8 Bit Philosophy: Does Rationality Give Life Meaning?

Does Rationality Give Life Meaning?

Does rationality give life meaning?

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I doubt anyone should choose being irrational over being rational.

If we were to do so we might all feel that things like racism, homophobia, etcetera were good.

OK. So many wrongs in a mere three minutes video.

First, rationality is quite a new concept in humankind history. For thousand of years, we have been driven by instincts and irrationality (ie, religion, which is a kind of rationality in its own, but with a fuckton of wrong assumptions and blind ignorance). And even when rationality was around (ancient greece, 18th/19th centuries), there were still an awful majority of irrational people, both among commoners AND leaders.

So speaking of rationality like some kind of tyrannic school of thought is quite the overstatment. Especially coming from some guy whose very own religion has quite a few "issues" to address about totalitarian brainwashing behaviors (you know, the leave-your-children-to-our-care and others shut-up-you-re-illitterate-and-i-totally-know-what-im-saying-so-burn-that-witch-who-is-your-daughter-who-claims-i-raped-her-while-i-totally-didn't).

Second, I find most of his arguments quite weak:
- I fail to see how rationality gives an illusion of meaning, while religion gives -true- meaning (remember, we're speaking about guys proclaming divine meaning to the universe on absolutely no basis but wishful thinking... and fear of death... and pure egocentrism... and severe mental illnesses)

- 99% of straight guys (and lesbians) will choose the girl, because their trillion cells will scream to their brain "save what can be f*cked, so we could obtain immortality through copies of ourselves!". It's no way passionate or irrational -romantism-, just basic reproduction directive, patiently sculpted by evolution since the last 3 billions years. Being passionnate is no freedom AT ALL, you're surrendering yourself to your own genes. You want real freedom? Shut your instincts and your passion down for a minute and look rationally to your reasons.
Personnaly, I would choose the girl. Because, yeah, I want to f*ck. But at least, I choose it willingly. Except if the guy is quite rich and generous. Then, I could use his money to f*ck more. But again: rationality, no passion.

- I think this "philosopher" (a christian philosopher is basically a jew nazi: it cannot go on without eventually contradicts itself) mixes together progress and rationality. While both go together most of the time, they're clearly separate (for instance: to reduce or to invert progress might be a rational decision to improve sharing of available resources)

- Rationality can easily understand, comprehend and predict religion. There're several theories about what religion is and how it came to be (and how it continues to exist despite its nefarious influence on individuals). Religion can hardly understand anything without a "wizard doing it".

- Rationality isn't antagonist to meaning, I don't need to be passionnate to choose a meaning in my life. Furthermore, my process of decision-makig is more solid if based on provable and predictable facts than on guts alone (remember the genetic bias in the innerworkings of your brain)

- Leap of faith? Yeah, sure. It might have worked for some who jumped above the abyss. But what's about all the millions others that did it and fall to their death?
Easy to use the few successes to make a point. But I consider it more honest to look at all the failures, to decide if a course of action is really that good in the end.
For instance: bouddhism. For one bodhisattva, how many billions of children have been sent to "school" to attain so-called freedom of mind, and failed doing so?

Oh by the way, you want true leap of faith?
Go ask the guys who sent their plane into some towers a decade back. That's real leap of faith.
Me? I will stay with my idiotic, nonsensical rationality. I know. I'm such a moron.

mtarzaim02:
Snip.

You know the video isn't saying this philosopher is correct, right? They're raising the question for people to answer themselves.

RatGouf:
I doubt anyone should choose being irrational over being rational. If we were to do so we might all feel that things like racism, homophobia, etcetera were good.

First of all he is not arguing to be irrational but non-rational. Not to make decisions that go against reason, but to accept that there are decisions that are not based on reason. For you example we have to ask why racism and such are seen as bad rationally, it will normally come down to something about like a belief in equality. For that to hold up you have that belief in equality which has no rational basis. (Yes you could come up with reasons for it, but then you will need reasons for those reasons, and eventually you will reach a terminal point.) You could easily hold to a belief that what is best, is what is best for you and your direct offspring. In which cases it is perfectly rational to support very extreme forms of racism, if they are against groups other than your own. The truth is reason is only a tool, its extremely effective at helping one achieve their goals, but it itself cannot be a true goal.

