[extropy-chat] Humans--non-rational mode

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Fri Mar 10 09:46:22 UTC 2006

On Mar 9, 2006, at 8:09 AM, Lee Corbin wrote:
> Probably true.  I have had no end of difficulty getting people  
> (even three
> years ago on this list) to doubt the merits of unbridled  
> rationality. Folks
> here and elsewhere seem to equate rationality with critical  
> thinking, and to
> continually see those with whom they simply disagree as lacking in  
> rationality.

It depends a lot on how "rationality" is being defined, doesn't it.   
I don't equate as an equality rationality with critical thinking.   
Critical thinking is a tool used in service of rationality but it is  
not equivalent to rationality.  All of us have seen critical thinking  
be used in service of the decidedly irrational also, I imagine.

> Moreover, (perhaps we agree here) rationality in the absence of  
> moderating
> emotional and intuitive restraint has been highly oversold, and  
> despite
> help from Hayek, few seem to be getting the message.

I cannot agree without a great deal better agreement on what is meant  
by "rationality".

> Most of the horrors
> of the twentieth century came from unbridled rationality, e.g.,  
> Leninism
> and Nazism and people's general conviction that they could remold  
> society
> by the power of reason alone.

That is a blatant falsehood.  Lenin and subsequent party doctrine  
distrusted rationality and twisted away from objective reality into  
proletarian vs. bourgeois  truth.  Reason was seen as a weapon in  
service of a separate truth only, not as a guide to rational goals or  
action in the context of an objective reality.  The Nazi party rose  
to power on faith in "blood", in instinct and distrust of reason.

> You'd call it "out of control memes" I wager. But the extremism was  
> all
> very rational. What was missing from their thinking were the  
> traditional
> feelings for their victims, which they suppressed for abstract goals.

No, it was not "very rational".  This is too glaring an error for me  
to follow the rest of this post.

- samantha

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