@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