Sunday, December 13, 2009

Am I ir-rational?

I previously posted about how the meaning of the word fundamentalism has changed significantly from its origins.

I contend that in everyday useage and public discourse the adjectives "rational" and "irrational" are used in a manner that is inconsistent with their meaning. They seem to be largely used as labels to affirm or ridicule particular opinions. This is particularly true in the "new atheism" where it seems that the claim "faith is irrational" is usually taken more as an assumption that is not worth discussing because it is so obviously self-evident.

When am I "rational"? I would say if I clearly state my assumptions and the evidence for them and then carefully consider the logical implications of them. Furthermore, I need to be open to changing those assumptions or having my reason corrected if it is in error.

When am I "irrational"? If I am unwilling to acknowledge my assumptions or debate the basis for them. If I am unwilling to consider the possibility of errors in my reasoning. If personal experience and emotions drive my assumptions and arguments.

There are many subtle issues here. I just hope this posts may help us all think twice before we apply the label "rational" or "irrational".

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