Why Sane People Believe Crazy Things: How Belief Can Help or Hurt Social Peace

Why Sane People Believe Crazy Things: How Belief Can Help or Hurt Social Peace

by N.S. Palmer

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Overview

Beliefs can unite us or divide us, build societies or destroy them. Which will it be? That's the stark choice we now face.

Why Sane People Believe Crazy Things helps harness the power of beliefs by explaining what they are. What they do. How they work. Why "everyone except us" seems to have gone insane. And how we can bridge the chasm of misunderstanding and mistrust.

This book shows the connections between biology, belief, truth and meaning. It shows why many supposedly conflicting beliefs don't really conflict at all. It shows how to turn human weaknesses into strengths, so that our beliefs help us to create strong, rational, and compassionate societies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780692151556
Publisher: Consilience Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 10/15/2018
Pages: 310
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.65(d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: How to Explain Anything

* Explanations solve mysteries

* Explanations provide understanding

* Explanations are stories with purposes

* Telling a story about belief

* How to know if a story is true

Chapter 2: What Belief Isn’t

* Two historical mistakes about belief

* Theories of belief

* Beliefs are not mental states

* Beliefs are not dispositions

* Beliefs are not brain events

Chapter 3: What Belief Is

* Beliefs do many things

* Examples of belief give us clues

* Belief isn’t what we thought

* Belief is behavior

* We hold beliefs in three basic ways

Chapter 4: Why Saadia and Maimonides Couldn’t Believe -- But Did

* How Medieval Islam challenged Judaism and Christianity

* Can you believe the unbelievable?

* Groucho Marx in Babylonia

* Saadia defends belief

* Maimonides insists on beliefs you can’t believe

Chapter 5: Why Spinoza Could Believe -- But Didn’t

* Spinoza’s religious motivation

* Spinoza’s concept of belief

* Spinoza’s concept of God

* God in idea and belief

* What Spinoza believed

Chapter 6: Why Mendelssohn Changed the Subject

* The Socrates of Berlin

* The Lavater affair

* Mendelssohn’s concept of belief

* Mendelssohn’s “search for light and right”

* Mendelssohn’s key conflict

Chapter 7: Belief and Biology

* Biblical Biology 101

* From creation to evolution

* The problem of altruism

* Emotion as calculation

* The neuroscience of practice

Chapter 8: What Beliefs Do

* Beliefs satisfy psychological needs

* Beliefs provide factual guidance

* Beliefs provide moral guidance

* Beliefs indicate membership

* Beliefs express and encourage loyalty

Chapter 9: What Justifies Belief

* Conventional wisdom about justification

* Backward and forward

* It’s complicated

* Misapplying justification

* Is factual truth intrinsically good?

Chapter 10: Belief in the Braino Machine

* Plato’s cave prisoners see shadows

* Descartes thwarts his evil demon

* Reid’s common sense strikes back

* Putnam puts brains in a vat

* Meaning and truth cast their shadows

Chapter 11: How Beliefs Have Meaning

* Meaning starts with connection

* Defining meaning

* Meaning for groups

* How "unbelievable" beliefs have meaning

* How mixed-domain beliefs are meaningful

Chapter 12: How the Ineffable Leads to Religion

* Our unavoidable leap of faith

* What makes associations true or false

* How we leap into religion

* How Judaism made the leap

* How Christianity made the leap

Chapter 13: How Description Shapes Truth

* How descriptions shape truth

* What is a foundational description?

* The main theories of truth

* How we test for truth

* What is truth?

Chapter 14: Does It Make Any Difference What We Believe?

* Postmodernism

* Knowledge approaches absolute truth

* Situations and purposes with “one truth”

* Four seductive fallacies

* When argument can work

Chapter 15: Why Be Tolerant?

* What is tolerance?

* Tolerance recognizes self-interest

* Tolerance recognizes reasons for difference

* Tolerance recognizes our limitations

* Tolerance recognizes dignity of all people

Chapter 16: Building Tolerant Societies

* Choose the achievable imperfect

* Make Tolerance Easier

* Mitigate kin selection hostilities

* Use the power of beliefs

* It all begins with you ...

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