As an atheist existentialist I find this theist existentialist argument pretty weak. It places entirely too much weight in the subjectivity of morality and "inwardness" or gut-feeling. Acknowledging the fact that people act of their own accord based on their subjective perspective is not an argument against rationality or the process of logic. Even though different people have different viewpoints that doesn't mean that one is irrational for coming to a different conclusion. The difference in conclusions does not mean that there isn't such a thing as objectivity. Doing things not because you try to follow a train of logic but rather due to gut-feeling is the pinnacle of unthinking and unscientific behavior.

IOwnTheSpire:

You know the video isn't saying this philosopher is correct, right? They're raising the question for people to answer themselves.

Then, where's the counterarguments?
The classic thesis/antithesis/synthesis isn't even there. Plus the way it presents the philosopher's arguments (he basically destroys planet Reason) makes it more oriented than anything...

For you example we have to ask why racism and such are seen as bad rationally, it will normally come down to something about like a belief in equality.

It's a lot more simple than that: if racism is a good thing, then me being hated by racists is a good thing, and me being killed by racists is a good thing. Wait a minute: I don't want to be killed!
Then I shouldn't accept behavior that could allow others to threaten my life. Therefore racism is bad.

mtarzaim02:
(Stuff)

You! I like you. Well said.

mtarzaim02:

Then, where's the counterarguments?

It's not an argumentative essay, its a few minute video that presents a summary of a philosopher's ideas.

It's a lot more simple than that: if racism is a good thing, then me being hated by racists is a good thing, and me being killed by racists is a good thing. Wait a minute: I don't want to be killed!
Then I shouldn't accept behavior that could allow others to threaten my life. Therefore racism is bad.

Two things, one this only works if you are the subject of racism and not the perpetrator. A white slave owner is greatly benefited by racism, and while there is a very small chance of them being hurt by someone who hates all whites, in most societies that had slaves based on racism the benefits on average far outweighed that. Second I don't want to die is not a sentiment based on logic it's an emotional statement.

Speaking of meaning and the lack thereof. This video. You can only make so many categorical errors, use so many non-defined words, commit so many logical fallacies and say so many things which just plain make no sense before what you say becomes strictly meaningless. This video has well crossed that line and is now in the land of incoherent muttering. And no, copying the incoherent mutterings of Kierkegaard doesn't make it any better. And no, the fact that Kierkegaard responded to the incoherent mutterings of Hegel still doesn't help.

I'll just point out some of the many absurdities: The second sentence is: "For thousands of years, rationality has been considered the hallmark of truth, for through it the modern age has given us fast cars, instant food, advanced medicine immediate communication and epic giant robots."

The first problem with this can be grasped immediately by anyone with even the remotest understanding of history. Whatever happens in the modern age cannot be a reason or cause (which the word 'for' implies) of notions that have been around for thousands of years. Typically in philosophical discourse the early modern age is supposed to have started with Descartes (early to mid 17th century) and the modern age proper is supposed to have started with Kant (late 18th century). Now whenever the modern age started might vary depending on your point of view but I have never heard anyone claim it was anywhere before the fall of constantinople in 1453 which was not a thousand or more years ago. The reason people like Plato, Aristotle, Parmenides, the stoics and the like thought reason was a good thing had nothing to do with stuff we have gotten from it thousands of years later. Even in the modern age philosophers like Kant who like reason do not like it because it gives us stuff.

But such a blatand causal and historical absurdity isn't even the worst of it. For what does it mean to say 'rationality has been considered the hallmark of truth'. Truth is a property of propositions, sentences or thoughts (depending on which philosopher you ask) whereas rationality is a property of decisions, reasons or persons. How can rationality be the hallmark of truth? It is well recognised that completely irrational people might say true things once in a while or that you might believe something to be true for touroughly irrational reasons. Perhaps it is meant that rational thinking leads to true believes but even that is rather vague.

next up: "Sure, reason makes life more convenient but it doesn't give us what we really want, to live meaningful lives."

