On Rationality

Cedric Chambers
December 13, 2016
Surreal Self Portrait

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. - Aristotle

Thought is not black and white. What I see in the world is a bunch of people all doing what they think is the right thing to do, or the good thing to do, but simultaneously causing each other’s suffering. “There is no act of human-caused-evil committed without the act of rationality.”

People often say that I define rationality wrong but never take the time to look it up. Rationality is one of the most diverse philosophical thoughts. Rationality has many definitions: “Rationality is the quality or state of being reasonable, based on facts or reason. Rationality implies the conformity of one’s beliefs with one’s reasons to believe, or of one’s actions with one’s reasons for action.”

Rationality is relative. It is both singular and plural. From a group perspective, it relies on the relativity between multiple reasons to practice something. Group rationality, or the type of rationality used by a jury, is relative to what the general population thinks about something, it represents what an average person would think or do, thus it’s constantly changing between time periods. A rational person in 1650 is not the same thing as a rational person in 2010. Rationality is limited by geography too. A rational person in Saudi Arabia is not the same type of rational person in the United States. Rationality is relative in group terms, and subjective in singular terms. Group rationality can be defined as a mean, or a wisdom of the crowds kind of logic, and irrationality can be defined in direct contrast to group rationality, and this contradiction defines the principle of a justice system. So a criminal is irrational by direct comparison to group rationality, but rational in terms of singular rationality, one’s own conformity to one’s own actions and reasons for those actions - every person has a reason for doing the things that they do, serial killers often have “triggers”. Rationality does not equate to empiricism or ontology. From the world’s perspective, the world is mostly religious, and it is therefore rational to be religious from a group perspective.

The law is a form of good, I think most people can agree that Justice is a good thing. Justice is fundamentally retribution for what is “a-historically” evil, sometimes using the same form of what was committed as a form of punishment. Capital punishment, is the act of group rationality dictating that an evil act, murder, is an acceptable form of punishment. Crime and punishment exist as rational broken mirrors. For example, a person would get mad if they were cheated on. A wife cheats on her husband, the husband also cheats on said wife, reciprocation is how rational people deal with being hurt. Good and evil exist in the same context, and often, evil is committed out of the act of doing good. A burglar robs a bank to feed his family, which is a “good” thing to do when one has no other choices. Democracy and peace are arguably good, and are often the cause of international conflict.

The thesis of Stephen Diamonds book, a psychological analysis of 2,000 prison inmates, “Anger, Madness, and the Didamonic”, proposes that there is no such things as “senseless violence”. People are rational in their own mind, and many think that they are doing “good”. The person who runs the sweatshop often refers to what they do as an act of good, because they’re supplying jobs. Very few people think that they’re ‘evil’. Everyone is the misunderstood hero in their own personal journey.

Many types of wrongdoing can be attributed to right doing, the perfect and most obvious example is religious conflict or war. In the 16th century the colonialists conquered Africa to “Civilize the Primitive”, showing their different religious views and different ways of life as justifications for their expensive wars. During the 21st century the United States went to war in the Middle East to spread “Freedom and Democracy”, showing their different religious views and different ways of life as justifications for their expensive wars.

Humanity doesn’t really change, humanity changes the words it uses.

To view life from one perspective is to lose thoughts like these, and even though people mostly don’t read what I write, and many people absolutely hate what I write, I feel like it’s my duty to humanity to provide new and interesting perspectives without being asked to.

-You’re welcome.

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