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On Rationality:

Mate Griffon To Mare
Inherent in the fact that we hold a belief is the fact that we think the belief is true. Of course, if a belief is true, then holding it is rational. The conclusion of all this is that everyone thinks that every belief they hold is rational, no matter how ludicrous the belief is, and sees themself as rational, because, after all, they hold only rational (in their view) beliefs.

But not all beliefs are true, and not all people are rational. So some people are irrational, hold irrational beliefs and don't know it. The thing is, they see themselves as being as rational as you see yourself as being. So how do you know you aren't one of them?

My basic question is how can a person know if their reason is deceived at any given time? How can a person, for that matter, know if any belief they hold is rational or is ridiculous. And if they can't, does that mean that knowledge is impossible?
"All pain is a punishment, and every punishment is inflicted for love as much as for justice." — Joseph De Maistre.
Yes, it does. but sometimes the balance of probability in your favor is high enough to act on.
<><
 3 Aondeug, Wed, 25th May '11 2:42:20 PM from  Our Dreams
Oh My
I don't know. That's what testing is for. To see what seems to be the most probable. Testing has its limits though and is subject to bias though. Then we have the issue of subjectivity and my belief that we cannot ever truly know the truth of such things. So in the end I can't know.

edited 25th May '11 2:43:06 PM by Aondeug

If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
 4 Tzetze, Wed, 25th May '11 2:54:03 PM from a converted church in Venice, Italy
DUMB
You should probably just take a course in epistemology somewhere.
 5 Aondeug, Wed, 25th May '11 3:01:08 PM from  Our Dreams
Oh My
I should just because the name sounds cool!
If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
 6 del diablo, Wed, 25th May '11 3:05:19 PM from Somewher in mid Norway
Den harde nordmann
Why will a rock drop if we let it fall? Because of gravity, and it has happened every time before that.
Why does a man not touch a hot iron kettle? Because he burnt his hand at something hot as a kid, and hence got it properly into his brain.
What does a sociologist think? He thinks of what is likely.

edited 25th May '11 3:06:54 PM by del_diablo

A guy called dvorak is tired. Tired of humanity not wanting to change to improve itself. Quite the sad tale.
Mentor
What's that rationalist saying? what do you know and how do you know it? I know that isn't right >_<

 8 feotakahari, Wed, 25th May '11 4:12:56 PM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
This is why I argue for free speech, even for people whose beliefs I consider ridiculous. I'm waiting for them to find an argument that makes sense to me.
That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
Mate Griffon To Mare
[up][up] What do we know, what do we suspect, what can we prove?
"All pain is a punishment, and every punishment is inflicted for love as much as for justice." — Joseph De Maistre.
 10 They Call Me Tomu, Wed, 25th May '11 5:16:35 PM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
Nothing, lots of stuff, the things that no one is arguing about to begin with.

Mate Griffon To Mare
I think my argument in the OP disregards that there are degrees of certainty that a person can have in beliefs. Perhaps we believe things on two levels: there are the fundamentals of logic and morality, which are both innate, and then there are the beliefs we've formed in life after that, which are less deeply rooted in our psyches. Just a theory.
"All pain is a punishment, and every punishment is inflicted for love as much as for justice." — Joseph De Maistre.
 12 Bobby G, Wed, 25th May '11 5:46:58 PM from the Silvery Tay
vigilantly taxonomish
I don't believe there's a difference. There are beliefs that are held more strongly than others, but they can still change under certain circumstances, and they can still be false.
victorinox243
Welcome to the Postmodern era. Or as the author of "Master and Emissary" wrote, the beginning of a right-brained dominated era.

There is a point where taking things too far inside the box of rationality becomes detrimental to living. Lingering on such a feedback loop has destroyed people. Such rumination has epistemological significance, but that also means it's one of those things which does not have a rational, definite reason or answer.

 14 De Marquis, Wed, 25th May '11 5:54:56 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Wow, this place has changed. A whole page on rationality and not one link to LessWrong
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 15 Bobby G, Wed, 25th May '11 5:56:22 PM from the Silvery Tay
 16 Wicked 223, Wed, 25th May '11 6:11:04 PM from Death Star in the forest
Welcome to the Postmodern era. Or as the author of "Master and Emissary" wrote, the beginning of a right-brained dominated era. There is a point where taking things too far inside the box of rationality becomes detrimental to living. Lingering on such a feedback loop has destroyed people. Such rumination has epistemological significance, but that also means it's one of those things which does not have a rational, definite reason or answer.

I've read this post 5 times and I can't glean a single useful point from it...
You can't even write racist abuse in excrement on somebody's car without the politically correct brigade jumping down your throat!
 17 drunkscriblerian, Wed, 25th May '11 6:11:36 PM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
@Leigh: for starters, interesting question. I like it.

