Our Bias Toward Shared Beliefs

Seneca, Moral Epistles 117.6-7

“We are accustomed to lean toward the assumptions of all people and treat as proof of truth that something seems likely to everyone. So, among other things, we gather that there are gods, that there is some opinion about gods implanted in us, that there is no nation anywhere so alien to law and custom that they don’t believe in gods.

When we talk about the immortality of our souls, the beliefs of people who worship or fear the underworld gods has no minor impact on us. I make use of public persuasion: you will find know one who doesn’t think that wisdom–and being wise–are good. I won’t act the way that defeated fighters do and beg the people for pardon: let’s start to fight with our own weapons.”

Multum dare solemus praesumptioni omnium hominum, et apud nos veritatis argumentum est aliquid omnibus videri. Tamquam deos esse inter alia hoc colligimus, quod omnibus insita de dis opinio est nec ulla gens usquam est adeo extra leges moresque proiecta, ut non aliquos deos credat.

Cum de animarum aeternitate disserimus, non leve momentum apud nos habet consensus hominum aut timentium inferos aut colentium. Utor hac publica persuasione: neminem invenies, qui non putet et sapientiam bonum et sapere. Non faciam, quod victi solent, ut provocem ad populum; nostris incipiamus armis confligere.

An image generated by DALL•E of an ancient mosaic of comic masks. There are three masks. The left and right are partially cut off. The background is red. The masks have pale skin, wide-open mouths, big noses, and piercing eyes.

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