Joined: Jan 2008 Posts: 5601 Location: Berryville, Virginia
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Sorry, I like to begin at the beginning. I'd just like to record my thoughts about his announced topics and see how he answers my questions and doubts in rest of the book.
1. He wants to claim that certainty, at all levels, from simple perceptions and memories to opinions about complex issues, has a "involuntary neurological roots" (xii). Is certainty at the complex level really that influenced by the unconscious? Why can't it be consciously chosen or strongly socially influenced?
2. Is certainty always a "problem" (ix) ? We speak approvingly of people who have the courage of their convictions, who act on those convictions.
3. When we study some matter, weigh the evidence, and make a decision, are we usually "convinced that there is no other reasonable answer (ix)? This does not seem to be true for me, and I can't think I am that unusual. So is that statement something of a straw man?
4. A patient with schizophrenia may make "wildly implausible" statements but swear to their truth. Most of us, I think, are not going to display this fanatical certainty about about our beliefs. Isn't this important, since Burton's topic is certainty?
5. Is he going to tell us about all the non-biological factors that can cause us to make declarations of certainty? How do we form biases?
It already sounds like it will be a very interesting book.
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