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The limitations of rationality

  1. A.Villarasa profile image78
    A.Villarasaposted 3 years ago

    Mahzarin Banaji,  the Cabot Professor of Social Ethics, Dept. of Psychology at Harvard University forwarded his candidate for "the most deeply satisfying explanation" of human nature,  the idea of bounded rationality. As he explains it :"The idea that human beings are smart compared to other species but not smart enough by their own standards, including behaving in line with basic axioms of rationality, is now a well-honed observation with a deep empirical foundation".... (sic)The reason we are boundedly  rational is because the information space in which we must do our work is large compared to the capacities we have, including severe limits on our conscious awareness and our ability to control our behavior and act in line with our own intentions."

    My conversation with atheists on Hub Pages, have been mostly colored by the fact that they put all their argumentative "eggs" (so to speak), in just one basket i.e.  their "rational" interpretation of the physical world unhinged from and untinged by God's existence. Now that the supremacy of that rationality has been questioned by empirical evidence, would atheists still use rationality as  their main weapon for arguing that God does not exist?

    1. aka-dj profile image79
      aka-djposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      I think they will. Every argument that shows atheism, (their) logic, or assertions they hold to, will get a response that (tries to) refute it.

      In other words, they will do whatever it takes, to prove they are right.

      In my years on these forums, I have yet to see one atheist concede on any points presented!

      That's just the nature of the beast, so to speak.

    2. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      1)  Can you define what you mean by a "rational interpretation of the physical world"?

      2)  No atheist with a grain of sense will claim there is no god, just as no theist with the same grain will claim there IS a god.  We don't know, and cannot know.

      The atheist thus does not need a weapon at all to make the claim there is no god as they don't make it.  And no weapon is needed to claim we don't know; the lack of knowledge itself makes the claim FOR them.

      1. A.Villarasa profile image78
        A.Villarasaposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        @wilderness:
        "Rational interpretation of the physical world"  relates to the  atheist's conception/perception that anything not informed via their 5 physical senses do not exist.  As most humans know, our 5 physical senses, are not  on their  own lonesone selves, sufficient  to interpret the reality of existence. The reality of existence is,  if  I must quote  the good professor again,  "large compared to the capacities we have,  including severe limits on our conscious awareness..."

        Your second paragraph belies the fact that atheists  including you, have stated  bluntly in various forums  on HubPages,  that there is NO God, an entity that your cohorts  have so derisively labeled, "your Big Magical Daddy in the sky". For you to now say that no atheist worth his salt can ever  claim that there is NO GOD, is discombobulation of the highest order.

        1. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Again, only a major fool thinks everything is detectably by our 5 senses.  UV light, for instance, or IR light is not.  Microwaves are not, radio waves are not.  The huge majority of planets are not and bacteria is not.  Atoms are not.

          Only a fool thinks they can see and feel everything.

          Atheism vs agnosticism:  I used to consider myself an agnostic - I don't know if there is a god.  Lately, I have been informed that the correct term is "atheist" for that stance, as well as for there being no god.  In an effort to conform to accepted use of the word, I use "atheism" to include what I used to call "agnostic".  Hope that clears it up; a matter of semantics where I try to fit in to what other people understand.

          1. A.Villarasa profile image78
            A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            @Wilderness:
            Thanks for the above factoid. As clarification goes, yours seems a bit strained.

        2. janesix profile image61
          janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          A smart atheist will understand that "the five senses" are just that, five senses. They know that other senses are possible (like a bat has senses we don't have, that some animals might be able to detect things like magnetic forces, that humans can't)

    3. psycheskinner profile image80
      psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      I fail to see how this theory speaks to religion at all.  Most people I know deal with physical reality in a largely rational rather than irrational way. What is the alternative?

