Post Reply 
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
How reasonable is reason?
07-06-2009, 09:52 PM
Post: #1
How reasonable is reason?
(07-06-2009 06:51 PM)niapri Wrote:  ...reason is reasonable "if it can make accurate predictions about things or events that have not yet been discovered, or have not yet occurred"...show me an instance in which my reason/reasoning is false...

If reason were so useful you should base most if not all of your decisions on the basis of carefully considered reason. But you don't do this, you can't do this--or if you could you wouldn't be fully human. Often you make decisions according to intuition, instinct, honor, aesthetics, hunch, habit, flash of inspiration, stubbornness, contrariness, faith, hope, love, hate, fear, greed, reverence, duty, desire, moral principle, or even casual whim.

It's the "Kirk vs. Spock" polarity or tension. If we were to successfully eliminate every decision-making method other than "reason," we would become robots--and we most certainly don't want to think of ourselves as robots. The greatest people in history typically accomplished their most distinguished feats by going against the grain of reason and swimming upstream from the commom wisdom of their context. Human history would be much poorer if everyone had always done the ordinary, the predictable, the reasonable.

So how does "reason" come to any "rational" decision regarding the optimum distribution or balance of all of these various and competing ways in which we humans supposedly make our decisions? According to Hawking, all arguments of reason necessarily begin with at least some "arbitrary elements" or unprovable assumptions. How do we decide, on the basis of reason alone, whose unprovable assumptions we should start with?

http://www.biblicaltraining.org/ --- http://www.ntwrightpage.com/
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
07-07-2009, 12:45 AM
Post: #2
RE: How reasonable is reason?
Interesting you should bring up Kirk vs. Spock. The whole reason the Kirk/Spock/McCoy dynamic worked is because each were a polar exaggeration of qualities (will, logic, and emotions), that should work in tandem.

Every decision I make is based on carefully considered reason, but that doesn't mean there's not emotion in it as well. For instance, I want to be happy. What makes me happy? And then from there we work logically and rationally to create a plan of action. This is what a healthy person does. A successful healthy person actually acknowledges the logic part of their decision-making and encourages it.

So, you're wrong about reason internally (but of course you know that. I mentioned in my post that explains how you are deceptive that you used to argue for reason, until the atheists on this board showed that reason and rationality supported atheism.)

But we're not talking about internal systems. We're talking about observation of the universe. We're talking about scientific study. And in these cases, emotion doesn't enter into it. Emotion is what causes all the presuppositions and biases that a good scientist will seek to ruthlessly quash, so that they can be left with the pure reason of the facts.

I'm back baby! Thanks for everyone who sent me PMs asking what had happened to me.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
07-07-2009, 03:23 AM (This post was last modified: 07-07-2009 03:23 AM by niapri.)
Post: #3
RE: How reasonable is reason?
Note: This is probably all completely irrelevant unless, as I understand it, by ration, Stereophonic means any of these definitions:

"2. a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action.
3. the mental powers concerned with forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences.
4. sound judgment; good sense.".

BUT if you mean definintion #3, then your

Disclaimer: This is all based on my understanding of the strange amalgam of psychology, biology, history, philosophy, theology, and what little logic I've gotten into my head over the past 20 years. If I'm wrong about something, feel free to correct me. I'm not afraid of being wrong, though - I'll just adjust my theories as needed. So, here goes. Smile

@Stereophonic:

Your actual question doesn't make much sense, but I want to address a few things in your lead-in. If you're asking how we make decisions while balancing out so many motivations for deciding things, I don't see your point - we just do. Negotiating all those things - love, hate, fear, greed, instinct - is a part of being human.

