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Rationality

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chewybrian
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Rationality

Post by chewybrian » November 26th, 2019, 7:43 am

What does it mean to be rational?

How close do most people get? What about you?

What stops people from reaching their highest potential of rationality?

Do people willfully choose to avoid being rational? Why? Do you?

Is there a second level up of rationality? In other words, it's one thing to act using perfect logic upon observations or assumptions or information provided to you. It is another to carefully examine the trustworthiness of these sources and to find new and better ways to analyze your environment.

Is there a third level up? What would that be?

Is it wise to work to become as rational as possible in all cases, or is there any advantage to turning off your rational side? When and how does rational analysis fail? If there is a time to abandon rationality, how do you know when it is upon you?
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Pantagruel
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Re: Rationality

Post by Pantagruel » November 26th, 2019, 11:09 am

Rational is following the rules of reason. So does this mean the rules of reason that predominate in one's current place and time? When the well-known Transcendentalist Margaret Fuller announced "I accept the universe", Carlyle is reported to have said "Gad, she better!"

Presumably 'full rationality' (your 'levels up') includes the awareness that current rational paradigms are limited, approximate, or otherwise subject to enhancement or improvement.

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Felix
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Re: Rationality

Post by Felix » November 26th, 2019, 4:13 pm

Interesting question.... there is the term suprarational, which essentially means to recognizing the limits of reason, and as J. Krishnamurti said, that's a pathless land.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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chewybrian
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Re: Rationality

Post by chewybrian » November 26th, 2019, 9:16 pm

Pantagruel wrote:
November 26th, 2019, 11:09 am
Rational is following the rules of reason. So does this mean the rules of reason that predominate in one's current place and time?
I don't think so. I mostly follow rules laid out in ancient Rome 2000 years ago and don't find them irrational, though they do not predominate here and now.

Were the Chinese rational to expect a landslide victory for the 'silent majority' in recent elections in Hong Kong?

https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/11/25/ho ... s-victory/
...In stark contrast to most observers in Hong Kong, editors—and the officials behind them—appear to have sincerely believed that the establishment parties would win an overwhelming victory. Propaganda is a heady drug, and Beijing got high on its own supply....
I suppose you could say they were rational within the framework of their own time and place. But, their ideas seem beyond wishful to an outsider.
Pantagruel wrote:
November 26th, 2019, 11:09 am
Presumably 'full rationality' (your 'levels up') includes the awareness that current rational paradigms are limited, approximate, or otherwise subject to enhancement or improvement.
Yes. Just acting with logic doesn't mean you fully examined the validity of the underlying assumptions. Then, your brain is fighting you along the way with heuristics and such, trying to take shortcuts to solve the problem at hand so it can move on to some other base desire. The little voice in your head from your childhood may be telling you that you are doomed to fail or some such thing, even if you are scarcely aware of it as it twists your view of reality. There are something like 200 cognitive biases!

Image

(You can see this better at this link):

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/every- ... tive-bias/

For a couple examples, people tend to waste time on projects that should be seen as failing rather than admitting they made a mistake early on. And we often remember things differently than the way they really happened by inserting facts we learned later into our memories; we tend to make pretty unreliable witnesses. Someone with the bias of the illusion of transparency may overestimate the degree to which they know the thoughts of others, and suffer anger issues or other problems as a result.

So, yes, one should be aware of the limits, but also frequently hitting the reboot on their brain and examining again what they think they know. I would say you can work to become more rational, to level up a notch or two, but it does not seem you would ever be fully rational. Oddly, though, I think many people do think they are fully rational. This may be a cognitive bias of naive cynicism on my part, though. In short, I may overestimate the extent of the bias of others. Reading through all of these biases, it is hard to imagine any of us are exempt.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Rationality

Post by chewybrian » November 26th, 2019, 9:22 pm

Felix wrote:
November 26th, 2019, 4:13 pm
Interesting question.... there is the term suprarational, which essentially means to recognizing the limits of reason, and as J. Krishnamurti said, that's a pathless land.
Perhaps there is no clear path, but there may be a lot of footprints. Would this include all religion and transcendental hippie stuff? I thought this part would be hardest or least likely to get a reply. Is there a time when reason fails or something else is better? I don't have an answer but I hoped someone else might.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Rationality

Post by LuckyR » November 27th, 2019, 3:15 am

chewybrian wrote:
November 26th, 2019, 7:43 am
What does it mean to be rational?

How close do most people get? What about you?

What stops people from reaching their highest potential of rationality?

