Philosophy topic, baby!
Been a while since I’ve been more focused on epistemology, so this is a nice move into something that I quite enjoy and often think about.
What’s rationalism? I need to define this, because people often confuse rationalism with “being rational” as that tends to be the way that common language defines it.
No no. Rationalism is an epistemological (epistemology is theory of knowledge aka how we know what we know, for beginners) position that knowledge comes from intellect. In other words, unicorns are definitely real, we just haven’t seen them yet.
That’s a rationalization as to why unicorns exist, but there is zero concrete evidence that unicorns actually exist – by concrete, I mean actually seeing one. There’s no footage, no footprints, no secret cabal under Mount Rushmore hiding the evidence..nadda.
But, rationalizations like this tend to compound into more rationalizations. The idea that a cabal under Mount Rushmore is hiding unicorns and their existence because they have magic anti-covid dust is a pretty fun argument, but it’s not a real one, because it lacks evidence.
Notice that there is just more addition to that story though. It went from unicorns are real, to them having covid-dust and being hidden by a cabal. Show me concrete evidence and I’ll grant maybe a modicum of interest in the fact that you think unicorns exist, otherwise I just dismiss your claims as arbitrary or a good script for a movie.
All of the above was basically rationalism. Why is this bad?
Well, I think for the most part it’s pretty clear. The brain – you – is very, very good at connecting dots, but if you connect dots that have no tethering to reality, then all you’ve got is a bunch of dots in your head that make no sense. Abstractions. Rationalism is basically placing the mind over reality first – in other words, you create reality.
I’ve written about this stuff before, but never addressed it directly. Frozen and Fluid Thinking tends to talk about methods of thought and it alludes to it, and my rant on being a shit psychoanalyst tends to rip into rationalizations in the social realm, too.
The point is, rationalism is very bad and very dangerous, because if you start basing your knowledge off a conclusion that had no tethering to some kind of inference from induction, you’re opening up an endless pit of deductive reasoning in order to prove your own position correct. Think of it as a sinking boat – the boat was sinking before you got on, but you’re too stubborn to admit that you got on a sinking boat. Just take the L bro. You’re not beta.
This doesn’t mean I never do it. It’s really fucking easy to do this – that’s the hard part. It feels good to be right – and humans really hate being wrong. I largely see this as an educational problem in that we teach kids through testing that being wrong is bad, but that’s a topic for another day – educator woes.
I digress. Another problem is people invest their egos far too much into being “right” rather than being precise. What I mean by this is not that being right is bad, but knowing your limits, understanding where to start, and learning to correct fundamental errors is a complex task of constant revising, reforming and staying absolutely 100% grounded in reality and only reality. No religion, no philosophy, reality. Shut the fuck up about your ideologies. See first.
It starts from your senses, and builds from there. What you see is what you get, and what you get is where you start to infer. That’s when reasoning starts and where conclusions can arise. However, you have to be really careful and consistent in your approach while being ready to correct errors. Thinking and by extension knowing is very hard and requires active monitoring. It requires a constant referral back to the fundamentals of what you’ve seen with your senses.
This goes into a tangent about optical illusions. Drives me nuts when people use that as a way to say that we can’t understand reality and our senses are faulty. It’s
retarded (can I still use that word? Hang on I’ll ask my lawyer, he’s retarded).
How do you know that you know it’s an optical illusion without first trusting in the very apparatus that you identified it with? How do you know how it works? Are you serious? Is my voice an illusion? Is that air you’re breathing? How about the hand on the stove? Ouch or matrix?
Probably an ouch, but I’m getting ahead of myself with suppressed frustration in the doubting of one’s senses. My point is, by focusing only on the intellect, we fail to see what is in front of us and work towards being right rather than being precise about being right.
Bad ideas and conclusions come from rationalistic thinking, and it leads to absolutely disastrous results,
like Universally Preferrable Behavior. I don’t need to say a thing about the whole pandemic deal over the past few years for anyone to understand how much of a fuck up it has been for most countries – and all of it has to do with rationalizations, twisted egos and constant evasions of reality and reason. The proper kind.
It affects everyone, even the smartest, because it’s easy to do. When we get invested in our thought processes, it is incredibly easy to maintain that because it’s hard to accept that your time has been wasted on an ultimately worthless process of thought.
You need to get your ego out of it, and I don’t mean in the egoistic sense. If you don’t know, you don’t know, and you’ll be a better man/woman for it – because then you’ll learn and be one step closer to truly being right.
Honesty is the fact that you respect reality and by extension yourself – and it also means learning to accept the fact that sometimes, you can be a real idiot. That’s fine, just take the L and move on. Hit the gym, lawyer up, get jacked, read some Ayn Rand and Aristotle too.
Just remember that it starts with the senses first. Make the inferences based off that, and build your reasoning from there. Over time you’ll get better and better at it, and with it, respect yourself a whole lot more.
Now fuck off, and go find me a unicorn with covid-dust.