But I think you're also asking how we decide that our human capacity to reason is a sound basis on which to make decisions and bring us to true conclusions. If that's what you're asking, then give me some alternative: am I supposed to take it on faith that there's a supreme, being that's pulling the strings

If you're referring to things such as an experimenter determining that prayer doesn't affect the outcome of a severe illness, you're really, really being too vague. I'd almost suspect you of deliberately trying to confuse me so that I can waffle in response to your vague argument and then you can sucker punch me with the claim like, "the math of probablility isn't based on anything, so saying the success of prayer is random doesn't MEAN anything". But, to address that issue, since it is an interesting one: we can explain things perfectly well without claiming "god did it". Why should we assume a god is doing things like making miracles when there are other, perfectly good explanations for the things that happen? If that is something you're interested in, I've got a really fun theory on why there is life on Earth. Ask me about it sometime.

And if you're asking how we can possibly make decisions about what is true about the world and/or universe, or even decisions about what to do on a daily basis, I go into it in my answer in the next post (this reply was so long that apparently I can't put it all in one post).
1. You're right: just because something makes sense doesn't make it true.

But I think you're absolutely wrong about there being some polarity between robotic reason and emotion/instinct/honor/the others - except for faith. In that case, I have to say that they are diametrically opposed. When reason and faith are in opposition, faith is in blind, senseless denial of reason. It's the equivalent of covering your ears and saying, "La-la-la, I can't hear you."

As for all the others? They work perfectly well right alongside reason, as I explain next. For the ones like contrariness, love, and honor which don't fall into my heuristics suggestion, you're exactly right. We do make decisions according to them, but you'll have to explain to me how those have anything to do with reason.

2. Other decision-making processes we have are very good at leading us to make, if not the objectively, "rationally" correct choice (though the concept of a "correct" choice is arguable to begin with), one that has a good chance of being right, or at least good for us.

These are called heuristics, which are general rules of thumb we unconsciously follow which are deeply ingrained in the brains of our species. These can be perceived as intuition, instinct, and all the others at various times. THIS is where emotion comes in. Emotion, especially happiness and anger, drive us to use heuristics. It's like automatic pilot for quick decision-making.

For example, take the availability heuristic, which basically says that we use things easily recalled to determine our reactions and our future behavior. We use this all the time to make decisions on what is safe to do. The easiest example is one that has to do with people: we decide whether a person is likely to do a particular thing (like rob a store) based on how easily we can recall (or even just imagine) them doing that thing. This has evolutionary implications - those people who react strongly and quickly when they, say, have a feeling there's going to be a robbery, are more likely to survive. We've evolved the ability to make reasonable decisions WITHOUT thinking about it. All YOU know when you bolt from the store is that you wanted to leave when you saw a scruffy-looking guy in a dirty hoodie with his hands in his pocket, standing still and watching the cashier closely. What happened is that the availability heuristic kicked in and triggered your memories of what a thief/dangerous person looks like - this rings alarm bells and dumps adrenaline into your system. You decide flight is safer than fight.

That's not instinct or intuition - that's a highly-evolved brain at its best.

And people are pretty good, though not perfect, in predicting what other people will do, without ever employing such cumbersome reason as we see employed in laboratories. (It's at insight about the SELF that we suck at.)

In other words, we don't NEED to be completely, empirically, robotically reasoned in order to trust the reasonable-ness(not a word, I know) of our decisions and conclusions - it's inherent in the way we think as a species. Our own minds are full of safeguards protecting us against needing to constantly, empirically examine things before we decide something, while still allowing us to come to very rational decisions.
3. You link to a Wikipedia article on scientific theory from your term "arbitrary elements". This makes it painfully obvious that you know nothing about the subject. Scientific theory is not arbitrary. You're confusing the scientific term "theory" with the way we use it in common language. A scientific theory was once a hypothesis, which has, over time and across repeated trials, proved to adequately explain something about the world or about humans. More than that, a true theory is one that can be used to accurately predict future occurrences.

Another aspect of a theory, and even of a hypothesis, is that is capable of being disproven. Nothing is provable, in the sense that you seem to mean it. To claim that you have proven something is to affirm the consequent - a logical fallacy that we're all terribly prone to committing. Even the longest, most empirically supported theories are

And to be honest, nothing determines what HYPOTHESES we should start with. It's close to trial and error at first, with our base assumption being that the hypothesis is wrong. It's because we come at research with this mindset that we can say with some certainty when a hypothesis is right, and after that, when it is something we can trust to be true for the forseeable future - a theory.

