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Do culture and individual beliefs affect logical thinking?

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Knowledge, our most precious asset, is the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning. Knowledge in short is knowledge about reality; its base is perception and method reason. Hence, reason plays a key role being the method. It is an analytic tool for understanding what we perceive and thus contributing to our knowledge. The issue of correct and coherent reasoning is important because it is a way of finding the truth. Reasoning in true sense is guided on the basis of logic. Logic in fact is a system of reasoning. In order to reason out about things, we apply logical thinking to it. Logic is defined as a way of thinking or explaining something on the terms of validity. Logic therefore deals with only the validity of reason and not the truth. It provides the anatomy (analysis) of thought. However, the reasoning of thought is more affected by emotions which are strongly governed by culture and individual beliefs. As defined by Albert Hubbard,

Reason: The arithmetic of the emotions.

Hence, from this it follows that logical thinking affected by a person’s beliefs and culture.

Culture has the greatest influence on an individual’s thinking. The cause for this is it is inherited by an individual from his surroundings and nurturing he received from his childhood. No matter what he does his culture will always be reflected in his ways of doing things and thinking. For e.g., if the background an individual is brought up strongly believes in religion, the individual will grow up having strong faith in God. They would relate most of the things in their lives to God.

We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them.

~Oliver Wendell Holmes

A few years back in India, on a God’s feast day a very strange thing happened. A devotee while offering milk to God happened to keep the bowl of milk close to the mouth of the idol of God. The idol was of metal and hundreds of years old. As soon as milk was brought close to the mouth, the idol of God immediately drank some milk. The news spread like wildfire throughout the country that “The God is drinking milk.” All people came out of their houses to offer milk to God and observed the same thing happening to their bowl of milk. The scientific reason for this is that if metal is kept for a long time dry it will immediately take in any liquid brought in contact with its surface. Almost 89 % of the Indians (as in the news) did not believe in this.

For them it was a miracle and they firmly believed that it was God who actually came down to the earth on his feast day to accept their offerings. Here on evaluating reasons for peoples’ strong believe in God is that Indian society is strongly religious. Indians have many different castes and there are almost two hundred crores of Gods’s that they worship. Thus, culture does affect the logical thinking of an individual. Also, the other reason that may have affected people to think in this way is their deep faith and belief in God. The people that count up to the number of offering milk to God included doctors, engineers, managers and many other well educated people who do believe in the scientific reasoning for this incident. But, still the important thing is that they offered milk to God under the notion that God was actually accepting it.

“I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t and die to find out there is.”

– Albert Camus.

Believing in something provides a sense of security in believing something. The people in the above case denied the scientific logic because they think by worshiping their tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts. Believing in God is almost next to the accepting in the affirmations of soul while not believing is simply denying them. Therefore, not believing is in no case logical for a god fearing person. The more stronger emotion that implies here is the faith in God.

Belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses; it is an idea that possesses the mind. Every man prefers belief over judgement. It is so because each one needs something to believe in, something for which one can have whole-hearted enthusiasm. One needs to feel that one’s life has meaning, that one is needed in this world. This follows from ‘Better be without logic than without feeling. The fact that logic cannot satisfy us awakens the insatiable hunger for the irrational. This is another reason why belief and culture affect logical thinking and the conclusions we reach. The devastation of the twin towers is really one of the vast tragedies and leaves no sympathy for the culprits. But, George Bush injustice on the inhabitants of giving them freedom is actually an act of revenge. Logically, he is quite right as it is ‘Tit for Tat.’ But, it is by no means ethical as the innocent are bearing the consequence. We all know this because we believe that punishing the innocent is wrong. But there is the fallacy in this ‘we’ as many people would support or even praise George Bush’s action. These people may believe in revenge or probably may be among the one’s that lost some of their loved one’s during the devastation. Hence, the conclusion here affects the logical thinking.

Recently a Pakistani heroine was exiled from Pakistan because she had performed some obscene roles in Bollywood movies. The obscene roles did not exceed smooching and little bit of flesh exposure which is quite common now on media. However, it is against Pakistan’s culture. Again, logically there is nothing wrong but the cultural beliefs of the Pakistan’s affected their logical thinking resulting in such a harsh punishment. Hence, to conclude logic being a mode of reasoning is inevitably affected by culture and individual beliefs because they are the paradigm in which the mind functions and also the belief of believing in one’s convictions gives the security of believing in something thereby adding meaning to life.

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