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The problem with rationalism

The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 03:59:38 AM
The problem with rationalism is this: it tries to raise a human perspective to a universal one.

We project a lot of our own minds and what types of data-structures are convenient for them to use. When analyzing life, we break it down and fit it into those human data-structures.

We also impose the solipsistic bias, which is (a) because this is what I see, it is what everyone sees and (b) because I am seeing it, my viewpoint is absolute.

This is distinct from "I have seen reality, past my own bias, and I can't believe others do not." But from a distance and to someone has not experienced both, they look identical.

This is the root of the Crowd's poison: they wish to make the two the same on a social level. Thus, socially (meaning socializing with friends, not institutionally) we assume that self-bias equals reality-bias.

Next time you parse a public speech by a public figure, consider how it manipulates along these lines.

Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 05:36:46 AM
This reminds me of the MBTI function "Ti" which conceives of things in first principles according to how they fit into a logical scheme. Introverted Thinking refers to a self-referential and internally coherent set of norms, more than a little traumatized when it has its windows broken in by reality.

Rationalism should not be a philosophical movement, but rather known for its value in dissecting the 'nexuses' we perceive in life. Then comes the problem of the tail wagging the dog, which is what many of the issues related to this one entail.

Though with regards to "self-bias equals reality-bias", do we really *believe* this- or is the tacit acceptance of it the "Veil of Maya"?

Also, with regards to speeches... The same genealogy of manipulation is to be found in the most basic sloganeering and buzz-word behaviorals. By making the info as bite size as possible, it exacts the most potent result based on the shortest vocabulary expenditure. This is part and parcel of Civilizational decline as well.

Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 08:29:38 AM
Hence the preference for empiricism, i.e. "show your work."

Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 09:50:37 AM
Hence the preference for empiricism, i.e. "show your work."

Along with:
"We also impose the solipsistic bias, which is (a) because this is what I see, it is what everyone sees and (b) because I am seeing it, my viewpoint is absolute.

This is distinct from "I have seen reality, past my own bias, and I can't believe others do not." But from a distance and to someone has not experienced both, they look identical
."

And you have my life. I've never been able to explain how I do things. People don't get it. Even I don't get it.
I'm gonna have to meditate on this DMBM statement. I have a feeling it's the key to a huge sixty year old dilemma...

(goes away for a few minutes and meditates with a coffee and an E-cig)

...when anyone labels me a 'solipsist', it is the worst of all insults. Nothing else even comes close.
Now I understand!
You heard it first from Deathmetal.org and you heard it first from DMBM!
Gratitude, in spades.




Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 09:52:43 AM
Hence the preference for empiricism, i.e. "show your work."

Empiricism makes the problem worse. Using the argument to find the data inevitably results in a form of cherry-picking that enhances the human tendency toward selective awareness, not reduces it.

Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 10:06:54 AM
My mind is fuckin' blown.
Seriously.
All that research, all that crap, all that insanity, haha :)

Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 11:18:09 AM
Hence the preference for empiricism, i.e. "show your work."

Empiricism makes the problem worse. Using the argument to find the data inevitably results in a form of cherry-picking that enhances the human tendency toward selective awareness, not reduces it.

What you describe is not empiricism, but rather manipulation.  Empiricism properly practiced means deriving conclusions from data, not selecting data to fit a preexisting conclusion.  Sure, it's a process, and, like any process, it can be gamed by someone who wants to game it, but the fix is simple enough.  You can lie with numbers once, maybe even keep up the charade for a while, but as soon as someone comes along behind you and deals honestly with the data, the jig is up.  The weakness, of course, is that there are many aspects of reality that are resistant to empirical observation, but where it can be usefully applied, it is to be preferred to any other method.

Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 11:48:37 AM
Could the preferred middle ground perhaps be that empirical data forces a recalibration of phenomena within the same 'game' that empiricism functions 'within'? Perhaps this solution 'solves nothing' and in that case ok.