      1. A.Villarasa profile image78
        A.Villarasaposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        @Psyche:
        You fail to get the gist of what the professor is saying. He is not at all implying that just because we could not rely at all times for our rationality to be our  "crutch" when it comes to helping us decide what is and what is not the best choice given multiple options/scenarios  i.e. belief and non-belief in God, that we should then act or approach those decisions irrationally.
        In those situations when rational/logical percolation falls short, then perhaps instinct/intuition/introspection/imagination/humiliation (ego-less)   thrown into the mix could make the water less muddy and more transparent, so to speak.

        1. psycheskinner profile image80
          psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Well we also know that a vast amount of our behavior is determined by processes not subject to conscious rational thought.  Implicit learning, Pavlovian conditioning, intuition is rampant.

          But again, what has this to do whether whether one's intuition is that God exists, or that He does not?  Theists are not more intuitive than atheist.  They just intuit different things.

          I intuit based on what I see, for example that evolution produced the various forms of life on earth.  Others are not willing to draw that conclusion but prefer to stick to a literal reading of a specific book to explain this outcome.  Are they innately flawed human beings as a result?

          1. A.Villarasa profile image78
            A.Villarasaposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            @Psyche:
            The choices you make is what defines you... and  we have agreed those choices could not be made via rationality alone.
            You asked "what has this to do whether one's intuition is that God exist, or that He does not exist". A lot..... for if one intuited that  God(Creator) exist then  one is more predisposed to approaching one's existence (and the choices one makes in that existence) via the prism  not merely of the physical but most importantly of the spiritual.
            Evolutionary life  (natural selection and all that entails)  is a fact. The Bible (parts of it anyway) , as I have always argued,  could not and should not be interpreted literally but metaphorically. So does it really matter if God created humans in one quick swoop or in various stages of development that accrued well enough to the laws of nature that he so  mandated be operative on earth? I don't think so. But atheism totally eliminates God from that equation... something that I could not countenance doing..... instinctively, intuitively, introspectively, imaginatively.

        2. Righteous Atheist profile image61
          Righteous Atheistposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Methinks you have misunderstood the article completely. And the professor is a She. wink

          1. psycheskinner profile image80
            psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            In the absence of fact checking one can only intuit the gender... wink

          2. A.Villarasa profile image78
            A.Villarasaposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            @RA:
            Does it interest me much whether the professor is a he or a she? Not really.
            Try sticking to the point you're making and  define for me why I misunderstood the article completely...if you have read  his/her essay at all.

            1. Righteous Atheist profile image61
              Righteous Atheistposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              It should interest you as to who it is you are quoting as an authority on something. But - I am not surprised that you don't care who wrote the article you are using to argue your irrational belief in a Majikal Invisible Super Being in the Sky. sad

              Still - I suggest you actually read it instead of cherry picking something that appears to have zero bearing on whether there is a god or not. Nor does it suggest that believing in majick is a suitable replacement for rationality. wink

              1. psycheskinner profile image80
                psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                The Havard educated academic is certainly not saying beliefs ever replace rationality.  Only that much of what we do is under the control of grey reasoning rather than objective logic.  Which is undeniably the case and not a statement about the virtues of what our specific  assumptions and intuitions should be.

              2. A.Villarasa profile image78
                A.Villarasaposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                @RA: The professor's essay was included in a book of essays written by empiricists in various fields of scientific  endeavor. The book is titled: "This Explains Everything" edited by  John Brockman. You might want to google these two characters. You might fin them infinitely interesting.

                1. psycheskinner profile image80
                  psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  If the scientists gender is irrelevant, what makes these "interesting" things relevant.

                  The essay itself says nothing pertinent to religion or religiosity and is neutral on which is better or more natural.  Nor does it have any obvious corollaries in that realm.

