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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Human-Beings - Their Beliefs and the Humanities.: A Change of Orientation

JC Kok.

Human scientists need to familiarize themselves with people’s beliefs to render a significant service to the public. In the last 10 years it has become increasingly clear that people are what they are and do what they do on account of what they believe in relation to themselves, others, the world, their situation, the past and the future. Psychology as we know and practice it today could disappear in this age. Humanities that do not accept that what people believe is the origin of their behaviour, will become increasingly irrelevant. If Education and Psychology want to remain valued disciplines, they will have to make significant changes. If this does not happen, they will become so obsolete that the services they are rendering today will in future be delivered by philosophers, theologians, anthropologists or a combination of such experts, or even by experts who do not yet exit and therefore do not have names yet.

A definition of beliefs: All I accept as the truth and as valuable to the extent that I risk it to behave accordingly. There are many things I accept as the truth, but they do not influence my behaviour. That is knowledge or information only. Knowledge and information do not guarantee behaviour or behavioural changes. They are necessary to influence behaviour, but it only happens when you accept the knowledge or information as the truth for yourself. If knowledge or information is not accepted as truth, it will not change behaviour accordingly, or there are other more valued truths you cannot or will not forgo. The extent to which you change your behaviour is evidence of the extent to which you accept the knowledge or information as the truth for you. This is another reason why we differ so much from one another.


JC Kok  (South Africa)
Professor of Education
Dept. of Educational Sciences
Rand Afrikaans University

Professor of Psychology and Sociology of Education. Ex-dean Fac. Of Education and Nursing. Chair of the Education Association of SA. Regional co-ordinator for the International Alliance for Invitational Education. Author/Co-author of 104 articles and 9 books

  • Human-Beings
  • Beliefs
  • Humanities
  • Behaviour
  • Change

(30 min Conference Paper, English)