There is a reason why a significant part of philosophers scoff at the idea of 'the meaning of life'. That reason is because it isn't at all clear what it means for life to have 'meaning'. Words and sentences have meaning.

Then we get to the really incoherent part, as hard as it is to believe that we can get even more incoherent: "Truth cannot be mediated by society, science or authority, I must orient myself towards these things."

What does this mean? Mediation is between two things and it is completely unclear in which sense one of those things might be truth. The closest thing I've ever heard to people claiming truth is mediated by society is the relativistic claim that the truth of a belief depends on it being commonly held. If this is what the author is getting at it isn't clear in the slightest how he has managed to identify 'reason' with 'relativism'. Or, and this is what I believe, the author does not have the faintest clue what the word 'truth' means.

Lastly, the claim that we need to make decisions ourselves, without depending on authority was also made by Kant but interestingly enough, Kant sees no reason to reject reason. In fact, reason was seen precisely as something done yourself, independend of authority.

"To achieve truth, we musn't mediate our choices through reason or anything else, but instead make a passionate leap of fate towards a decision. Choose from inwardness, from subjectivity."

I'll ignore the bizarre use of the word 'mediate' and reply to what this is probably supposed to mean. It was said that 'truth is subjectivity' earlier in the video. We could thus render this sentence as follows: "To achieve subjectivity, we musn't mediate our choices through reason or anything else, but instead make a passionate leap of fate towards a decision. Choose from inwardness, from subjectivity." This makes this whole sentence a hollow tautology. This leaves open the question why subjectivity would be a good thing. In any case, this is bascically saying that we should just do whatever without having any reason to do so. This simply makes no sense. When you act, you have a reason to act the way you do. If I ask somebody, "why are you doing this?" and the answer is "it's what I do" then we regard that as a facile answer but that is pretty much the answer that Kierkegaard recommends. This supposedly brings meaning to our lives by removing any reflection from it. If that is the 'subjectivity' you are looking for you don't want to make decisions. Acting without reflection is just an event that anything could undergo. The best way to achieve it is suicide.

"reason cannot provide a satisfactory answer to the question of gods existence and nature."

It can't give you a satisfying answer but that is because you want the wrong answer to be true.

"When faced with such things that are objectively uncertain, one must choose subjectively."

Oh dear. What does 'objectively uncertain' mean. The uncertainty is in the object? Are we doing quantum mechanics now or, more likely, was the word 'objective' just thrown in for no reason? And how does one choose subjectively. Ah, I remember, we just do whatever for no reason, like a chair falling over. I can hardly think of a more thourough betrayal of our subjectivity.

Captcha: wild and woolly.

See, Captcha gets it.

It sounds like Kierkegraard was just being an apologist for his own irrationality, finding meaning in the irrational and just throwing up the "faith" argument to the implications that existentialism brings up in regards to a "higher power".

Not that I adhere to rationality, the entire world is funneled through the subjective and anyone who thinks that ideas of legacy can apply to a species which rarely breaks a century in life span, calling any of the human condition "rational" is bordering on insanity.

Wow what a bunch of sour grapes.

It's amazing how quickly people will dismiss an argument that has anything to do with religion, whether it be someone who is religious or someone who merely suggest that religion isn't bad.

Pseudonym:
Speaking of meaning and the lack thereof. This video. You can only make so many categorical errors, use so many non-defined words, commit so many logical fallacies and say so many things which just plain make no sense before what you say becomes strictly meaningless. This video has well crossed that line and is now in the land of incoherent muttering. And no, copying the incoherent mutterings of Kierkegaard doesn't make it any better. And no, the fact that Kierkegaard responded to the incoherent mutterings of Hegel still doesn't help.

I'll just point out some of the many absurdities: The second sentence is: "For thousands of years, rationality has been considered the hallmark of truth, for through it the modern age has given us fast cars, instant food, advanced medicine immediate communication and epic giant robots."