                  1. A.Villarasa profile image78
                    A.Villarasaposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    @Psych: I did not in any way manner, shape or form imply that the professor's article was "pertinent to religion or religiosity". Her only  point was we could never rely on rationality alone in making decisions/choices. And my point was we do all kinds of choices in our daily lives, one of which is whether to believe or not to  believe that God exist. I am connecting the two points by arguing that rationality alone could not be used as the only basis for making the decision to be a believer or unbeliever. Certainly, connecting those two dots are within the purview of making choices.... one that I chose to make when I posted the OP.

                    From the point of view of this discussion, does it matter much if the professor was male or female? I don't think so, thus your statement "if the scientist's  gender is irrelevant, what makes these "interesting" things relevant"  is just an exercise in word play.

                2. Righteous Atheist profile image61
                  Righteous Atheistposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  What makes you say that? Clearly you did not bother reading them - just saw quote that sounded like it might be something to start another attack on people who use their minds to come to reasonable and rational decisions.

                  Why do you hate atheists so much?

                  1. A.Villarasa profile image78
                    A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                    @RA:
                    I don't hate atheists. Wherever did you get that impression from?  And whoever gave you that impression, I can only say, must be self-delusional.

                    I have always thought that  atheism and its close cousin secularism are ideological systems that are counterintuitive in their formulation and predisposition. Additionally,  the aggressiveness with which the "neo-atheists" (as some have labeled them i.e. Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens ,God Bless his soul)  have pushed their agenda into the general body politic  made a lot of folks conclude that  these prophets are also pushing(unwittingly) their ideology into the umbrella of "The Law of Unintended Consequences".

                    One of the unintended consequences of this aggressive push is the perception/conclusion of most reasonable and rational people that instead  of degrading and devolving religious beliefs, these nihilistic prophets have made faith stronger in people who has it, and more attractive to those who don't have it but are searching for a spiritual undergirding in their lives.

                    Religious belief will continue to enrich people's lives, as it has enriched people's lives in the past...because this belief in God, is the basic underpinning of the purpose/meaning of our existence.

                    Which purpose and meaning are those  you might ask. Simply stated, we are here to be witnesses to God's creation, and as such we are allowed, because He has given us the cerebral capacity to do so, to unravel the perplexities and complexities of that creation.

            2. psycheskinner profile image80
              psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              Does it interest you to have your sentence about the scientist be accurate? Our attitudes to the small things often echoes our attitude to the large.

        3. janesix profile image61
          janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          You have to choose either/or.

          There is no in between. It's either rational or intuitive. Believe me, I've tried the route of both at the same time. Doesn't work.

          There is no sense in intuition (in it's purest sense). It is la la land thinking. If you want reality, you have to face reality on it's own terms. Which is a rational view. Those who don't, aren't going to be able to face reality. It really is that simple.

          Anything goes in la la land. It's not always a great place to be.

          I choose rationality, although it is foreign to me. But it can be learned.

          1. A.Villarasa profile image78
            A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            It is never intuition against rationality... it is always rationality supplemented by intuition, instinct(gut feelings), imagination, introspection and  modified by humility (absence of EGO), that we make our decisions  on the bigger issues. Now I have always thought that one should never sweat the smaller issues/decisions.

            1. janesix profile image61
              janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              Maybe it's ok for normal people. Not for me.

              1. wilderness profile image95
                wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                I don't know - intuition, gut feelings, imagination, etc. can all be useful in supplying possible answers.  It is, however, up to rationality to then decide which answer is best, and all those other facets of the mind need to be left behind.

    4. EncephaloiDead profile image59
      EncephaloiDeadposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Attacking rational thought? That's desperate.

      It would show that believers can no longer argue in favor of their gods existence when they are forced to attacking how are brains work. Of course, it would be hypocritical to attack rational thought if the person attacking it ever used it in their lives, and we can assume they probably do. If not, and their entire lives are based on irrational thought, what does that say about their arguments here?