This is where reason applies at the highest level we know so far.


4. Because of all this, we have to limit the definition of reason. It's NOT a decision-making process for everyday life, but a way to come to conclusions about the world and how it works. This allows us to make rational decisions without requiring each person individually rationalize each and every decision they make. I don't have to wonder what would happen if I jump off a roof, because there is a THEORY (gravity) that was reached by RATIONAL thought that led to increased understanding about the universe - which I borrow, because this THEORY has made accurate predictions in the past.

5. I'm not sure if I understand what you mean by "unprovable assumptions", so correct me if I'm wrong. If you're referring to, say, evolution vs. creationism, then you're absolutely confused about what science is and how it works. Honestly, I'm only qualified to speak specifically about psychology, so I'll keep it general.

In science, you do start with guesses. The thing is, you start with ALL of them - you don't pick and choose. Depending on what research is already out there, they can be either educated guesses or just plausible-sounding explanations. For each guess, or hypothesis, you have to ask, "If X were true, what would I expect to find?" - for EACH hypothesis. Even religious/supernatural ones. Where you go from there is wherever the evidence leads you. If the details you turn up are exactly what you expected for Y when you were hoping to find X, then YOU DEFER TO Y, no matter the conclusion you were hoping for.

Say you're testing a cancer treatment that's supposed to reduce the size of the tumor. If, after the treatment is given, there's no reduction in the tumor size, then you have no choice but to conclude that the treatment doesn't work - your hypothesis (that treatment shrinks the tumor) is false.

That's how it works - when it's appropriate, we use this level of reasoning to make decisions, such as the decision to disbelieve in god. When it's not, we use much looser reason, heuristics, or any number of the other things you mentioned.

Additional disclaimer: This post was completed at 3 in the morning. If anything doesn't make sense, chalk it up to exhaustion and ask me to explain it further.

"I'm the world's least happy atheist. I miss having religious faith, but trying to have it seems like trying to be in love with someone that you're not in love with." -- Lisa Williams
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
07-07-2009, 05:16 AM (This post was last modified: 07-07-2009 08:05 AM by Stereophonic.)
Post: #4
RE: How reasonable is reason?
(07-07-2009 03:23 AM)niapri Wrote:  ...You link to a Wikipedia article on scientific theory from your term "arbitrary elements". This makes it painfully obvious that you know nothing about the subject...

Now Niapri, is it reasonable to adopt a scornful attitude toward someone or something, and to make false statements about someone or something, simply because you have not read carefully enough or thought deeply enough? Where does such hostility come from?

From the Wikipedia article, which you apparently did not read:
Quote:Arguments or theories always begin with some premises—"arbitrary elements" as Hawking calls them...which are here described as "assumptions". An assumption...is...something accepted without proof, and it is incorrect to speak of an assumption as either true or false, since there is no way of proving it to be either (If there were, it would no longer be an assumption)...it seems obvious that assumptions are the weak points in any argument, as they have to be accepted on faith in a philosophy of science that prides itself on its rationalism...

Should we just chalk up the hostility to your exhaustion? If so, once you've rested up a bit please let us know how the views of Hawking and Asimov might modify or refine or inform the thoughts you expressed regarding reason.

(P.S. you probably already know this, but just in case you don't here's a little hint. When you go to a linked page, you can choose your browser's option to "view source." From there, you can select "Edit, Find" and then type in something such as "arbitrary elements." If those words are part of the text of the page, you will be able to find all occurrences of those words. This little feature can be a great help if you don't have time to read the entire page right then and there.)

http://www.biblicaltraining.org/ --- http://www.ntwrightpage.com/
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
07-07-2009, 08:46 AM
Post: #5
RE: How reasonable is reason?
Niapri made a huge post, very insightful and full of more information than I knew, a post that I learned from and you should have as well since you obviously don't know what you're talking about . . . and from it, all you can respond to is his criticism of your Wikipedia link?

