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Argumentative theory of reason.

#1kts123Posted 6/15/2011 7:28:25 AM(edited)
Well kiddos, some of you may have noticed that I've recently taken a heavy critique of using pure reason to divine ontological truth (see: "stuff about the real world") I think one of the first realizations that set me on this path, was seeing how common self deceit is. In fact, it's somewhat common to see someone switch arguments (even when the two are entirely contradictory) during the middle of a discussion. The second knock on my door was when I started to notice reason argues its own case: "reason says... we must use reason." Which starts to sound uncannily like a parasite. The third comes from the front of scientific naturalism, in that if the human mind evolved there's no guarantee it evolved to help us understand truth (because even the concept of "truth" evolved as well.)

This morning I came across an interesting article about what is being called the argumentative theory of reason. I think it could help cast a wee bit of doubt on people who have entirely idolized reason. Namely, it's very tempting to brush off such problems as philosophical silliness, when in fact it's a serious and glaring problem in the very part of you that wants to brush it off. If reason were, as it is, a mind parasite, or an embodiment of confusion, it's entirely possible it has a vested interest in making sure people don't poke around. Say, by trying to give a nice reasonable explanation to its own incoherent nature. Which, if you ponder carefully, is again reason telling its own story.

Now some researchers are suggesting that reason evolved for a completely different purpose: to win arguments. Rationality, by this yardstick (and irrationality too, but we’ll get to that) is nothing more or less than a servant of the hard-wired compulsion to triumph in the debating arena. According to this view, bias, lack of logic and other supposed flaws that pollute the stream of reason are instead social adaptations that enable one group to persuade (and defeat) another. Certitude works, however sharply it may depart from the truth.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/arts/people-argue-just-to-win-scholars-assert.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all
#2kirsybuuPosted 6/15/2011 7:53:08 AM

The third comes from the front of scientific naturalism, in that if the human mind evolved there's no guarantee it evolved to help us understand truth (because even the concept of "truth" evolved as well.) . . . Now some researchers are suggesting that reason evolved for a completely different purpose: to win arguments.


The theory sounds nice, but the reason we evolved to reason does not in itself invalidate the correctness of our logical system or the conclusions we make using it.
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"sabe que no puede resistir mis encantos sensuales." ~ Poolshark128
#3kts123(Topic Creator)Posted 6/15/2011 8:49:20 AM
The theory sounds nice, but the reason we evolved to reason does not in itself invalidate the correctness of our logical system or the conclusions we make using it.

It does, however, mean that using the logical system to argue the correctness of the logical system is circular. It also means any feeling of 'it's probably reliable' is based entirely on a part of the mind we have no way of ensuring is trust worthy. For a moment, separate yourself from the part of your mind that handles thought: we are, in a sense, asking a separate person a question, and then trusting what that person says. Just because that person happens to be sitting inside our head, does not mean it's incapable of lying in a most glaring manner. In fact, the only way to answer the question "Is reason most likely reliable?" is to ask the man in the mind and see what he has to say.

Think of a pink elephant. Now, ask yourself, how did you conjure that image? You may feel that you are in control of your reasoning, but when you start to really think about what goes on inside your mind, you'll realize our thoughts "just happen" in the same way our heart "just beats."
#4ledzepfan15Posted 6/15/2011 9:03:35 AM
You may feel that you are in control of your reasoning, but when you start to really think about what goes on inside your mind, you'll realize our thoughts "just happen" in the same way our heart "just beats."

Your thoughts are the result of chemical reactions and nerve endings while your heart beats from electrical impulses.
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"If you think, you are late. If you are late, you use strength. If you use strength, you tire. And if you tire, you die." - Saulo Ribeiro
#5Adito99Posted 6/15/2011 9:08:06 AM
It does, however, mean that using the logical system to argue the correctness of the logical system is circular

Notice what you're doing in this topic. You're making an argument that reason cannot be trusted. Does that mean you've successfully made your case when you don't make sense?
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Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind
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#6kozlo100Posted 6/15/2011 9:15:14 AM
I think one of the more important things to note when describing reason as a trait evolved to win arguments is that the very best way to win an argument is to be right, and to know why you are right.

It's possible to win arguments other ways, but that is the most reliable and widely applicable one.
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The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication. -- Philip K. Dick
#7kts123(Topic Creator)Posted 6/15/2011 9:19:32 AM(edited)
Your thoughts are the result of chemical reactions and nerve endings while your heart beats from electrical impulses.

... And what, exactly, do you think that proves or shows?

Notice what you're doing in this topic. You're making an argument that reason cannot be trusted. Does that mean you've successfully made your case when you don't make sense?

I'm not making an argument that reason can't be trusted, because that is in and of itself a line of reason. But that's why I'm making the point. We can't actually express what just happened (nor can we say we can't express it.) Instead, you'll notice a terrible incoherence that starts to appear the more you beat the bush.