Also, when people say 'empiricism' versus 'rationalism' I tend to think of two vying positions towards reality rather than the expression of reality itself. The difficulty is that reality reveals itself through both (in an inadvertent way). I guess my definition of empiricism is this 'a position towards the world not sourced in the world, though the results it accumulates are' which is why it is not ideal. Though please inform me if my reasoning is unsound.

Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 11:52:26 AM
Any 'reasoning' is unsound. The mere application of reason assures the one applying it, that he has got it right.
However, the very act of reasoning processes the thing being reasoned, and the result, therefore, is the result of the process, not the thing itself.

Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 12:55:36 PM
However, the very act of reasoning processes the thing being reasoned, and the result, therefore, is the result of the process, not the thing itself.

Quote
What is a word? It is the copy in sound of a nerve stimulus. But the further inference from the nerve stimulus to a cause outside of us is already the result of a false and unjustifiable application of the principle of sufficient reason. If truth alone had been the deciding factor in the genesis of language, and if the standpoint of certainty had been decisive for designations, then how could we still dare to say "the stone is hard," as if "hard" were something otherwise familiar to us, and not merely a totally subjective stimulation! We separate things according to gender, designating the tree as masculine and the plant as feminine. What arbitrary assignments! How far this oversteps the canons of certainty! We speak of a "snake": this designation touches only upon its ability to twist itself and could therefore also fit a worm. What arbitrary differentiations! What one-sided preferences, first for this, then for that property of a thing!

The various languages placed side by side show that with words it is never a question of truth, never a question of adequate expression; otherwise, there would not be so many languages. The "thing in itself" (which is precisely what the pure truth, apart from any of its consequences, would be) is likewise something quite incomprehensible to the creator of language and something not in the least worth striving for. This creator only designates the relations of things to men, and for expressing these relations he lays hold of the boldest metaphors. To begin with, a nerve stimulus is transferred into an image: first metaphor. The image, in turn, is imitated in a sound: second metaphor. And each time there is a complete overleaping of one sphere, right into the middle of an entirely new and different one. One can imagine a man who is totally deaf and has never had a sensation of sound and music. Perhaps such a person will gaze with astonishment at Chladni's sound figures; perhaps he will discover their causes in the vibrations of the string and will now swear that he must know what men mean by "sound."

It is this way with all of us concerning language; we believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things -- metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities. In the same way that the sound appears as a sand figure, so the mysterious X of the thing in itself first appears as a nerve stimulus, then as an image, and finally as a sound. Thus the genesis of language does not proceed logically in any case, and all the material within and with which the man of truth, the scientist, and the philosopher later work and build, if not derived from never-never land, is a least not derived from the essence of things. In particular, let us further consider the formation of concepts. Every word instantly becomes a concept precisely insofar as it is not supposed to serve as a reminder of the unique and entirely individual original experience to which it owes its origin; but rather, a word becomes a concept insofar as it simultaneously has to fit countless more or less similar cases -- which means, purely and simply, cases which are never equal and thus altogether unequal. Every concept arises from the equation of unequal things.

Just as it is certain that one leaf is never totally the same as another, so it is certain that the concept "leaf" is formed by arbitrarily discarding these individual differences and by forgetting the distinguishing aspects. This awakens the idea that, in addition to the leaves, there exists in nature the "leaf": the original model according to which all the leaves were perhaps woven, sketched, measured, colored, curled, and painted -- but by incompetent hands, so that no specimen has turned out to be a correct, trustworthy, and faithful likeness of the original model. We call a person "honest," and then we ask "why has he behaved so honestly today?" Our usual answer is, "on account of his honesty." Honesty! This in turn means that the leaf is the cause of the leaves. We know nothing whatsoever about an essential quality called "honesty"; but we do know of countless individualized and consequently unequal actions which we equate by omitting the aspects in which they are unequal and which we now designate as "honest" actions.