Do people willfully choose to avoid being rational? Why? Do you?

Is there a second level up of rationality? In other words, it's one thing to act using perfect logic upon observations or assumptions or information provided to you. It is another to carefully examine the trustworthiness of these sources and to find new and better ways to analyze your environment.

Is there a third level up? What would that be?

Is it wise to work to become as rational as possible in all cases, or is there any advantage to turning off your rational side? When and how does rational analysis fail? If there is a time to abandon rationality, how do you know when it is upon you?
We all use words differently but to my ear out of all the possible reactions to a situation, the optimal response is the single most logical and efficient. A logical response likely is one of several of the possible ones that make sense. A rational response includes the optimal as well as the logical ones and also likely includes a few illogical ones that pass the test of not being irrational (which is a lower bar).
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Rationality

Post by Felix » November 27th, 2019, 4:28 am

chewybrian: Is there a time when reason fails or something else is better?
I have had intuitions or insights that I could not rationally justify but that turned out to be the needed solution to a problem. Reason requires sufficient data to act but many times we do not and can not have enough evidence to make the right decision.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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chewybrian
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Re: Rationality

Post by chewybrian » November 27th, 2019, 6:36 am

LuckyR wrote:
November 27th, 2019, 3:15 am
We all use words differently but to my ear out of all the possible reactions to a situation, the optimal response is the single most logical and efficient. A logical response likely is one of several of the possible ones that make sense. A rational response includes the optimal as well as the logical ones and also likely includes a few illogical ones that pass the test of not being irrational (which is a lower bar).
Well, as usual, I did not lay out the definition, but rather asked others what they thought it was. I am always interested in seeing how others view things. I am also aware of the 'anchoring' bias. So, I know that if I start with a definition, it will direct the discussion, and I will tend to get answers clustered near the starting point, or polar opposite from my initial assertion (false dichotomy).

I would say to be rational implies the ability to accurately discern the facts from your environment, to accept obvious truths when you are presented with them. It also includes the ability to use logic to know what follows from these facts. You can have the discerning ability without logic, or logic without awareness. So, to me, logical seems to be a notch below rational.

I think you have exposed another cognitive bias that haunts me. I tend to run everything immediately to the far end. Rather than thinking of rationality as a minimum threshold, I tend to think right away of maximum, perfect rationality.

Either way you slice it, I think people generally place too much weight and pride in logic, and undervalue the difficulty and benefit of getting the facts correct first. They end up in some weird places, like Nazi Germany, because they act on the implications of logic based on wrong assumptions. In such a case, something 'suprarational' like religion or a moral code could be a kind of bumper bowling that keeps the ball in the alley until you are awakened to the real facts.

For example, I learned from stoic philosophy to avoid judging the intentions of others until the facts leave no doubt. In the past, I would act based on my judgment of their intentions, which often led to frustration or anger which was wasted energy, and sometimes a lost opportunity to have a productive relationship. If you think fully logical means fully rational, then you may fall into a trap like that and stay in it, because you see your logical reactions as the best you can do.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Rationality

Post by Karpel Tunnel » November 27th, 2019, 8:17 pm

chewybrian wrote:
November 27th, 2019, 6:36 am
I think you have exposed another cognitive bias that haunts me. I tend to run everything immediately to the far end. Rather than thinking of rationality as a minimum threshold, I tend to think right away of maximum, perfect rationality.
I think this is key. I don't think we should assume that being rational means necessarily reacing the right conclusions - in a given instance certainly. One can be rational, reason one's way to a conclusion and be wrong.

To me rationality is a very abstract term that batches together a few different ways of reaching conclusions. It is a batch of approaches with certain processes in them. These can be fallible. We can be fallible. Any rationally arrived at conclusion may turn out later to be incorrect, perhaps even this one.

It is contrasted with intuition. Some people's intuition, about certain things, can be extremely accurate. Some people have terrible intuitions, in general and in specific. It is a different way one may reach a conclusion. The mind does not do the things it does whne it is being rational.

So we are talking about approaches - which actually are complementary - not accuracy.

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Re: Rationality

Post by Karpel Tunnel » November 27th, 2019, 8:19 pm

And I should have added, sometimes it is irrational to use rationality for certain decisions. In many physical immediate threat situations, you don't want to try to calculate the correct trajectory to fling your body to avoid being hit by a bus, for example. You could try to work out the direction rationally, and die before following the body's intuitive immediate choice.