I'm going to assume, then, that you completely agreed with everything else in the post.

I'm back baby! Thanks for everyone who sent me PMs asking what had happened to me.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
07-07-2009, 09:04 AM (This post was last modified: 07-07-2009 09:10 AM by Stereophonic.)
Post: #6
RE: How reasonable is reason?
(07-07-2009 08:46 AM)GTseng3 Wrote:  ...I'm going to assume, then, that you completely agreed with everything else in the post...

Obviously you're free to make that decision, even though it refutes your previous (and preposterous) claim that "Every decision I [GT] make is based on carefully considered reason" (and note that Niapri's post refutes your silly claim as well).

But anyway, although I do agree with much of her post, neither she nor you have addressed my question: "How do we decide, on the basis of reason alone, whose unprovable assumptions we should start with?"

http://www.biblicaltraining.org/ --- http://www.ntwrightpage.com/
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
07-07-2009, 09:12 AM
Post: #7
RE: How reasonable is reason?
It's a false question. The ideal is to remove all unprovable assumptions. While this is difficult, if not impossible, you can make the best effort. Ultimately it does not matter which unprovable assumptions you start with, they will dilute your understanding of the truth.

The best would be to identify all your assumptions, look at the problem, then alter your assumptions and look at the problem again. But again, if you could identify all your assumptions you could get rid of them all. But it's best to strive for that ideal.

I'm back baby! Thanks for everyone who sent me PMs asking what had happened to me.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
07-07-2009, 09:34 AM (This post was last modified: 07-07-2009 09:37 AM by Stereophonic.)
Post: #8
RE: How reasonable is reason?
(07-07-2009 09:12 AM)GTseng3 Wrote:  ...The ideal is to remove all unprovable assumptions...

Evidently you disagree with Hawkins and Asimov on this. According to them, you can't have a scientific argument without any unprovable assumptions or arbitrary elements.

http://www.biblicaltraining.org/ --- http://www.ntwrightpage.com/
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
07-07-2009, 10:13 AM
Post: #9
RE: How reasonable is reason?
That is a gross misinterpretation of both Hawking and Asimov. Which, of course, I've come to expect from you.

Asimov's brand of atheism is actually very similar to mine. He was a rationalist, he believes in looking at things rationally, reasonably, and logically, and then making conclusions based on that logic. He originally called himself an agnostic, until he realized that people like you were using that to misrepresent his beliefs (which, like mine, was that there almost certainly was no god, but though there was vast evidence to support that there was no conclusive proof). So he started calling himself an atheist.

Hawking's whole career has been built on shattering assumptions by showing that different theories fit the facts better. The "unprovable assumptions" they speak of have nothing to do with your misleading fantasy world of no reason.

And again, may I reiterate that YOU YOURSELF used to argue for reason, rather than emotion, being used to debate, until you realized that the atheists (and the theists for that matter) on this list were far too clever to buy your deception that reason led only to theism.

I'm back baby! Thanks for everyone who sent me PMs asking what had happened to me.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
07-07-2009, 10:31 AM
Post: #10
RE: How reasonable is reason?
(07-07-2009 10:13 AM)GTseng3 Wrote:  That is a gross misinterpretation of both Hawking and Asimov. Which, of course, I've come to expect from you...

Apparently you and Niapri share the same habit of adopting a scornful attitude toward someone or something, and making false statements about someone or something, simply because you have not read carefully enough or thought deeply enough.

Or perhaps you are both just exhausted. Both of you exhausted at the same time. For the same reason. Resulting in the same unreasoned animosity. Coincidence?

http://www.biblicaltraining.org/ --- http://www.ntwrightpage.com/
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply 


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread: Author Replies: Views: Last Post
  Reason for God/Reason for no azurescen 98 5,428 01-04-2013 09:22 PM
Last Post: EqualAtheist



User(s) browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)