[extropy-chat] Rational thinking

Chris Hibbert hibbert at mydruthers.com
Fri Dec 1 06:59:15 UTC 2006

> Chris Hibbert wrote:
>> > I hope I don't have to quote everything relevant in your 
>> > message in order to be understood to be taking that as context.
> No you don't have to include all the relevant text, but the funny
> thing is that twice now you've deleted my sentence

Hmmm.  Seems we have different approaches to constructing a reply.  I 
don't delete particular sentences, I include the particular sentences 
that give context to what I'm saying.  In this case, I didn't understand 
your argument, so I didn't recognize the points you made to provide a 
foundation.  I left them out because they weren't the points I wanted to 

> stating that both classes
> of actors, (the founding fathers and the kamikaze pilots) were acting
> rationally, acting effectively within their contextual environment. But
> it's clear that that relevant line hasn't been making an impression on
> you, because earlier you said you thought I was calling the kamikaze
> pilots irrational, and now (below) you're referring to the "difference
> in apparent rationality".
> To summarize:
> First I said something about rationality: That rationality can be
> assessed only within context.
> **** I keep saying I think they were each acting rationally, acting as
> effectively as they could within their respective contextual
> environments. ****
> I then went on to say something about morality: That increasing morality
> corresponds with increasingly rational actions applied to promoting
> increasingly shared values over increasing scope.
> **** I keep saying that I think the founding fathers' actions were more
> moral than the kamikaze pilots' actions, because, despite effectively
> equal degree of rationality,  the founding fathers were acting on behalf
> of a larger shared identity, to promote values that would have
> consequences over larger scope. ****

Thanks.  That exposition makes your stance clear to me.  I was missing 
it, probably mostly because I saw your example of kamikaze pilots as an 
example of the "other" and jumped to a conclusion about where you were 

My apologies.

> Actually I've never thought of the Japanese as enemies, being much too
> young to have developed such feelings during the way, and having several
> close friends in Japan.  I also haven't considered their decisions to
> become kamikaze pilots as bad for them.  As I've said repeatedly, I
> think they did the best they could have in that situation.  The
> consequences of refusing to become kamikaze pilots would have been much
> worse.

I lived in Japan for several years as well, but was too young for deep 
discussions of rationality or morality at the time.

I did see your repeated claim that they were rational.  I thought your 
point was that rationality can lead you astray rather than that 
rationality is distinct from morality.

> I keep saying that I think both the kamikaze pilots and the founding
> fathers were acting relatively rationally within their respective
> contexts.  In other words, I don't agree and have never asserted that
> their was a difference in apparent rationality. 
I get it now.

>> > due to the social pressures of the situation, or the cause
>> > for which they fought?  Do we have preconceptions based on
>> > who they were, how the battle turned out, or the results
>> > they achieved for themselves or their posterity?
> No, but maybe this is clearer now based on clarifications above.


>> > I'm not sure what to conclude from a comparison of allied 
>> > troops, who also sometimes were sent on suicide missions, 
>> > with the kamikazes. 
> Huh?  I'm quite sure there was only a Japanese pilot in those kamikaze
> planes.
> Maybe you meant to say that Allied troops were also sent on suicide
> missions.

I think what I wrote can be interpreted the same as if I had written

 >> I'm not sure what to conclude from a comparison of allied
 >> troops (who also sometimes were sent on suicide missions)
 >> with the kamikazes.

But the latter would have been clearer.  Usually I'm guilty of using too 
many parenthetical asides, rather than too few.

Thanks for sticking with me,
All sensory cells [in all animals] have in common the presence of
... cilia [with a constant] structure.  It provides a strong
argument for common ancestry.  The common ancestor ... was a
spirochete bacterium.
   --Lynn Margulis (http://edge.org/q2005/q05_7.html#margulis)

Chris Hibbert
hibbert at mydruthers.com
Blog:   http://pancrit.org

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