      1. A.Villarasa profile image78
        A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        @Encephalo:
        Again you are totally missing the point of the entire conversation. Rationality obviously is the most important tool in helping us  make decisions in our daily lives, but we should never rely on it solely. As I have said it here and other forums....rationality should be complemented/supplemented by other meaningful tools in our disposal...i.e. intuition, instinct, imagination, introspection and  non-egoism.

        1. janesix profile image61
          janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          There might not be any real thing called gut instinct, when it comes to decision-making. Studies have been shown that it is more of a matter of having easy access to certain memories of skill you already have. A chess champion doesn't have a good instinct for the game, their brain takes up more space than usual (and in unexpected places, such as the visual cortex) than a non-champion. The non champion will have to actually think and reason, while the champion only has to access already-learned patterns of moves.

          EDIT:
          It's called "chunking" and anyone can do it. You just learn patterns of common things in your field or skill set.

    5. tsmog profile image85
      tsmogposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Sharing firstly I have not read the essay. I see he is a professor of ethics. Ethics is philosophical and it is social - ethics regards persons and not a person with the conflicts of right and wrong. Moral is of the person.

      Help me to understand if you might. Is not behavior a product of learned - social and experienced? Empirical is of experience and rational is of reasoning. "Deep empirical foundation," in my humble view is it seems to say on the surface empirical with 'behaving' occurs before rational, thus "a deep empirical foundation"? It is.

      Or,we experience first then reason regarding in this case ethics representing a product of behavior and presenting subsequent behavior(s), more so socially. The obvious for me of least is there cannot be 'smart' without reasoning. I cannot make a connection to God with a discussion as there is not a connection with the information provided by the professor or I missed seeing it.

      Respecting the atheist view, again a personal perspective, is the position honors both empirical and rational. After all any 'science' demands both, while philosophy does not. That leads to 'acceptance' for any argument of a belief followed with a trust of and a faith in or of.

      A belief is formed with acceptance alongside trust and faith. An atheist does not have a belief of God as there is not acceptance, although they do have belief - science and philosophy. They do accept and trust with faith, therefore belief is more or less tossed out of the debate regarding God as existing.

      Statement: God 'may' in fact exist? An agnositc with argument acknowledges not God, but 'may'. An atheist denies 'may' and substitutes 'does not'. Simply, no matter a why, there is 'not' acceptance. Again, in my humble view that is conducive of behavior while not of behavior alone. Acceptance is a rational process being a choice and that is personal, although at times influenced and/or a result of persuasion.

      Again, a humble view, is an atheist does not believe of (there is) a God or there is not 'acceptance' first for God as a known. God cannot be Knower with an atheist since it simply is not a known. Therefore, biblical (or Holy scriptures) debates are useless as it is faith based evidence and trust with it as a source. It is a one sided argument of the believer accepting God seeking convincing them self, not the atheist or agnostic. Unless empirical and rational is discovered with those sources (Holy scriptures).

      An argument  for God with an atheist or an agnositic with either of those - faith or trust, can only take place as a 'hypothetical' with or without God as a known by being a  given with seeking a 'truth'. More than likely a convincing argument is by both - with and without God, and a truth is revealed or discovered as one verifies while offering validity.   

      It's primary is acceptance. Atheist accept science - empirical (experience and experiencing) and/or rational (Logic and mathematics) for explaining life and its nuances (from my understanding, which is open to correction with regard of acceptance). Both empirical and rational may be used to explain behavior after all there is the science of psychology and social psychology verifying that and presenting it as valid. Therefore, I see what the statement provided as shared is of regard with behavior and not a connection for convincing God as existing.

      1. A.Villarasa profile image78
        A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        @tsmog:
        So sorry that my typically linear mind could not follow the many twists and turns in your post, that I just got lost in the maze and haze.

        I seem to perceive that you are trying to make a point, but that point was also lost in the maze and haze.

        1. tsmog profile image85
          tsmogposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          oh well smile

    6. janesix profile image61
      janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      I don't see that rationality is itself in question.

      Just our human ability to use it properly.

 
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