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  1. Jul 12, 2003 #1
    [SOLVED] irrationality

    How would you explain irrational human action in an empirical sense? If we say that rationality would be making decisions in the best interest of survival, then irrationality would be making decisions that adversely affect survival. Yet if in an empirical sense there is no extrinsic value to human life, how can we apply value to human action? (How can we say what is rational and irrational?) Empiricism is only concerned with sensory data and prediction and discovering true statements or theories. It just says "here is life" and takes a look at what it's doing. So how can it say "this action x is irrational"?? There HAS to be an underlying ethics or morality regarding human action - some kind of system of interpretation regarding action. That's what law is in our society - but how do you look at law from an empiricist perspective?

    I guess this question is related to my readings of Nietzsche. When I'm reading Nietzsche, I find many truths that come across only with intense meditation. As in there are truths which are obvious from just glancing at them, such as 2+2=4, and there are truths that require an intense psychological workout, such as "the high spirits of kindness may look like malice". Maybe that's why so many people like Nietzsche, because he gives you short sentences and makes you follow the logical progression mentally in order to have the statement make sense.
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  3. Jul 12, 2003 #2
    Have you seen my thread on What is Irrational? Which speaks of the nature of belief and who determines whether it's rational or not. For example, many people in this forum can't conceive of a belief in God, religion, etc., as anything but irrational. But who's to say one can't believe in religion in the "rational sense?" Whereas how do we go about explaining what was once deemed a completely rational statement such as "the earth is flat?"

    And, now that the tables have turned, and science has become fully established, and pretty much "rules the day," is it really up to science to say that it's irrational to believe in God? ... We should live so long!
  4. Jul 12, 2003 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    Considering that by definition science has nothing to say about the existence of God, it is strange that so many attempt to use science to kill God. This is irrational behavior since the argument violates the very precepts of its origin.
  5. Jul 12, 2003 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    I've never read Nietzsche. Can you give me a little more to go on? I am not feeling the rush of enlightenment, but the statement is tantalizing. You may create a Nietzscheien here.
  6. Jul 12, 2003 #5
    Pantheists can be emperical rationalists. Emperically we exist and are a part of nature, thus you can apply pantheistic ethics based on the egalitarian principle that everything is equally sacred or necessary for existence and based on our feelings. Relational Frame Theory provides a very pantheistic framework for also emperically bridging the congnitive and behavioral sciences to place the irrational within a scientific framework.

    Nietzsche's writings are vague and obscure by all accounts, but what they really call into question imo is the circumscribed traditional western views of rationality.
  7. Jul 12, 2003 #6
    I would explain irrational human behavior as not being congruent with our own primarily, that's why it seems irrational, but if you can get into the other person's head it seems that all behavior is with intent rational, but it's all relative rationalness and one would really have to spend some time practicing or observing that behavior to get a good understanding of the rationality of it, I'm sure there is some rationality to acting like a jackass, but doing it all the time would likely be irrational or make things worse. I can't read more than a few pages of Nietzsche per month, he is too pessimistic for my taste, Bacon is more agreeable to me but then that's probably just because my own views are more similiar to Bacon's than Nietzsche's so I assume Bacon is the better philosopher otherwise my own views might be faulty.
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