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StrictlyLogical

Rational vs Irrational & Nonrational freedom...

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A.  Concepts "Rational" and "Irrational", what is the domain of their proper application?

Are they strictly applicable to a process of thought?  Generally to the thoughts themselves (not the process)?  Are choices irrational or rational or are they only based on reasons which are rational or irrational?  Can actions be characterized as rational or irrational?  A combination of the above?

 

B.  The concept "arational" or "nonrational" valid?  Is there a territory between rational and irrational ? (i.e. is it required that something be contrary to rationality to qualify as irrational or merely absent rationality, is there a distinction between that which contradicts rational thought and that which is merely absent of it?)

 

C.  The arational or nonational within the bounds of the rational.  If "rational" is applied to broadly to more than a thought process, e.g. a rational action, then in the space of all action, there are acts which when informed by rationality are rational.  Within the limits of rationality there are arbitrary choices which can be made... the aspect within the rational which is arational or nonrational ... is it irrational or simply nonrational/arational?  e.g. drinking milk may be an eminently rational action (in context), doing so while also adding perfectly harmless food coloring, or specifically drinking it from a particularly odd looking glass do not make the overall action irrational but exhibit a nonrational whim within rational actions... i.e. the act itself of "adding food coloring" or "using a weird glass" are not in themselves rational but are within the rational action to drink milk... what do we call this space of action/choice?  or Should we sweep the question aside by technically restricting rational/ irrational distinction to the process of thought?

 

D.  Would attempting to categorize everything as rational or irrational reveal a sort of error of conceptualization and a psychosis or obsession?

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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A.) Isn't thought an action, or are mental actions to be differentiated from the physical actions that the mental actions are at the root of?

B.) Isn't the alternative to rational thought evasion?

C.) See "A.)"

D.) The crow sets a limit to everything. Within the scope of that limit, can it be considered a psychosis or obsession? I'm going to venture a yes with the caveat that it can curtail the very benefit that being rational is charged with delivering.

 

About the topic title, can you expound on the ellipses, or are you counting on implicit import to color any responses?

 

Edited by dream_weaver

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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

A.) Isn't thought an action, or are mental actions to be differentiated from the physical actions that the mental actions are at the root of?

B.) Isn't the alternative to rational thought evasion?

C.) See "A.)"

D.) The crow sets a limit to everything. Within the scope of that limit, can it be considered a psychosis or obsession? I'm going to venture a yes with the caveat that it can curtail the very benefit that being rational is charged with delivering.

 

About the topic title, can you expound on the ellipses, or are you counting on implicit import to color any responses?

 

Ellipses were meant to convey its open to discussion agreement or disagreement.

In the day to day context an action which one takes is what one does which generally depends on what one thinks.  I'm thinking act as in act to gain or keep or action as in human action or moral actions.

I would be interested in honest answers rather than more questions.  Particularly to C and D. (I appreciate your answer to d)

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Leaving aside the terms/words, there are two different aspects out there in the world:

  • there's a a conclusion that starts with a set of true premises but ends up with a false conclusion
  • there's a conclusion that starts with some false premise and applies generally correct processes to reach a false conclusion 

So -- simplifying down to just two stereotypes -- our false conclusions can be the result of:

  • some flaw in the process: errors of logic or process
  • some flaw in a significant premise

There are contexts where it is useful to distinguish between these two types, even though delving deeper one might find that the fault premise was itself the result of faulty process.

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Rationality at the "Ayn Rand Lexicon" website.

A. Thought, values ,actions

B.  Yes but not 'within the bounds of the rational' as you put it.  Perception is not rational or irrational, its automatic.  Emotions too, but choosing to indulge in emoting when there is a better alternative can be immoral and irrational.

C.  Choices between narrow alternatives where it is not valuable to spend effort and time to split hairs in reasoning out a 'best choice' are not irrational, and strictly speaking are not arbitrary either.  Arbitrary means disconnected from other knowledge, as in a non sequitor in logical fallacy or a product of hallucination taken at face value.  The judgement that a 'small choice' will not have important consequences is itself an act that connects it to your context of knowledge.

D.  Yes, for sufficiently broad values of 'everything'.  See B.

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7 hours ago, Grames said:

A. Thought, values ,actions

B.  Yes but not 'within the bounds of the rational' as you put it.  Perception is not rational or irrational, its automatic.  Emotions too, but choosing to indulge in emoting when there is a better alternative can be immoral and irrational.

Interesting. Nonrational includes the automatic and emotional.  Moreover, indulging in emoting when there is no necessity to think further (no better alternative) can also be... moral or would you say (in a parallel manner to not being "within bounds" of morality) simply amoral? 

 

7 hours ago, Grames said:

D.  Yes, for sufficiently broad values of 'everything'.  See B.

Nice.

