Thursday, March 13, 2008


Is it possible to truly respect a belief that you completely disagree with? How about a belief that you mostly disagree with?
Subtly different question: Is it possible to respect someone whose beliefs you disagree with? or whose beliefs you do not respect?

I am beginning to think that you cannot fully respect a belief without yourself holding it. If you disagree with a belief, that means you feel that, on some level, it is wrong. Doesn't believing something is wrong entail a loss of respect for it?
Flip side of the same idea: The strongest respect for a belief is actually believing it: thinking that it is true, right, accurate, valid. A lesser form of respect would be understanding the train of thought and frame of mind leading to that belief, and disagreeing with part of it, but seeing how someone could legitimately believe it. Yet another form would be seeing that belief, at the very least, as useful or beautiful. But what it comes down to, is: If you really, truly respect a belief, you almost certainly believe it yourself.

So: What does it mean to respect a belief? and what does it mean to respect a person?

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