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Re: Rationality

Post by Pantagruel » November 28th, 2019, 6:44 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
November 27th, 2019, 8:19 pm
And I should have added, sometimes it is irrational to use rationality for certain decisions. In many physical immediate threat situations, you don't want to try to calculate the correct trajectory to fling your body to avoid being hit by a bus, for example. You could try to work out the direction rationally, and die before following the body's intuitive immediate choice.
You don't think it's rational to jump out of the way?

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Re: Rationality

Post by Sculptor1 » November 28th, 2019, 8:23 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
November 27th, 2019, 8:19 pm
And I should have added, sometimes it is irrational to use rationality for certain decisions. In many physical immediate threat situations, you don't want to try to calculate the correct trajectory to fling your body to avoid being hit by a bus, for example. You could try to work out the direction rationally, and die before following the body's intuitive immediate choice.
The meaning of "decision" here is a moot point. I'm not sure you are deciding what to do. And who is to say that the more automated "decision" which leads the body to avoid a bus is not a rational one? In the example you give you would have to make a bad choice to subvert and interrupt the "automated decision", and that choice would ipos facto be an irrational choice, leading as it does to death or injury - this undermines your position.

Whilst I understand what you are trying to say - I would not be offering it up as a general recommendation to avoid rational decisions. Most cases would allow a moment's reflection and the avoidance of a fear response would be most often better than a knee-jerk fight or flight decision.

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Re: Rationality

Post by Pantagruel » November 28th, 2019, 8:59 am

Rationality has it's foundations in practicality. Heuristics are rational if that is all that is available. However making a snap decision if there is time for reflection is not rational and may not be the most practical approach either. Rationality and knowledge would appear to be intimately connected....

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Re: Rationality

Post by Pattern-chaser » November 28th, 2019, 2:05 pm

Sculptor1 wrote:
November 28th, 2019, 8:23 am
who is to say that the more automated "decision" which leads the body to avoid a bus is not a rational one?
The dictionary - not an authority, but a convenient list of generally-accepted meanings - says that rationality is following the dictates of reason and logic. In this example, neither reason nor logic, nor even considered thought is appropriate. There is only time to react instinctively, not rationally.

chewybrian wrote:
November 26th, 2019, 9:22 pm
Felix wrote:
November 26th, 2019, 4:13 pm
Interesting question.... there is the term suprarational, which essentially means to recognizing the limits of reason, and as J. Krishnamurti said, that's a pathless land.
Perhaps there is no clear path, but there may be a lot of footprints. Would this include all religion and transcendental hippie stuff? I thought this part would be hardest or least likely to get a reply. Is there a time when reason fails or something else is better? I don't have an answer but I hoped someone else might.
This is more the course my thoughts are following. If rationality is following reason and logic, then I judge it incomplete. Not wrong, just incomplete. In my philosophy and philosophising, I follow an exclusively human-oriented course. I can see no point or use in doing otherwise. And I note that, while humans are perfectly capable of rational behaviour (occasionally!), they often behave irrationally, illogically and unreasonably. 😨

I see little point in condemning or lamenting this aspect of our humanity, for such it is. We often behave on the basis of pure emotion, or on a basis that is fully unconscious. We might seek to explain this, or simply to understand it better, but we cannot deny that this behaviour is what is, and not what we think ought to be. To me, acceptance is the only rational (😋) path.

In summary, I see rationality as a valuable contributing factor in our humanity, but incomplete when considered in isolation. "Transcendental hippie stuff" 'R Us! 🙂🙃🙂
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Re: Rationality

Post by Sculptor1 » November 28th, 2019, 3:54 pm

Pattern-chaser wrote:
November 28th, 2019, 2:05 pm
Sculptor1 wrote:
November 28th, 2019, 8:23 am
who is to say that the more automated "decision" which leads the body to avoid a bus is not a rational one?
The dictionary - not an authority, but a convenient list of generally-accepted meanings - says that rationality is following the dictates of reason and logic. In this example, neither reason nor logic, nor even considered thought is appropriate. There is only time to react instinctively, not rationally.
Indeed, but since I was responding to the scenario expressed here; "And I should have added, sometimes it is irrational to use rationality for certain decisions." - the point is not well made since it would not be "rational" in this case to subvert the automated response of the human body. The statement is self defeating.

The next question is how would you know that your unconscious (for that is what we are talking about) is NOT rational, and by what warrant could we know that underneath out conscious mind we do not actually think in rational terms?

We often see to do pretty well in split second decisions. If someone throws you a ball unexpectedly there are some pretty clever "calculations" which enable the hand to close in the ball.

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