7 hours ago, Grames said:

C.  Choices between narrow alternatives where it is not valuable to spend effort and time to split hairs in reasoning out a 'best choice' are not irrational, and strictly speaking are not arbitrary either.  Arbitrary means disconnected from other knowledge, as in a non sequitor in logical fallacy or a product of hallucination taken at face value.  The judgement that a 'small choice' will not have important consequences is itself an act that connects it to your context of knowledge.

This is interesting, it brings up the issue of an individual's finite resources and finite time.  Spending too much time on a decision can be irrational because it wastes valuable resources which may exceed the value of making the decision in the first place.

I do want to address squarely the issue of the choice between alternatives which are equally rational, for example, where the choice to do Ax versus Bx is based on rationality (Ax drinking milk daily is good versus Bx drinking Mountain Dew and no milk) but the choice between A1 and A2 is not based on any rational reason (A1 is a healthy vanilla flavored milk and A2 is an equally healthy chocolate flavored milk).  If one "feels" like buying vanilla flavor or for a different example drinking from an oddly shaped glass, in the sense that it is solely based on "liking it" the choice to do so is nonrational, but it does not mean the broader action of drinking milk is not rational.

Is there a concept or a term for these nonrational preferences (one could even say subjective preferences) i.e. the freedom within the broader limits set by rationality?

 

As a side issue, (not to be a distraction), in many cases there are a very large number of "best" (based on rationality) "choices" ... which are on perfectly equal standing rationally speaking, a particular SUV might be the best choice based on rationality for your family but the color need not require any rational analysis... in fact given the finite resources of effort and time, a quick "I like that color" emotion IS enough... and the attempt to "deduce" or through induction determine a "perfect" would actually be an irrational exercise.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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13 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

If one "feels" like buying vanilla flavor or for a different example drinking from an oddly shaped glass, in the sense that it is solely based on "liking it" the choice to do so is nonrational, but it does not mean the broader action of drinking milk is not rational.

Reason requires method and input, or logic and data.  I would say that your preference for a certain taste is data, and so choosing a pleasant taste is rational and not irrational or nonrational.  My premise here is that tastes have causes in the chemistry of your body and the thing one tastes and so are metaphysical givens, a fact of your world to be accepted.  The same can apply to an interesting shape, something different can be pleasing because of the novelty of wrapping your brain around something new, that is just an aspect of human nature (or most humans anyway).

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38 minutes ago, Grames said:

Reason requires method and input, or logic and data.  I would say that your preference for a certain taste is data, and so choosing a pleasant taste is rational and not irrational or nonrational.  My premise here is that tastes have causes in the chemistry of your body and the thing one tastes and so are metaphysical givens, a fact of your world to be accepted.  The same can apply to an interesting shape, something different can be pleasing because of the novelty of wrapping your brain around something new, that is just an aspect of human nature (or most humans anyway).

This actually ties in with my position that pleasure actually is instrumental, and that making a narrow choice (all else being equal) based on pleasure (even when purely subjective) is rational and moral.

Thank you for your insights.  Much to chew on.

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2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

This is interesting, it brings up the issue of an individual's finite resources and finite time.  Spending too much time on a decision can be irrational because it wastes valuable resources which may exceed the value of making the decision in the first place.

This is a very important point (and well stated).  Too often in philosophical discussions "choice" or "making decisions" is limited to analyzing a single decision when, in fact, we make tens of thousands of decisions each and every day.  This fact illustrates the importance of "automation" of learned behaviors.  At one point, they require attention, but over time they become automated.  Even something as simple as getting off the sofa, walking into the kitchen while avoiding furniture in your path, opening the refrigerator, reaching in, picking up the milk carton (left or right hand?), closing the door, getting a glass out of the cupboard, pouring the milk, adding vanilla, etc., etc., etc., required the making of many many "decisions" - most of which are automated - but at one time had to be learned consciously.

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

This actually ties in with my position that pleasure actually is instrumental, and that making a narrow choice (all else being equal) based on pleasure (even when purely subjective) is rational and moral.

There is a wonderfully written book (highly cited and influential in cognitive science) by the neurologist Antonio Damasio titled Descartes' Error which explains the neurological basis and role of emotions in decision making.  They are not just something added onto thought, or a legacy of more primitive evolutionary thinking, but rather play the role of "filters" (somatic markers) in making decisions when many alternative solutions are possible.  They are learned along with the anatomical behaviors and stored in memory for future reference.

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2 hours ago, New Buddha said:

the anatomical behaviors

What is that?  Heartbeat and breathing are anatomical behaviors, but are they learned?

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3 hours ago, Grames said:

What is that?  Heartbeat and breathing are anatomical behaviors, but are they learned?

By "anatomical behaviours" I mean such things as riding a bike, shooting a basketball, climbing stairs, etc.   These are learned behaviours that become automated, and once automated require little in the way of conscious, deliberative attention to execute.  This, by the way, is true too for speaking and listening and reading and writing - all of which are at their root, anatomical learned behaviours.

Edited by New Buddha

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"As a side issue, (not to be a distraction), in many cases there are a very large number of "best" (based on rationality) "choices" ... which are on perfectly equal standing rationally speaking, a particular SUV might be the best choice based on rationality for your family but the color need not require any rational analysis..."

