Rationality Freiburg

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What Is Rationality (Not)?


April 16, 2022 (Updated: February 22, 2024)

Rationality is a desire to see the world as it is, not as you wished it to be. It is about accepting the fallibility of human cognition and nevertheless striving to reach valuable conclusions. It’s applying empirical thinking to prove yourself wrong. It’s being humble and thirsty.

Rationality is not about being cold, unfeeling and robotic. It is not prioritizing abstract logic over human emotion. Rather it is accepting human emotion, both in oneself and others and understanding its beauty and purpose. If you are baffled by irrational behaviour it’s actually you who is behaving irrationally by expecting anything else.

Rationality is not supressing that warm glow you feel when hearing a beautiful piece of music. Rather it is bathing in that feeling. And maybe afterwards, if you are so inclined, reflecting in amazement how it is possible to produce such an effect.

Further reading

Julia Galef’s talk “The Straw Vulcan” debunks some common myths.

Julia explains why epistemically it’s bad form to ask something like:

I can’t understand how people could think science detracts from the beauty of the physical world.