On Unreasonable Beliefs

“Well, I can’t prove it,” Mrs. Bowman said after Mr. Bates had grilled her for a bit, “but that’s what I believe.”

“If you don’t know why you believe it,” Mr. Bates answered, “then you’re just being unreasonable.”

Here Mr. Magundi stepped in. “All our most deeply and sincerely held beliefs are unreasonable, in the sense of being inaccessible to reason. There is nothing wrong or even regrettable in that: all ethics must begin with certain postulates that cannot be demonstrated. It’s wrong to kill an innocent man, you say. If I demand that you prove it, what will you tell me? You may be very clever; you may be able to prove conclusively that without such a principle the human race would certainly be extinct; and yet I could still ask how you knew that the extinction of the human race would be a bad thing. Nothing in science proves that the human race must continue. The most we can say is that we really, really want it to continue—which is an unreasonable belief, but not a bad one.”


One thought on “On Unreasonable Beliefs

  1. I started subscribing to the Mr Magundi feed when I saw it referenced on Dr Boli – I must say I really have enjoyed it very much!

    I wonder if Mrs Magundi might one day start her own blog – I would get my wife to read it 🙂


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