I suspect that the reason you say that some choice can be equally rational is related to how a feeling can originate from a non-rational mental state, or did not involve interpretation. I agree with Grames that something like color preference can be the basis for a rational distinction due to their nature as information. Further, they aren't emotions anyway, so it's more like perception or near the level of perception - you can't like purple more than green by interpretation or evaluation. On the other hand, colors often have psychological connotations, but that's not too much different than getting scared when you see a spider. There's a difference between getting a "feeling" when you see a color, and what you think about when you see a color.

That "feeling" leads to absolutely correct answers for yourself as related to what makes you physically and psychology different than another person. To make that clearer: while sometimes there is no answer to "what color SUV should I pick?" for people as a whole, that doesn't mean all answers are equally as rational.

A. Anything the result of deliberate thought can be rational or irrational. Resulting thoughts that employ epistemic principles is rational. Anything else is non-rational.

B. Only when/ if rational thought could not be used somewhere in the process we're referring to.

D. I don't make a big deal about it personally, I just use epistemic principles. So, choices I make are all rational by that standard. But, of course, sometimes I learn a principle was not any good and I stop using it. An issue comes up if a person obsesses on a past error, when that action looks irrational only in retrospect.

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On 5/17/2017 at 4:03 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

A.  Concepts "Rational" and "Irrational", what is the domain of their proper application?

The way I understand it, when Rand called something "moral" she also meant "rational", which probably has something to do with her special emphasis on the idea that egoism (or "rational self-interest") is the only logical and scientific "morality of reason".

 

Any choice is "rational" if you choose it out of a rationally-justified belief that its consequences will better serve your own rationally-prioritized values than any of the alternatives you don't choose.

If your belief in its good consequences is based on the positions of the stars, your choice is irrational. If you choose the consequences of a cool new toy over food or shelter, your choice is irrational. When you've chosen the best because you've taken the time to figure it out and define what actually is the best, your choice is rational.

And what goes for the rationality of choices must also go for things like actions, words or habits, which are the products of our choices: they are exactly as rational or irrational as that which caused them.

 

However, notice that whether a choice is rational or irrational depends on why it was chosen, and has no meaning outside of that context. It is possible to make the "right" choice for the wrong reasons, in which case the choice is still wrong and irrational (which ties into why we don't want anyone's blind obedience and why, when offered the position of "economic dictator", John Galt laughed out loud at the one who'd offered it).

 

On 5/17/2017 at 4:03 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

B.  The concept "arational" or "nonrational" valid?  Is there a territory between rational and irrational ? (i.e. is it required that something be contrary to rationality to qualify as irrational or merely absent rationality, is there a distinction between that which contradicts rational thought and that which is merely absent of it?)

Sure. "Reason" is a method of choosing one thing out of many possibilities, even in its primary sense (choosing what to believe); where only one answer is possible, reason doesn't apply.

 

Your own, direct perception of reality itself is self-evident, inescapable and arational; so is your sense of life, your taste in art and your favorite flavor of ice cream. They're the axiomatic starting points which we then reason from.

 

On 5/17/2017 at 4:03 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

C.  Within the limits of rationality there are arbitrary choices which can be made... the aspect within the rational which is arational or nonrational ... is it irrational or simply nonrational/arational?  e.g. drinking milk may be an eminently rational action (in context), doing so while also adding perfectly harmless food coloring, or specifically drinking it from a particularly odd looking glass do not make the overall action irrational but exhibit a nonrational whim within rational actions... i.e. the act itself of "adding food coloring" or "using a weird glass" are not in themselves rational but are within the rational action to drink milk... what do we call this space of action/choice?

Where there are multiple functionally-equivalent options, the consequences of which are all indistinguishable from one another, reason doesn't apply.

 

On 5/17/2017 at 4:03 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

D.  Would attempting to categorize everything as rational or irrational reveal a sort of error of conceptualization and a psychosis or obsession?

Only if it stops you from actually going out and pursuing your values. As long as you can keep doing things and making choices (some of which may turn out to be irrational, in retrospect - that doesn't make you Hitler); as long as it doesn't paralyze you, that's a very good habit to cultivate.

I don't think it's even wrong to question the self-evidency of your own perceptions and preferences (you never know which questions might uncover some subconscious, automated error) - provided you know when to stop and move on with whatever knowledge you happen to have.

 

If it ever does turn paralytic then stop analyzing things for a while, do something you enjoy (simply because you enjoy it) and return to your inquiries once you've cleared your head.

 

stimulating.gif.9367bd397341f6fe5f8a234ba7919093.gif

 

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
I required a saucy music video ;)

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My understanding is that Objectivism holds that the choice to live is pre-rational. In other words, life versus death is the fundamental alternative, so there can't be a more fundamental reason for choosing it beyond the fact that you want to stay alive. That's the closest thing to a non-rational choice that I'm aware of within Objectivism.

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