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Is rationalism a kind of relligion ?

  1. May 25, 2007 #1
    Looking into wikipedias explanation of what philosophy is, I can see that Philosophy is about dealing with the more important questions in life, like ethics, who and what you are and etc.


    When wikipedia then try to tell about the ideas of philosophy it does not tell so much about the philosophy itself, what is important in life, but it rather tell the history of philosophy, about what people used to believe before.

    I can see that there is there is is a list of different historical directions in philosophy, like Rationalism, Empiricism, Skepticism, Idealism, Pragmatism, Instrumentalism, Phenomenology, Existentialism, etc, etc.

    It's obvoius that all these "ism's" does not agree on everything, and that they might contradict each other, or is it ?

    How can I know which one to choose, and which one is the right one ?

    As the development for philosophy and philosophical traditions have moved on for some time, should'nt it soon be time for some conclusions ?

    Could it be as easy as the newest "brand of philosophy" will allways be be best and the most suitable one, as this one has all the other historical steps of development behind it ?

    What if I did not like to see it this way, and I rather like to see it this way:

    I like mathematics and physics, and I have my belief in these diciplines, so I think I pick out "rationalism" as my "brand of philosophy", as I think it might be a little bit old one, but still a good one.

    Will then rationalism be my kind of relligion, something I believe in, wether is it reasonable or not, or is there some reasonable arguments that can prove that that all things in this world can be understood while applying "rationalism".

    What about all the other "-ism's", does they have som clear prooves and clear arguments that they are the right way of looking at the world ?

    So is then like that the choice of rationalism, or any other -ism will be like a choice of "relligion" or "belief", "superstition", or what ever you would like to call it ?

    Could "rationalism" be a kind of historical or possibly modern "superstition" ?

    Why can't just anyone work out some "The final conclusions of philosophy" or "The user manual of human life."

    Why not ? Should'nt it be a good thing for anyone to have an easy readable overview of all important questions of life ?

    Should'nt also "pure reason lead to pure wisdom" ?

    Should'nt it be easy as that ?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 25, 2007 #2
    A lot of the questions you ask are similar to my criticisms of the modern discipline of philosophy. And the reason I won't be doing a major in it (poli sci).

    I have a couple of things to say:
    I think this is a mistake that a lot of people make these days. Rationalism has nothing to do with science. I don't mean to say that they are contradictory, but separate. There is no epistemological school of thought that co-insides with science, because they are simply different areas of study. It's like saying "I like Cake, so I should choose to believe in Christianity" It's non-sequitur.

    Rationalism is the philosophy that takes place within a distinction between two ways of attaining knowledge, the rational method, and the empirical method. Rationalism is the philosophy that only knowledge derived from the rational method can be true. Without getting into my criticisms of rationalism as a whole, while math is said to be purely rational (though I disagree), the physical sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology are clearly empirical in nature. And modern science, as a whole, operates on a synthesis between both methods.

    But like I said before, it's a completely different subject from science, it's Cake and Christianity.

    I think Wikipedia might not be the best place to start your study of philosophy.

    Unfortunately that's what modern philosophy is mostly like. Your not the first one to find it strange that you only study newton in the history of science, or mercantilism in the history of economics, but in philosophy you study Aristotle and Plato directly.
  4. May 25, 2007 #3
    Certainly it is not. Possible most articles and books about philosophy will not be the best place to start ones study of philosophy.

    One the other hand Wikipedia will be a ok place to find some basic terms and definitions that people might agree on, when trying to do some philosophy.

    By the way, should'nt allways the target for stydying philosophy be to do some philosophy ?

    As I would see it it is with "philosophic design" like other "design", the use of "standard parts" will allways simplify the design.
  5. May 25, 2007 #4
    It could'nt be that rationalism has borrowed some some small trix and ideas from science and that there might be some historical connections on how science and tecnhnology has developed and how philosophy has developed, so that western philosophy from time to time has been some how influenced by what one could call "technical thinking" ?

    Could it also be that there might be an connection of how modern science have changed the relatively latest years and then how ideas of philosophy also has changed ?

