[extropy-chat] examples of rational irrationalism

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Dec 10 01:13:27 UTC 2006

BillK writes

> On 12/9/06, Lee Corbin wrote:
>> I'm afraid it's time to abandon ship [with regard to the word "rationality"].
>> Words are like ball-bearings on a skating rink:  to get anywhere, you have
>> to tread carefully and be especially wary of putting too much weight on
>> any one of them.

What I meant by that is that *no* word is indispensible.  We all have
fine vocabularies, and if we're not understanding each other's usage of
a particular word, then we can express ourselves more clearly by

> We are not allowed to have our own personal meanings for words.
> Not if you wish to communicate with speakers of the same language.


> 'Define your terms' is always a good idea when confusion arises.

No, it is an utterly terrible idea.  If you've been using a word for many years
to mean a certain thing, just how long do you expect to remember that person
X means Y by the word?   It *never* helps to define words, except perhaps
as a follow-up explanation for what sounded like nonsense to someone.

Moreover, it makes discussion impossible if everyone sticks to their
own meaning---which you note---which they will.

So just stop using the word.

In this case person after person:  The Avantgardian, me, Ben G., Rafal, Jef, and
several others I could name (if I took several minutes to fish through some emails)
have repeatedly said that, as Ben put it

           To me, rationality has two aspects:

           1) how effectively one achieves one's explicit goals, given the
           constraints imposed by the resources at one's disposal.

           2) how coherent one is as a goal-achiever (implicit goals = explicit goals)

and this, and the others, pretty much agree with the opening paragraphs 
in the wikipedia article on rationality.

All to no avial, Bill.

Because an almost equally numerous group continues to insist that suicide
bombing is intrinsically irrational, and they have their own definitions which
they are not about to stop using.  You just have to recognize this.

(I omit commenting on the rest of your interesting post due to shortage of time.)


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