Intellectual Autobiographies – Tracing Someone’s Belief System

I’d love to see a book that is full of first-person essays by folks who discuss how their worldview has evolved over their lifetime.

Here’s an example: Bryan Kaplan’s intellectual autobiography. It starts, predictably, with Ayn Rand, and then meanders from there. It’s interesting to study the maturity of somebody’s beliefs.

The intellectual autobiographies needn’t just trace philosophy or economic beliefs. I’d be interested in what fundamental life assumptions have changed for your basic successful CEO. "What I used to believe" followed by "What I now believe" headers.

Of course this book idea is premised on a hope that people’s worldviews do change over their lifetime — and in some circles, like successful executives or academics, I think this happens because it’s part of what makes them successful.

The best thing that can come out of a book like this — if it illustrates what I expect it would which is that the process of belief-formation is long and ever-continuous — is the message that it’s OK to change your mind.

Anyone want to get started? Leave a comment with "What I used to believe" followed by "What I now believe".

6 comments on “Intellectual Autobiographies – Tracing Someone’s Belief System
  • I Used to believe that money bring happiness, now I believe that money is only a tool to make things to happen betterquickly.

  • I used to believe:
    – I would live forever in a place called heaven and many of my friends who were not Christians would burn in hell.

    I now believe:
    – My life is very likely limited to this earth, but there is a chance that something else exists. If that something else is actually what I used to believe in, I, along with many of the greatest people on this earth, will be the ones burning in hell.

    I posted a few more on my blog:

  • In high school, I believed that an evil spirit was trying to possess me.

    Last year, I learned about Dissociative Identity Disorder and now I believe that that was what I had (my doctor agrees). It was so freeing to finally understand that period in my life.

    Knowledge can definitely change beliefs.

  • What I used to believe:

    Well I started reading Freud in high school and then bent into Jung. It was all depth psychology for me, while studying art, until sometime after college when I started getting into politics.. which involved reading a lot of.. well like Howard Zinn and Cornel West, but also Henry Kissinger and whatever interesting writers turned up on C-Span.. and somehow I drifted into social media.

    The thing is.. well on one level you have the evolution of the intellectual beliefs.. but to what extent are one’s intellectual beliefs determined by reason… or the cash / use value of the belief, or psychological value, or whatever.. It seems like what you believe at any given moment in your life effects who you are at that moment.. which builds the foundation for who we will be in future moments… So that looking into your psychology… our minds, our process, our whatever.. it is in some ways like looking at the rings of a tree.. where you might be able to say something about rain fall that year or.. whatever.

    I’m trying to do a podcast where in you would get this kind of recording of moments.. done in a way where the microphone, at least according to certain antique beliefs about psychoanalysis, is like a stand in for Freud.. so that we might pear in deeply to the psyche’s of the participants… maybe get a feel for the rings.. with the hope that over time we can see the actual evolution..

    Which is not too dissimilar of an idea..

    I suppose we could supper impose all of this onto some sort of conception of psychological development.. what goes on in the various stages of our development..

    When I was in high school I read Kinsey, and Masters and Johnsons.. sex research stuff, along with listening to Ozzy Osbourne and Frank Zappa.. and read a little bit about the occult and… what a strange picture.. at the time my feeling was that the most important thing for me was to overcome the roll prejiduces played in my thinking.. So in a sense Ozzy played a roll in my existential relationship to socialization.. which is to say that a belief in.. lets say rock n roll.. was about how you relate to authority which is key to individuation which is a chief issue of that age period..

    Today I struggle with to what extent are my beliefs are overly idealistic versus pragmatic.. and should I maybe change what beliefs I cling to depending on what sort of course I want to set for the rest of my life.. How does one reconcile one’s ethics with one’s day to day lives.. how does one wrestle with there own dark side.. stuff like that.

    interesting stuff anyway

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