Finally we formulate from them a qualities occulta which has the name "honesty." We obtain the concept, as we do the form, by overlooking what is individual and actual; whereas nature is acquainted with no forms and no concepts, and likewise with no species, but only with an X which remains inaccessible and undefinable for us. For even our contrast between individual and species is something anthropomorphic and does not originate in the essence of things; although we should not presume to claim that this contrast does not correspond o the essence of things: that would of course be a dogmatic assertion and, as such, would be just as indemonstrable as its opposite.

What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and; anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions- they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.

What you describe is not empiricism, but rather manipulation.  Empiricism properly practiced means deriving conclusions from data, not selecting data to fit a preexisting conclusion.  Sure, it's a process, and, like any process, it can be gamed by someone who wants to game it, but the fix is simple enough.  You can lie with numbers once, maybe even keep up the charade for a while, but as soon as someone comes along behind you and deals honestly with the data, the jig is up.  The weakness, of course, is that there are many aspects of reality that are resistant to empirical observation, but where it can be usefully applied, it is to be preferred to any other method.

The problem is most commonly in the reduction of the subject to be studied to a series of questions. For any question an answer can be constructed, but does the question address the whole of the situation? For that, an organic process is needed. The pursuit of data, as an abstraction which represents the logical relationship but is not equal to it because the abstraction has fewer factors than the real-world interaction which is composed not only of the object but its context and natural laws, in itself succumbs to the flaws of rationalism.

Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 01:08:03 PM
^ = the processing of reality into intellect.
V = Lao Tzu style generic description of reality:

"It is what it is".

You will never begin to see it for what it is, if you intellectualize it.

Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 01:12:36 PM
It seems even more primordial however.

If you ___ it at all, you lose the ghost. When you just stop, you realize you are it.*

And DMBM, what you say in the above quote reminds me of Quine's "indeterminacy of translation"- though I doubt you believe in quite the same thing that he has in mind.

Edit*: Of course, some people will misinterpret this quote and adduce the 'ego' instead of 'that art thou'

Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 01:23:06 PM
This is the intrinsic problem with 'communication'.
Everybody assumes it is taking place, without ever adequately determining what 'communication' is.

Experience proves that it almost never is. Especially when someone 'agrees'.

If any of you ever wondered what DMBM sees in me, and why he would even dream up such a crazy idea of having me make like an admin, on a deathmetal site, when I don't even listen to deathmetal, it is this:
He and I are One. Different carbon-based units, scuttling around the continent, physically discrete, yet connected by an invisible thread called 'communication'.

And it is this, above all, that permits us to cooperate.




Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 07:58:39 PM
To me, the problem with rationalism is that it's very low level construct. It doesn't take much to be rational, to be able to come up with means of achieving your goals.

LessWrong is a community blog that dedicates itself to the "art of refining human rationality". It's all about overcoming biases and hacking your brain to becoming more productive. One of many problems I have with it is that they conflate values with biases, so a person who thinks in terms of ideals is considered "irrational".

http://lesswrong.com/

If rationalism is pragmatism, then count me out. Compromise is for cattle.

Re: The problem with rationalism
April 24, 2014, 09:06:43 PM
Any 'reasoning' is unsound. The mere application of reason assures the one applying it, that he has got it right.
However, the very act of reasoning processes the thing being reasoned, and the result, therefore, is the result of the process, not the thing itself.

The "thing itself" is effectively inaccessible, at least in a direct sense.  Our entire experience of the universe is at a distance twice removed from the "thing itself."  We don't "see" the world, we "see" the reflection of the world as interpreted by our brains. We don't "hear" the sound of a guitar string, we "hear" the second order effects of a plucked string on the surrounding environment, again, as filtered and interpreted by our brains.  The entirety of our experience is one vast, ongoing act of interpretation.  The value of evidence/data/empirical observation is not that it reveals reality but that it exposes unreality, and its proper application is as a corrective measure, not as an avenue to "truth."