Sunday, December 7, 2008

Notes to myself on rationalism

  1. Rationalism's root word is ratio.

  2. Rationalism is not just a philosophical branch talked about amongst humans, but also can be thought of as the environs of semiotics. Ratios provide a perpetual disequilibrium in which all 'things' (ideas and tangibles) must co-habitate in a system of unequal relativism, that shifts and morphs those inequalities over time.

  3. The Boethian Wheel is a political/economic expression of this semiotic rational universe operating in constant perpetual disequilibrium.

  4. Is Pragmatism equivalent to Rationalism?

  5. Is American Pragmatism an economic, cultural embodiment of Rationalism?

  6. Is American Pragmatism so repugnant to ideologues because it operates with the dynamism of ratios?

  7. Perpetual disequilibrium and American Pragmatism does not necessarily have to equate to an evil, dystopic chaos.

  8. Ideologues, usually humanistic and religious or communistic, have 'made bank' in the 20th century by propagating derivatives of Rationalism as evil, and promoting a more static, safe but (in my opinion) untenable and unsafe economic culture ( this propaganda often reveres more primitive cultures such as Native Americans or European peasants ) .

  9. The core disease introduced by these ideologues has been irrationalism. Mysticism, which is impervious to facts (empiricism).

  10. Empiricism is the brake and steering wheel of Rationalism ( the one operating in the semiotic universe, managing the decline and ascendance of 'things' ). It is the feedback loop. Mysticism throws away the feedback loop. Mysticism creates within humans an ability to keep marching on in service to an idea even when facts are coming in showing the idea is a bad one.

  11. It is this quality of Mysticism that is driving the nihilism of Islamic terrorists and violent criminals.

  12. 'Religion' does not have to equate to 'Mysticism'. There is an ancient etymology in which Rationalism is the religion. See Logos. In his book, "Zero, the Biography of a Dangerous Idea." Charles Seife notes that the Greek word for 'ratio' was 'logos'. Thus the translation of John 1:1 reads: "In the beginning, there was the ratio, and the ratio was with God, and the ratio was God."


Brian said...

In the words of Chang Yin, contemporary Taipei shaman(ess) and channeler of dead but wise personalities, "You," sir, "think too much."

Maybe you already read Jonathan Adams' article in The New York Times today about 21st century shamans in Taiwan.

One of Yin's clients, a 40-year old man in the financial services field, explained: "In Taiwan, we think going to a psychologist feels a bit strange. A psychologist is just a person, but this is a god. I can say anything to a god, but I can't say everything to a psychologist."

I think he has you cornered there.

Adams reports that "the underlying beliefs that prevailed when Taiwan was a predominantly poor, rural society are surprisingly resilient," and that they "pragmatically switch among Taoist, Buddhist, folk and other beliefs and practices, depending on the situation."

It may be that the superstitious, like the poor, we will always have with us.

Brian said...

My response to a new acquaintence's question about the conflict between reason and postmodernism:

I didn't know anything about the conflict between the traditional and the postmodern by the end of my BA--at least not in explicit terms. Grad school really foregrounded the conflict for me.

"Traditionally, many philosophers, Aristotle among them, have considered the law of noncontradiction to be the deepest, most fundamental principle of rationality. To abandon that principle is to abandon reason itself" (18).

"This law...tells us that it is not possible for something to both be and not be...yet is has been rejected" (9).

"In postmodernist circles it is considered a mark of naivete to accept the law of noncontradiction" (9).

Fogelin, Robert. Walking the Tightrope of Reason. Oxford U Press, 2003.

Haha...I reject the notion that it is naive to believe in reason.

"Today's relativists, persuading themselves that all opinions enjoy the same standing in the light of reason, take it as a green light to believe what they like with as much conviction and force as they dogmatisms feed and flourish on the desecrated corpse of reason. Astrology, prophecy, homeopathy, Feng shui, conspiracy theories, flying saucers, voodoo, crystal balls, miracle-working...and a thousand other cults dominate people's minds" (xiv).

Blackburn, Simon. Truth. Oxford U Press, 2005.

That's probably more than you wanted. I am kind of fascinated by the debate (and I wonder why I'm fascinated by it). These two guys are philosophers, but a literary scholar who has taken a strong stand against antirationalists and postmodernists is Frederick Crews.

You're right about the importance of defining the terms, but it also seems that whatever terms are used there ends up being one big dividing line.