Thursday, 31 October 2013

What's Positive about Positive Illusions?

Positive illusions provide a challenge to the once-accepted view that accurate beliefs about oneself and the world are conducive to wellbeing and mental health. Illusions are "beliefs that depart from reality" and they are positive when they involve unrealistic optimism about one's capacities, prospects, or control over the external environment. 

We can find three broad types of positive illusions, following Taylor and Brown (1994): (1) excessively positive self-appraisals; (2) the belief that one has greater control over events than it is actually the case; (3) more rosy views of the future than statistics can warrant. It is important that positive illusions are regarded as mild distortions of reality and do not involve "denying the obvious": most researchers interested in positive illusions are keen to distinguish positive illusions from cases of self-deception or from defence mechanisms. Taylor and Brown have shown not only that positive illusions are widespread in non-clinical populations, but that there are strong links between certain forms of positive illusion and the promotion of mental health (in terms of creativity and productivity), and physical health (in terms of prolonged longevity). 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Art and the Nature of Belief Conference

On 11th and 12th of October the Department of Philosophy at the University of York hosted an international conference on the topic of Art and the Nature of Belief, organised by Helen Bradley and Ema Sullivan-Bissett. The aim of the conference was to bring together philosophers of mind working on belief and its connection to truth with aestheticians working on beliefs gained from artworks.

We thought that there was an opportunity for a significant philosophical interaction between belief theorists and aestheticians which would illuminate the nature of belief for both parties. The interaction was intended to present the belief theorist with pertinent questions regarding the status of beliefs formed as a result of engaging with art and, in turn, encourage aestheticians to further consider the relations between art, belief, and truth.