The first problem with this can be grasped immediately by anyone with even the remotest understanding of history. Whatever happens in the modern age cannot be a reason or cause (which the word 'for' implies) of notions that have been around for thousands of years. Typically in philosophical discourse the early modern age is supposed to have started with Descartes (early to mid 17th century) and the modern age proper is supposed to have started with Kant (late 18th century). Now whenever the modern age started might vary depending on your point of view but I have never heard anyone claim it was anywhere before the fall of constantinople in 1453 which was not a thousand or more years ago. The reason people like Plato, Aristotle, Parmenides, the stoics and the like thought reason was a good thing had nothing to do with stuff we have gotten from it thousands of years later. Even in the modern age philosophers like Kant who like reason do not like it because it gives us stuff.

But such a blatand causal and historical absurdity isn't even the worst of it. For what does it mean to say 'rationality has been considered the hallmark of truth'. Truth is a property of propositions, sentences or thoughts (depending on which philosopher you ask) whereas rationality is a property of decisions, reasons or persons. How can rationality be the hallmark of truth? It is well recognised that completely irrational people might say true things once in a while or that you might believe something to be true for touroughly irrational reasons. Perhaps it is meant that rational thinking leads to true believes but even that is rather vague.

next up: "Sure, reason makes life more convenient but it doesn't give us what we really want, to live meaningful lives."

There is a reason why a significant part of philosophers scoff at the idea of 'the meaning of life'. That reason is because it isn't at all clear what it means for life to have 'meaning'. Words and sentences have meaning.

Then we get to the really incoherent part, as hard as it is to believe that we can get even more incoherent: "Truth cannot be mediated by society, science or authority, I must orient myself towards these things."

What does this mean? Mediation is between two things and it is completely unclear in which sense one of those things might be truth. The closest thing I've ever heard to people claiming truth is mediated by society is the relativistic claim that the truth of a belief depends on it being commonly held. If this is what the author is getting at it isn't clear in the slightest how he has managed to identify 'reason' with 'relativism'. Or, and this is what I believe, the author does not have the faintest clue what the word 'truth' means.

Lastly, the claim that we need to make decisions ourselves, without depending on authority was also made by Kant but interestingly enough, Kant sees no reason to reject reason. In fact, reason was seen precisely as something done yourself, independend of authority.

"To achieve truth, we musn't mediate our choices through reason or anything else, but instead make a passionate leap of fate towards a decision. Choose from inwardness, from subjectivity."

I'll ignore the bizarre use of the word 'mediate' and reply to what this is probably supposed to mean. It was said that 'truth is subjectivity' earlier in the video. We could thus render this sentence as follows: "To achieve subjectivity, we musn't mediate our choices through reason or anything else, but instead make a passionate leap of fate towards a decision. Choose from inwardness, from subjectivity." This makes this whole sentence a hollow tautology. This leaves open the question why subjectivity would be a good thing. In any case, this is bascically saying that we should just do whatever without having any reason to do so. This simply makes no sense. When you act, you have a reason to act the way you do. If I ask somebody, "why are you doing this?" and the answer is "it's what I do" then we regard that as a facile answer but that is pretty much the answer that Kierkegaard recommends. This supposedly brings meaning to our lives by removing any reflection from it. If that is the 'subjectivity' you are looking for you don't want to make decisions. Acting without reflection is just an event that anything could undergo. The best way to achieve it is suicide.

"reason cannot provide a satisfactory answer to the question of gods existence and nature."

It can't give you a satisfying answer but that is because you want the wrong answer to be true.

"When faced with such things that are objectively uncertain, one must choose subjectively."

Oh dear. What does 'objectively uncertain' mean. The uncertainty is in the object? Are we doing quantum mechanics now or, more likely, was the word 'objective' just thrown in for no reason? And how does one choose subjectively. Ah, I remember, we just do whatever for no reason, like a chair falling over. I can hardly think of a more thourough betrayal of our subjectivity.

Captcha: wild and woolly.

See, Captcha gets it.

History is linear, and is based on causality. A happened, therefore B began, which caused C. Nothing in human history happens in a vacuum, everything happens because something else happened.

The rational arguments that came about two thousand years after the Greek philosophers were still using some of the ideas of the Greek philosophers.

I don't think you can ask the question without rationality, so there is that, for starters. Further, having actually taken rationalism in college, I would say that it is VERY meaningful.

 

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