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Wow.... I'm surprised and glad. Thanks for being open to criticism.

That's what we've been saying. Not all of a person's thoughts are rational. And I certainly don't assert someone can easily think themselves out of being depressed or anxious.

My point there wasn't that people's thoughts aren't all rational, though I agree with that. My point was that not all human actions are tied to thoughts or intentions. There are habits, twitches, there is emotional momentum driving people to do things they'd never dream of and may regret for the rest of their lives. People often don't think in the first place.

Once that is established, what further insight is contained in the assertion that rationality itself is socially constructed?

I think that, when one's goal is to improve and spread rationality, a elementary questions should be: When, and under which circumstances does a person think? How does a social situation affect your thinking? So instead of just asking how do we think and how do we improve that? It could also be usefull to ask when do we think and how do we improve that?

At some point in the future we could then inform people of the kind of social environment they might build to help them better formulate and achieve goals. Like people with anger problems being taught to 'stop! And count to ten' other people might be taught to think at certain recognisable critical moments they currently tend to walk past without realising.

You may be right in that the argument comes more from a concern with how a broader public relates to the term of ´rational´ than how it is used in the mentioned disciplines.

On the other hand I feel that the broader public is relevant here. LessWrong isn´t that small a community and I suspect people have quite some emotional attachment to this place, as they use it as a guide to alter their thinking. By calling all things that are usefull in this way 'rational' I think you'd be confusing the term. It could lead to rationality turning into a generic substitute for 'good' or 'decent'. To me, that seems harmfull to an agenda of improving people's rational thinking.

Here I agree almost fully! My problem is that people aren't fully rational beings. That some of the people might want to take lessons on some level but don't can't be attributed only to their thoughts, but to their emotional environment. A persons thoughts need to be mobilised into action for something to take part. Sometimes this is a point of a person needing more basic confidence, sometimes a person needs their thoughts mirrored at them and confirmed. As in, speaking with a friend who'll encourage them. Thinking alone isn't enough.

I admire the community's mission to try and change people. But by the same line of argument I use above I think focusing only on how people think and how they might think better is not going to be enough. I think rationality should also be viewed as a social construct.

I don't think so, since that would be a trivial property that doesn't indicate anything....

I think it would indicate that not every action is being thought over. That some things a person does which lead to the achievement of a goal may not have beent planned for or acknowledged. By calling all things that are usefull in this way 'rational' I think you'd be confusing the term. Making it into a generic substitute for 'good' or 'decent'. To me, that seems harmfull to an agenda of improving people's rational thinking.

.>, for there is no alternative available.

I would like to propose the alternatives of 'beneficial' and 'usefull'. Otherwise we could consider 'involvement in causality' or something like that.

I think the word rationality could use protection against too much emotional attachment to it. It should retain a specific meaning instead of becoming 'everything that's usefull'.

Talking about whether a state of affairs that doesn't involve any decisions is a rational state of affairs is confusing. People do talk this way sometimes, but I generally understand them to be saying that it is symptomatic of irrationality in whoever made the decisions that led to that state of affairs.

What do you mean? Whose irrationality? Isn't it more straightforward (it's there among the 'virtues of rationality' no?) to just not call things 'rational' if they do not involve thinking?

Thanks for your quick replies. Yes we are agreed in those two points. I'm going to try something that may come off as a little crude, but here goes:

Point 1: If every act or process that helps me is to be called rational, then having a diëtician for a parent is rational. Point 2: The term rational implies involvement of the 'ratio', of thinking. Point 3: No rational thinking, or any thinking at all, is involved in acquiring one's parents. Even adaptive parents tend to acquire their child, not the other way around. Conclusion; Something is wrong with saying that everything that leads to the attainment of a goal is rational.

Perhaps another term should be used for things that help achieve goals but that do not involve thinking, let alone rational or logically sound thinking. This is important because thought is often overstated in the prevalence with which it occurs, and also in the causal weight that is attached to it. Thought is not omnipresent, and thought is often of minor importance in accurately explaining a social phenomenon.

Whether a dietitian-parents could help you achieve all kinds of goals. Generally you'd be likely to have good health, you're less likely to be obese. Healthy, well-fed people tend to be taller, a dietician could use diet changes to reduce acne problems and whatnot. It is generally accepted that healthy, tall, good-looking people have better chances at achieving all sorts of goals. Also, dieticians are relatively wealthy highly-educated people. A child of a dietician is a child of privilege, upper middle class!

Anyway, my point is exactly that nobody can choose their parents.TimS said:

Any act or process that helps with achieving goals is rational.

I would consider parenthood a process. But having a certain set of parents instead of another has little to do with rationality, despite most parents being 'usefull'. In the same way, I would not consider it rational to like singing, even though the acquired skills of breathing and voice manipulation might help you convey a higher status or help with public speaking. To decide to take singing lessons, if you want to become a public speaker, might be rational. But to simply enjoy singing shouldn't be considered so, even if it does help with your public speaking. Because no rational thought is involved.

If 'effective' in the very loosest sense, is drawn into what is called rational, doesn't that confuse the term?

I mean, to my mind, having a diëtician for a parent ( leading to fortuitous fortitude which assist in the achievement of certain goals ) is not rational, because it is not something that is in any way tied to the 'ratio'. This thing that helps you achieve goals is simply convenient or a privilege, not rational at all.

By that definition you might say that, but that still leaves the problem I tend to adress, that rationality (and by the supplied definition also irrationality) is suscribe to people and actions where thinking quite likely did not take place or was not the deciding factor of what action came about in the end. It falsely divides human experience into 'rational' and 'erroneously rational/irrational'. Thinkin is nog all that goes on among humans.

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