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Rationality Quotes January 2013

Most things that we and the people around us do constantly... have come to seem so natural and inevitable that merely to pose the question, 'Why are we doing this?' can strike us as perplexing - and also, perhaps, a little unsettling. On general principle, it is a good idea to challenge ourselves in this way about anything we have come to take for granted; the more habitual, the more valuable this line of inquiry.

-Alfie Kohn, "Punished By Rewards"

Belief as Attire

Can we truly choose to be irrational, though? Recognizing the irrationality of a belief, and valuing reason, the most we can do is act as if we hold others' irrational beliefs. I'm sure there are many people who have done this throughout time; the tragedy is that each of these people may have "come out" as nonbelievers if they were aware of the others' presence.

While I personally think that a person compromises his integrity when he acts contrary to his beliefs, there are certainly many instances in which this course of action has survival value, and so can be said to be rational.