I think one of the more important things to note when describing reason as a trait evolved to win arguments is that the very best way to win an argument is to be right, and to know why you are right.

It's possible to win arguments other ways, but that is the most reliable and widely applicable one.


Do you really think a "good" argument is the best way to win a discussion? Even in formal rhetoric, two of the three modes of persuasion have little to do with reason. Now, empiricism may win arguments, but even experiments are hindered by biases. In fact, I've seen people argue against Special/General Relativity until they're blue in the face, and they don't even know what a differential is.

Another article that comes to mind.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/06/gould-morton-revisited/
#8Imperator420Posted 6/15/2011 9:24:50 AM
It does, however, mean that using the logical system to argue the correctness of the logical system is circular. It also means any feeling of 'it's probably reliable' is based entirely on a part of the mind we have no way of ensuring is trust worthy. For a moment, separate yourself from the part of your mind that handles thought: we are, in a sense, asking a separate person a question, and then trusting what that person says. Just because that person happens to be sitting inside our head, does not mean it's incapable of lying in a most glaring manner. In fact, the only way to answer the question "Is reason most likely reliable?" is to ask the man in the mind and see what he has to say.

Think of a pink elephant. Now, ask yourself, how did you conjure that image? You may feel that you are in control of your reasoning, but when you start to really think about what goes on inside your mind, you'll realize our thoughts "just happen" in the same way our heart "just beats."


I don't need to argue that the logical system is correct, because anyone who truly thinks that the logical system is incorrect shouldn't be arguing. Reasoning is a catch-all word to describe the processes of a mind as it ascertains the nature of a thing; logic is the most reliable application of this, and necessary to use in pretty much any statement that uses terms like "why," "because," or "therefore." It is your right to reject reason; you can not then go ahead and give the reason why you reject reason. Likewise, any well-constructed argument against logic will employ a fairly heavy amount of logical thinking.

Pure reason, on the other hand, we are able to critique, if for no other reason than the fact that no animal is entirely rational.
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It is unbecoming of young men to utter maxims. - Aristotle
#9kirsybuuPosted 6/15/2011 9:26:54 AM

From: kts123 | Posted: 6/15/2011 8:49:20 AM | #003
It does, however, mean that using the logical system to argue the correctness of the logical system is circular.


By the nature of what a logical system is, it is hard to avoid that. You cannot argue anything if you don't have one at all, and using one system to justify another is a self-defeating tactic. You need to use correct reasoning to determine what is correct reasoning by definition.

Think of a pink elephant. Now, ask yourself, how did you conjure that image? You may feel that you are in control of your reasoning, but when you start to really think about what goes on inside your mind, you'll realize our thoughts "just happen" in the same way our heart "just beats."


I don't think that's a complete description. A lot of stuff is done automatically by our subconscious, but there is still plenty of manual thinking and reasoning that goes on. Visual imagination is cheap, hardcore reasoning on complex topics is not. And there are plenty of body parts that have manual and auto control (lungs, legs, eyelids, mouth, etc).

We filter and organize our stream of consciousness in order to reason. Whether you agree that our logical system is correct or not, we can even use computers to codify our axioms and prove that we are correct within our system without human biases.
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"sabe que no puede resistir mis encantos sensuales." ~ Poolshark128
#10kts123(Topic Creator)Posted 6/15/2011 9:33:23 AM(edited)
I don't need to argue that the logical system is correct, because anyone who truly thinks that the logical system is incorrect shouldn't be arguing. Reasoning is a catch-all word to describe the processes of a mind as it ascertains the nature of a thing; logic is the most reliable application of this, and necessary to use in pretty much any statement that uses terms like "why," "because," or "therefore." It is your right to reject reason; you can not then go ahead and give the reason why you reject reason. Likewise, any well-constructed argument against logic will employ a fairly heavy amount of logical thinking.

Pure reason, on the other hand, we are able to critique, if for no other reason than the fact that no animal is entirely rational.


I'll re-iterate what I said in my third post, I need to emphasis this:

I'm not making an argument that reason can't be trusted, because that is in and of itself a line of reason. But that's why I'm making the point. We can't actually express what just happened (nor can we say we can't express it.) Instead, you'll notice a terrible incoherence that starts to appear the more you beat the bush.

I don't think that's a complete description. A lot of stuff is done automatically by our subconscious, but there is still plenty of manual thinking and reasoning that goes on. Visual imagination is cheap, hardcore reasoning on complex topics is not. And there are plenty of body parts that have manual and auto control (lungs, legs, eyelids, mouth, etc).

"Manual"? The feeling of expressing will, is just that, a "feeling." Just because it feels manual, does not mean it is. If each step of reason happens automatically and provides some form of sensation as feedback, you'd only feel as if you were in control.