In this, the final Maps of Meaning lecture for 2017, I review the year and its offerings: What is a belief system? Why are people so inclined to engage in conflict to protect their belief systems?
It's partly because our belief systems are not only systems of belief, but structures that serve to render everyone who participates in that belief and its dramatization and acting out in the world predictable, trustworthy and cooperative (even when competing).
Is there a hierarchy of rank or value among belief systems, or are they merely arbitrary?
What is the relationship between descriptions of the objective world and moral guidelines? How do you determine how to conduct yourself in the world? What should you do (and is that question even genuine -- or answerable?)
What inbuilt structures do you bring into the world, as a consequence of biological evolution, that help you orient yourself in life, in the face of its overwhelming complexity? What is the relationship between the games that children learn to play when becoming socialized and the cultural structures that guide us in broader society? How is all this related to the underlying symbolic structures (religious structures) that sit at the base of our societies and belief structures?
This course is based on the book Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. Maps of Meaning lays bare the grammar of mythology, and describes the relevance of that grammar for interpretation of narrative and religion, comprehension of ideological identification, and understanding of the role that individual choice plays in the maintenance, transformation and destiny of social systems.