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Seems like a silly question; but if rationality is non-contradiction, but the person's evidence and knowledge is not complete (but they of course don't know that) then can that false idea still be considered rational because it didn't contradict with the persons knowledge and evidence given?

For clarification, many modern scientific theories and hypothesis can be false as our understanding of the universe expands, but can our (possible false) theories be rational?

asked Sep 25 '12 at 22:49

TheBucket's gravatar image

TheBucket
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edited Sep 26 '12 at 00:02

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦
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Rationality is essentially using logic, the method of reason, to acquire knowledge. The principle of non-contradiction is one the requirements that must be met to be considered as knowledge. As a person continues to experience and consider the evidence around them, they can add to their knowledge, integrating the new evidence without contradiction into the sum total of their knowledge.

When new evidence is experienced, and the process of integrating it with the rest of your knowledge reveals a contradiction, this fact reveals that an error in thinking is present. Either the new evidence contradicts your current knowledge and should be rejected, or your current knowledge needs to be evaluated for accuracy in the light of this new evidence and the error corrected to maintain the integrity of your knowledge. In this latter case, a false conclusion was reached by a proper use of reason, and consequently corrected by the continued application of the same method.

In the course of using this method, one can come to understand that consciousness is limited. At any given point in time, the amount of evidence experienced and knowledge gained is finite. This leads us to understand that knowledge is acquired by an ongoing process and that there will alway be more knowledge to be gained. Carrying this a little further, one might consider that there be such a thing as complete knowledge, and develop a concept to encapsulate it, i.e.; omniscience. If you try to integrate omniscience with the rest of your knowledge, you should discover a contradiction between omniscience and the fact that consciousness is limited, its knowledge is finite.

answered Sep 26 '12 at 17:13

dream_weaver's gravatar image

dream_weaver ♦
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edited Sep 26 '12 at 17:27

The meaning of rationality and its alternative can be summed up as follows. Existence exists, and man is part of existence. Man can look at existence and learn how to deal with it, or he can look away from it and defy it. Rationality means looking and learning; mysticism means looking away and resisting. Existence imposes definite consequences for man's choice to be rational or not. If he chooses to be rational, existence offers opportunities and rewards; if he chooses to be mystical, existence imposes nothing but pain, suffering and destruction, without end until one reaches the peace of the grave.

A key aspect and "building block" of reason is objectivity, which OPAR identifies as "Volitional Adherence to Reality by the Method of Logic." (p. 116) OPAR identifies rationality as "the recognition and acceptance of reason as one's only source of knowledge, one's only judge of values and one's only guide to action." (p. 221, quoting Ayn Rand.)

Being rational is never a guarantee of being infallible. It is not a guarantee of success in cognition or in life, nor of never making an error. Furthermore, as another Answer points out, all knowledge is contextual; there is no guarantee that knowledge gained in one context will remain applicable in a different or expanded context, although a changing context never invalidates the applicability of existing knowledge within the context in which it was gained, if it was valid in that context originally.

answered Sep 27 '12 at 15:44

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦
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Asked: Sep 25 '12 at 22:49

Seen: 784 times

Last updated: Sep 27 '12 at 15:44