Truth in Society

13 September 1994

Prompt #1

In Class This Morning It's easy to settle for superficial and easy (but wrong) explanations for people's beliefs. Part of what we want to do here is to make sure we're not taking the easy way out, that we're being realistic about how people come to believe what they do. One way to make sure we're not fooling ourselves is to test what we're thinking and saying about others against our own experience. So, regularly, we'll be trying to set up ways in which you can explore your own beliefs and how they came to be what they are (and how they have been changed -- and might be changed again).

We'd like to begin that process now. Take five minutes or so to think of something you believe that not everyone you know and respect also believes. Putting it another way, try to think of something that you believe and which someone whose opinion matters to you feels so differently about that you wouldn't discuss it casually. It might be a value, or an idea about how people are and why they act as they do. It might involve society and social behavior, science or the natural world, art or music.

So, take some time to think about some issues like that, and decide on one you'd be interested in exploring.

Now, take a pad of paper and start writing about it. First, state as clearly as you can in a few sentences what you believe about the issue; then talk about your memories of how and why you came to believe it. If you don't actually remember, speculate about what you think might account for the fact that you believe it and other people don't.

Don't worry about whether your writing is "good" or not. What we're looking for here is a kind of writing you may not have done much of before. You should just start, without much thinking or planning, and keep writing until you have at least a couple of pages. You should write without stopping, and without worrying about whether your writing is "grammatical" or spelled and punctuated correctly. Just make sure your handwriting's legible.

We'll allow about a half hour for thinking and writing. When you're finished -- and be sure you've taken enough time to write everything you can -- put your writing in the Inkshed box on the counter. We'll come back to them in the afternoon.

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