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The semantics of "rationality" and "living"

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Arkanin
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I am becoming suspicious that there is either some equivocation in the way Objectivists define rationality, or that the position that humans ought to behave entirely rationally does not always benefit the goal of living. I've made some effort to document the premises, arguments, counterarguments, and so on discussed for clarity.

Let me explain: beliefs which are fact-based and grounded in reality are always treated as rational, while those not are irrtational (1). Behaviors which benefit living one's life are also always treated as rational (2). These statements cannot comport unless one believes that humans are always capable of behaving in a way which best supports their life when they apply a rational mind to the best information they have access to (1, 2, implicit).

This final statement would imply that people are most lively when rational, but at face value, this would defy modern neuroscience. Our conscious mind is quite good at dealing with easily dissected logical problems: for example, parsing how a microchip works or deciding not to stand in front of a bus. On the other hand, unless we are a master at acting, analyzing how to best react in an interpersonal situation will cause us to seem immature, awkward, or insincere (A1).

This can be resolved by saying our rational mind should know to cede its control to the centers of our brain that are not essentially rational to perform in a way that causes the most rational, life-embracing results. However, in the case of ceding our rationality to embrace a false belief that will improve our emotional state and cause us to be more successful, we have implicitly rejected (1). An Objectivist could respond (let's call this counterargument C1) that (1) need not be rejected because this cannot happen, but it is easy to show easily conceivable situations where this could emerge in the real world (Let's call this R1, response to counterargument 1).

This leads us to another solution: we can try to escape all of this by accepting a third premise: life is living rationally. The premises would become as follows:

1.) Beliefs which are grounded in rational are always rational to be held.

2.) Behaviors which benefit living are always rational.

(1, 2, implicit) Humans are always capable of behaving in a way which best supports their life when they apply a rational mind to the best information they have access to.

3.) Living is merely being rational, and not-living is merely non-rational.

At this point in time, we can mean one of three things:

A.) Rationality, really, is just doing what gives us the best life, as we objectively quantify living fully.

(This necessitates implicit rejection of (1) via A1; see C1 and R1).

B.) We have decided to see living as being rational.

C.) We are equivocating by equating life and rationality, but later treating them as if they have entirely different meanings. This seems to go on often.

B.) is an interesting if somewhat arbitrary position, but it represents a misleading contortion of the concept of "living". Because we could easily demonstrate situations in which said 'thinking rationally' leads to behaviors that are not conducive to fullest self-benefit (A1), said individuals might be capable of "living fully" in a way which causes them to have unhappy lives, lives with no reproductive success, or so on. Living is reduced to a state of "thinking rationally and acting on those thoughts", even when said rationality is demonstrably not always the best tool for ends we could quantify as meaningful biological success.

Awaiting your responses,

Ark

Edited by Arkanin
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"Rational" is the adjective referring to man's epistemological nature (i.e. a volitional being with a conceptual consciousness, an aspect of which allows man to draw conclusions from perception of existence). Period. Behaviors which benefit life are treated as rational only if you have made the fundamental choice -- to exist. If you have made the fundamental choice of non-existence, then eating and breathing are irrational.

These statements cannot comport unless one believes that humans are always capable of behaving in a way which best supports their life when they apply a rational mind to the best information they have access to (1, 2, implicit).
Sorry, chap, that doesn't mean anything. The word "comport" means "to act properly". Statements cannot comport, only people can. Therefore I substitute "be true" for what you said, since that is the only thing that I can see that makes sense. Now it seems that you're claiming that Objectivist ethics requires man to act "in the way that best furthers his life regardles of context". But there is no such standard. If a person would be better of by flapping his arms and flying around the moon, a person is not irrational if they do not flap their arms and fly around the moon -- because it is not possible. So man is always capable (modulo irrationality, i.e. the refusal to act to his benefit) of doing what is possible to advance his life.
This final statement would imply that people are most lively when rational, but at face value, this would defy modern neuroscience.
The ability of man to do with benefits him does not at all imply that he must therefore be bubbly and effervescent (I can't imagine how you would think that is does).

I don't understand the point you're trying to make about modern neuroscience, especially since you have not mentioned any facts of neurology, science or anything modern that I could relate this to. Please don't take offense, but that just sounds like psychobabble. Give us some facts to deal with, and forget these wierd theories of nothing.

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