Compare and Contrast: Belief Systems
The question that literature brings to all readers is what motivates a character to strive to overcome an obstacle. For some, it is to fit in society; still others, it is an individual goal. Whatever it is, it is a silent partner in the person’s makeup that cannot be identified with simple logic. Some define it as an emotion; still others, devotion. That force that makes people get up every morning to perform a great deed is based on their belief. According to University of Alicante: Department of Applied Mathematics. (n.d.), “Every human being has a belief system that they utilize, and it is through this mechanism that we individually, "make sense" of the world around us” (para. 2). Three great characters that are notable in history because of their belief system are discussed in this paper. They are Socrates from the ancient world, Augustine from the classical world, and Sir Gawain from the medieval world. It is not just what they believed, but how it influenced their life and death, and how they made sense of the world around them.
Ancient World: Polytheism
In ancient Greece, there was no greater honor than belonging to a city as a citizen. The honor that the citizen gives to the state means that he or she held their duties, such as worshipping gods and goddesses. Chief among those were the patron god of the city. If a person brought dishonor to his or her city, it meant disaster and possibly losing favor with his or her patron god or goddess. This was held so serious by the ruling class that any citizen can be slayed if they showed dishonor to the gods and goddesses. This was the basis for Socrates, who was accused of being a heretic/atheist. In Plato’s, Apology, it seemed that Socrates realized that he was defending his belief system, which did not conform to what the accusing Greeks believed. He thought the mythologies were lies and that science, reason, and logic offered a better explanation of how the world works. He did not discredit that there were gods and goddesses, but he thought the stories or creation were fallacies foisted on the public.
“For if the demigods are the illegitimate sons of gods, whether by nymphs or by any other mothers, of whom they are said to be the sons—what human being will ever believe that there are no gods if they are sons of gods? You might as well affirm the existence of mules, and deny that of horses and asses. Such nonsense, Meletus, could only have been intended by you to make trial of me” (Damrosch, Alliston, Brown, duBois, Hafez, Heise, et al., 2008, p. 566).
He was forced to die, but not before he questioned his accusers for them to justify their belief, and prove that his was wrong. In the Apology, Socrates proves how baseless the charges are against him. He also proves, in a tongue and cheek way, that he is smarter and wiser than the people that accused him; yet, he would rather die than stop asking questions that the ruling class did not like. A normal...