THE PROMISE OF RATIONAL - 30 JUNE 2012
Tree & Contrails - Cummings, Kansas
I've talked before how rational thought fits into our lives. I think I even talked about how feelings seem to fit in as well. About 200 or more years ago when the first industrial revolution began, rational thought began to gain substantial traction with society in general. Originally promoted by the ancient Greeks, rationality was the premise that improving knowledge and society and getting closer to truth was through science and deductive reasoning. This age of enlightenment 200 years ago directly led to the industrial revolution and is the primary philosophical force in our world today. There is tremendous promise related to being rational. The problem is if you believe that's all there is you are missing much.
At the most basic, rationality is simply deductive reasoning where an idea leads to another idea that leads to another all logically tied together. Of course, all these ideas are themselves based on rationality. Meaning, they're rationally justified.
Here's the problem, even if you're following a rational thought flow based on the best arguments the direction is still based on a gigantic key ingredient, the human mind. The path a certain rational argument takes is no more truthful than any other rational argument that makes sense--see, the human mind involved again. In the scientific world, a reasonable rational argument is simply an untested argument until there is empirical evidence giving it better credibility. The point here is many smart rational people can come up with different arguments and they all have the same merit until real empirical data is collected suggesting one rational thought is better than the other.
Why is this important? Why am I bringing this up? It's important because your good idea is just as useful and full of merit as the next guys until there's real evidence to say otherwise. If you still can't see the possibility consider this. What if the only difference between one guy and the next guys good idea has nothing to do with the real merits of the idea but only about their debating power, or the power of their argument. What if one person's idea rises to the top simply because they have better talents for discourse. What's discourse? It's simply communicating.
I think this is a hazardous situation. If really fantastic ideas are lost simply because the person with that fantastic idea wasn't able to communicate it, we are all worse for it. Could you imagine if all the great communicators believed in a flat earth where we would be today? What if the great communicators only believed in segregation through the 1950's? Obviously, I could go on and on.
Here's the thing, when you're comparing one good idea to the next they'll have equal merit regardless of the rhetoric associated with each. Without real empirical evidence they're all just good ideas. The promise of rationalizing has limits until you actually gain real experience. Until then, it's just a good idea.
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