Inherent in the fact that we hold a belief is the fact that we think the belief is true. Of course, if a belief is true, then holding it is rational. The conclusion of all this is that everyone thinks that every belief they hold is rational, no matter how ludicrous the belief is, and sees themself as rational, because, after all, they hold only rational (in their view) beliefs.

I disagree with your conclusion. One can hold a belief, acknowledge it to be irrational yet continue to think it has meaning anyway * .

That said, I'll give you that on a practical level, you're largely correct; people assume their own beliefs are self evident. Which is why there's so much conflict in the world.

My basic question is how can a person know if their reason is deceived at any given time? How can a person, for that matter, know if any belief they hold is rational or is ridiculous. And if they can't, does that mean that knowledge is impossible?

Answers: You can't, You shouldn't and no.

Explanation: Knowledge is not static. It's a constantly changing force, and our belief system should reflect that. There's a sociological theory called "Cognitive Dissonance" which is basically a fancy term for that queasy feeling you get when one belief runs into a cold hard fact which renders it irrelevant. People are prone to ignoring such data * or rationalizing it away.

IMO, rationality is overrated. Self-awareness is far more important.

edited 25th May '11 6:11:53 PM by drunkscriblerian

If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
 18 Tzetze, Wed, 25th May '11 6:19:29 PM from a converted church in Venice, Italy
DUMB
No, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort caused by holding mutually contradictory beliefs.
 19 Bobby G, Wed, 25th May '11 6:20:38 PM from the Silvery Tay
vigilantly taxonomish
@ Wicked: What do you mean by "useful"? It seems like a good point to me.
 20 drunkscriblerian, Wed, 25th May '11 6:20:46 PM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
@Tze: the term applies to either, but you're more correct than I am. smile
If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
 21 Carciofus, Wed, 25th May '11 10:11:42 PM from Alpha Tucanae I
Is that cake frosting?
Rationality is not really a property of beliefs: rather, it is a property of the way in which you update your beliefs. You can be rational and wrong, or irrational and right.

Dumb example: I am afraid that I will get hit by a car today, because my horoscope said so. Then I walk through the street, and get hit by a random car. My belief ended up being right, but most people would agree that it was still quite irrational.

As to precisely which methods of knowledge updating count as rational... well, there are plenty of possibilities here.

Personally, I think that an eclectic approach should be favored. There are no "laws" of rationality, there is a bag of useful tricks which sort of kinda work when applied to certain specific situations, at least most of the time.

One should feel free to mix and match as needed, and to try new ideas if they look like they might lead somewhere interesting. Whatever works, works — no matter how you want to define it, "rationality" is a tool, not a slave owner.

edited 25th May '11 10:19:49 PM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 22 joeyjojo, Thu, 26th May '11 1:53:51 AM from South Sydney: go the bunnies! Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Happy Oktoberfest!
"Cognitive Dissonance" which is basically a fancy term for that queasy feeling you get when one belief runs into a cold hard fact which renders it irrelevant. People are prone to ignoring such data * ...And often with goo reason; cold hard facts can be counterproductive to one's continued survival or rationalizing it away.

Amen to that. My life would be a lot happy if I was capable of Cognitive Dissonance sad No matter how hard I squint I can't see grey when things are black and white.

Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy -Gandolf In Harry Potter
 23 honorius, Thu, 26th May '11 6:26:44 AM from The Netherlands
I've read this post 5 times and I can't glean a single useful point from it...
I can't either. What is his point? That we're switching to an irrational world view? Why?
If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
 24 Myrmidon, Thu, 26th May '11 7:24:18 AM from In Antartica
The Ant King
Welcome to the Postmodern era. Or as the author of "Master and Emissary" wrote, the beginning of a right-brained dominated era.

There is a point where taking things too far inside the box of rationality becomes detrimental to living. Lingering on such a feedback loop has destroyed people. Such rumination has epistemological significance, but that also means it's one of those things which does not have a rational, definite reason or answer.
So how's the weather in the 1990s, nowadays?
Kill all math nerds
Inherent in the fact that we hold a belief is the fact that we think the belief is true. Of course, if a belief is true, then holding it is rational. The conclusion of all this is that everyone thinks that every belief they hold is rational, no matter how ludicrous the belief is, and sees themself as rational, because, after all, they hold only rational (in their view) beliefs.

I think you're moving too fast through this line of argumentation. Holding only beliefs that are believed to be true is one of the requirements of being rational, but it's not the only condition. Now, people may have varying different ideas of what the other conditions are (for both knowledge and rationality, they seem a bit mixed together in my reading of your OP, ) but it will in general be a justification (or a counterfactual or two that track whether the belief is based in reality.) This leads us to the question as to what third condition for knowledge

edited 26th May '11 5:53:37 PM by Alexander_UE

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Total posts: 25
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