go go along with stories that make them feel nice about their habbits and mostly run on routine.Other people are almost pathologically beset by moments of conscience, in consciously assesing the matchup between their stated beliefs and their actions. And in my experience, they either become part time philosophers, religious, or get very neurotic and indecisive.

For a lot of other people, either their beliefs and their actions match up, or they just don't care enough about the gap to do anything about it. Even in the last situation, people will be confronted by stuff, frequently in fiction aiming in an "artistic statement" direction, that destabalises that gap for a bit, and you go "crap, what the hell am I doing? I need to rework this thing I do" or "this makes me feel unsteady and confused, I feel the need to talk about my beliefs".

The other big way I see this happen is when people are forced to make choices that their habits don't apply to, and as other people won't give them advice, they have to pull something out of the bag from their beliefs, only to find they don't really match up.

As you can see, reading between the lines, I think narrativist RPGs are bloody good for poking at the gap between belief and behaviour, I'd hate to see a de-emphasis of belief by designers mess that up.


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