This paper examines two commonly held and conflicting cognitions in the modern world, each based on a belief vital to the individual's sense of self, both maintained in what is here considered as a chronic state of dissonance. This psychological inconsistency consists of an inherent practical belief in the goodness of empirical knowledge and a culturally-developed transcendent belief denying, or at least mitigating, empirical evidence about the finite nature of individual life and affirming a counter-empirical belief in supernatural: supra-cause-and-effect forces that influence life. I argue that since both beliefs are highly resistant to change, they lead to an impasse that individuals in diverse cultures have borne and been motivated to maintain. They have borne it, as I hope to show, because the consonant “cure” has proved to be more discomforting than the dissonant condition.
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DOI 10.1111/1468-5914.00151
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