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I am perplexed by Alexander George's recent posting (http://www.askphilosophers.org/question/2854). He says "Your observation that we sometimes take pleasure in beliefs even if they have been irrationally arrived at seems correct but beside the point: it speaks neither to the truth of (1) nor to that of (2)." (2), in this case, is "(2) that actions guided by false beliefs are not likely to get us what we want. " I believe the science of psychology has shown us that we form many beliefs entirely irrationally. The mechanism for their formation is often a defense mechanism. The purpose of their formation is often to hide some truth about ourselves from ourselves - to hide some unpleasant information that we would have gleaned had we formed our belief rationally. I just can't see how the above information is "beside the point". The point is: 1) I want to be happy. 2) My beliefs are formed irrationally in order to reach that desired end. Perhaps what is beside the point is that the belief-forming...

This discussion has (so far) generated more heat than light. Let us all remember a crucial maxim: attack the argument, not the person. (Rationale: the latter is an ad hominem fallacy). Now about the philosophical issue. Perhaps I can first try to clarify what has been said so far (as far as I can tell). The original post argued that philosophers are in an awkward position, since they rely upon their reason, even though human beings are driven by an irrational fear of death. Professor Smith responded by clarifying (a point muddled in the original post) that beliefs are rational or irrational, rather than facts . He also ended his post by noting that we should not rely upon irrational beliefs, because they cannot get us what we really want. Then there was a reply which maintained that irrationally formed beliefs can sometimes get us what we want, provided that we want to be happy, etc. Then there was a back and forth about who is missing the point. In all of this, an...