Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pure Rationality

A post on this blog affiliated with the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford linked to one of my posts on The Big Assumption as part of an argument that our life experience shouldn't influence our decision-making. Unfortunately, I can't find the post anymore.

The gist of the argument was that the author was upset that older people often claim that a younger person's attitude may change with age. Long story short, the author's objection was that reason is reason regardless of how old we are. Therefore, opinions ought not change.

I like to think that the author deleted the post because this is self-evidently stupid. The rigid adherence to empiricism, scientism, and rationality leads to tons of very odd ideas, including that your life isn't one coherent experience, but a series of "mind-moments:"
It is incoherent to talk about a "you" which stretches through time. Instead, we should think of a series of similar mind-moments.

The author of this second post then explains how the child him and his present self are actually, for all intents and purposes, two completely separate people. For people seemingly so concerned about being strictly rational, they're fucking nuts.


Anonymous said...

Totally off topic (sorry) but isn't this like the perfect book for a heretic like you:

Mrs. P

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that link doesn't work, try this one:

FLG said...

Mrs. P:

I don't know how I missed that book.

Seth Goldin said...


I was the author of the original post, and yes, I took it down, because it wasn't very good, but not for the reasons you give. The problem was that I I had tried to cram three different, difficult ideas into one post, and in the process, didn't convey any of them well. It didn't help that the title was meant to be intentionally provocative, but the wording was just terribly misleading.

The real gist of the argument is better elucidated in the revised post.

That life isn't one coherent experience wasn't a part of my argument at all. That sure is stupid! I'm not sure where you pulled the quotation from, because I know that I didn't write that.

One of the points that was in the original post, but cut out of the revised post, had to do with rationality and The Big Assumption, because it's related to the problem of generalizing from one example.

Seth Goldin

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