Is Belief Involuntary?

Is Belief Involuntary? What I mean is: can we ever truly and FULLY convince ourself that something which we know to be false, is actually true?

I’ve heard some people say that if you get into the habit of lying all the time, you may eventually get to the point were you end up sub-concioussly believing your own lies.

But, is not belief an involuntary action of the mind? I personally feel that it is impossible for me to voluntarily choose to accept that which I percieve as RED to be the same thing as that which I perceive to be BLUE. No matter how hard I try, once I am made aware that a distiction between any two things exists, I can no longer be able to truly convince myself that the two things are identical. I know better.

The only exception to this occurs when we initially accept what is actually untruth, to be a truth (all the while, being unaware that we are mistaken in our belief).

I hope that this makes at least a little sense to someone. I’m having a hard time expressing my thoughts in words. :wink:

one can be conditioned to believe anything…


As with all such epistemological questions what you need is a criterion. In this case a criterion for distinguishing between voluntary and involuntary belief. I asked a different version of this on the free will thread, and no-one even attempted an answer…


It is possible for a person to be conditioned to believe just about anything. However, the “choice” to believe something would imply that a person would undertake such conditioning voluntarily. In order for them to do so, would necessarily require a belief in the value of such belief to begin with!

I like to point out that, while we MAY be able to choose to believe any particular thing from among our options, what we CAN’T control is our perception of the relative value of those things.

For example, I might be able to CHOOSE to condition myself to believe in the Islamic religion. However, what I can’t control is my perception that this would be a poor choice.

Such perceptions of the relative value between our options are built up from, and the natural result of our experiences.