virus: PCR
Wed, 24 Feb 1999 19:20:05 EST

In a message dated 2/24/99 9:20:22 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

<< If we oppose faith, reason will lose. Reason doubts itself. Thus "Pan-Critical" rationalism. Pan...omni...everything INCLUDING SELF. A rational person wears their weakness on their face and collapses at the push of a button...or else they are not totally "pan-critical".>>

There is a difference between doubting and rationally criticizing. Rationally criticizing is checking for consistency of justifications, seaching out contradictions and inconsistencies and seeking to correct them or resolve them for the most accurate representation. Doubting is one tool of rational criticism, but not the only one. Doubting is just asking for further justifications to support the justifications that we are already rationally criticizing. That is just saying, "prove it". And then once provided we can check those justifications for contradictions and consistencies as well.

There is an element of selection and fitness involved here. We don't "wear our weaknesses on our face". Weaknesses in our justifications tend to collapse when subjected to rational criticism, leaving us with those justifications that are stronger and endure. Of course even our stronger justifications are still in principle subject to rational criticism, they just have a better track record than weaker ones that we discard. There is differential fitness between justifications, some are better than others, and those are the ones that we select to "wear on our faces".

>>But self-proclaimed rational people tend to be pretty resillient.
How does this happen? It's a paradox. How can these people be pan-critical, including can they be so open and yet so strong?<<

Because there is a selection process at work that tends to ensure that we are picking the more resilient justifications.

>>The sad truth is, for the vast majority, they are hypocrites.
They claim to be rational but are not, not completely. They hold assumptions which they will not question. They are not completely pan-critical. The worst are those who gleefully question everything except self.<<

Here is the best statement that I have found that encapsulates Pancritical Rationalism.

"All representations are in principle subject to rational criticism."

This does not mean that all representations are in *practice* subjected to rational criticism. Otherwise there would be no time for anything but rational criticism, and the endeavor is doomed from the start. I can rationally criticize everything for the rest of my life and there will still be representations left that I haven't rationally criticized when I die.

We all make assumptions. Making assumptions is not an act of faith. An article of faith is an assumption that we do not in principle hold open to rational criticism. Holding something in principle subject to rational criticism, doesn't mean that we are criticizing it right NOW. We can assume it right now as long as we agree that it is in principle criticizable. Since we tend to discard weaker assumptions, we can feel appropriate confidence in assuming those that remain.

>>And that has always deeply offended me, becuase I hold reason
in very high regard. To see people preach reason, teach science and yet be so FUCKING UNREFLECTIVE.<<

We are all unreflective on some level, Reed. If you are mad at people for assuming things, you may as well be mad at every last human on the planet, except maybe for the guy that sits in constant rational critical meditation on everything. He's gonna fail so maybe you ought to get mad at him too, but at least he is giving it his best shot. When he dies, however, there will remain many many things that he assumed which he was unrelflective about. If I was him though, I would get out and live a little.

>> It makes me angry. I admit this to you causes me great bile
ridden rage. It makes me shit pissed livid because these people violate something which I hold dear, which I hold inviolate, which I believe should not be questioned.<<

And that is reason? Oh, you are saying that you have faith in reason? That's not necessary, I don't think. I think one of the best ways to honor reason, rational criticism that is, would be to question it, rationally criticize it that is. A few rounds of doing that, and it builds considerable confidence in it.

It sounds to me like you might just have some plain old anger issues that probably have little to do with rational criticism, assuming you were sincere about all of those expletives.

>>>Well, a question asks, but a statement asserts.

My precious God, I think you're going Zen on me. I love it.<<

A question pulls and a statement pushes. And an excamation just sits there and tries to look obvious. And then of course there is just plain silence, but it can make lots of room for questions, statements and exclamations and their many hybrids.

>>Ironic, isn't it? Ironic that I claim to be rational and yet am
so dogmatic? That realization causes me guilt, great guilt...becuase I am what I hate, in a sense. I'm a rabid rationalist. I have an unshakeable faith in reason. I will bend, to be sure. But I will die before I break on this principle.<<

Reason doesn't need faith. Having faith in it tends to weaken it.

>>Plus, I've got to help other people think. It's
useless for me to be free if everyone else is still enslaved. Freedom of expression is only worth something if there in an audience of equals to listen. But so many of us are irrational, slaves to one ideology or another. And we have faith in our foolishness.<<

You will never free everyone. But when you get the opportunity free who you can. Embrace the process.