    If that should be true, and if changes in sciences and technology has had influence on philosophy what will then be the the possition of science in our culture ?
  6. May 25, 2007 #5


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    It's your decision whether to believe something religiously or not, but "rationalism" per se prescribes no set of doctrines for one to believe in. It is simply a method of inquiry whereby one takes the objects and forms of thought to be the highest expression of truth. If that helps you to make sense of the world, knock yourself out.
  7. May 25, 2007 #6
    Philosophy is not about picking a belief system, it is about developing yourself to see the questions that must be answered.
  8. May 25, 2007 #7
    It's not superstition in the sense that superstitions are irrational. I would say that rationalism, and all those philosophical -isms, are essentially illusions.

    Superstition, however, is a poorly understood phenomenon. We all are extremely superstitious, except we don't see our own superstitions the way other people see them. This becomes evident when you learn about other cultures. For instance, Japanese people avoid the number 4 because it's associated with death, and we think that is superstition, but how many of us would feel comfortable sleeping in a coffin? The Japanese don't bury their dead and do not associate coffins with death; they probably find our aversion to coffins as superstitious as their aversion to the number 4.

    I believe such a thing already exists. In my part of the world the "user manual of human life" is known as The Holy Bible. You may not like it, but it's the only one around, and it's been around for a very long time.

    The bible is very easy to read. Whether it's easy to accept or not is a different matter. But any book with "final answers" will have the same problem.

    Please don't take me wrong, I'm not saying you should read the bible, much less accept it. I'm just offering my opinion on how I think people have dealt with the situation you are mentioning. One thing you can be sure, you are not alone in your pursuit of answers, everybody else is afflicted with exactly the same dilemmas.

    This is a bit complicated to explain but pure reason can only lead to tautologies. At some point you must take a leap in the void in able to say something about the world.
  9. May 27, 2007 #8
    Well "rationalism" could be a word with some double or different meaning. (At least for me.)

    What I'm actually thinking about possibly without using the right or precise word for it is "thinking as learned from applied technology".

    What is my point is that the technical revolutions and the deveopment of technology might have had a huge influence of how we look at our self and the planet itself with the eyes of an technologist.

    I think that when "technical thinking" takes over the way of how man looks at and understand himself, as a kind of "machinery" and if this "technical thinking" is the only way of seeing things, then you got a new God with the name "technology".
  10. May 27, 2007 #9
    Perfectly right. I agree with you, but I do not believe that everyone does.

    Espessially when it comes to the question of how you can learn thinking from applied technology, I think technology has got a status, at lest for someone, allmost as a God.

    My initial question was just formed to put a problem a bit to the edge.

    Also I think that tou can not judge a kind of philosophy fram Wikipedia or any book about philosophy.

    If it should be possible to write a book about the different "kinds" of philosophy there had to be some neutral references to explain it all out from, and there are not.

    The only way you can understand any philosophy, as I see it, is to more or less go into the philosophy itself and use it as its own refferece framwork.

    When you are inside such a framwork that has technology and "technical thinking" as the refference and you claim : "But this is science it is the objective truth" then tchnology or "technical thinking" has got a possition like some kind of "superstition" or "God".

    In some way you will allways have to choose the references in some way, so all kind of thinking in the end will end up with some element of "belief".
  11. May 27, 2007 #10
    bible is not rational it is pure Superstition
    and is evil in it's effects
    yes everyone should read it
    just to know what wild and untrue ideas are in there
    start at page on and read it right thru to the end
    but rational it is not

    stars AFTER TREES [with fruits] is not rational
    as every tree is made of stuff that was in a star first
    bibles are great nonhistory non fact reading of very old flawed ideas
    to bad we cannot prove who wrote what when and who edited it when and why they cut or added bits
    but this much is true no book in the bible was written near when claimed or by the persons claimed in the titles
  12. May 27, 2007 #11
    Religions require faith, worship, and philosophical foundations. Hence, a philosophy is not a religion, but it may support religions. In fact, philosophy is the foundation of all schools of thought, religious or otherwise.

    Currently Pragmatic Contextualism is the most popularly used philosophy among the sciences. Not because it is particularly appealing, but because it produces results. Of all the philosophies it is the first to successfully bridge the cognitive and behavioral sciences in a meaningful and consistent manner, which also explains why all previous attempts failed.


    Unlike rationalism and other previous attempts, Pragmatic Functional Contextualism went to the heart of the problem, language. Its basic assertion is that words only have demonstrable meaning according to their function in a given context. This is a relativistic theory which, means it is also a holistic theory. By definition holistic theories describe more than reductionist theories and, therefore, can be more useful.
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