Re: virus: Faith

David McFadzean (
Sun, 02 Nov 1997 15:05:20 -0700

At 02:15 AM 11/1/97 +0100, Reed Konsler wrote:

>>reasonable - consistent with one's goals and intentions
>It seems to me that this is a subjective defintion, correct?

Not really. Even if one's goals and intentions are subjective,
the test of whether or not a given belief is consistent with
them is not.

>Second..."only rationalizable beliefs are reasonable"...
>is there a test for rationalizability? What I mean to
>say is, can you sort unrational statements into two
>categories ("unrationalizable" and "rationalizable")
>PRIOR to the process of rationalization? If you are

I don't think so.

>unsuccessful in rationalizing an unrational statement
>is that an indication of it's INTRINSIC nature, or
>the limitations of your system of analysis?

If a belief is inconsistent with one's goals I think
it is safe to say that it is intrinsically unrationalizable.

>Here is a restatement of Godel's Theorm:
>Within any system there are unrational statements
>which are reasonable but which it is impossible for
>the system to rationalize.
>Which would tend to contradict your suspicion, if
>you accept the analogy.

I don't accept the analogy, it bears only a superficial
resemblance to Godel's theorem. However, even if it
was a good analogy, so what? Mathematicians didn't give
up on mathematics, did they? And no-one has found another
way to find true theorems (Penrose notwithstanding).

>I just want to get at the difference between a fraud and a rationalization.
>In common context, a "rationalization" is considered a kind of
>intellectual fraud...the claiming of rational support for an action which
>was unrational or emotionally motivated. I know this isn't what you
> I was looking for some clarification.
>I'm interested in the process of "rationalization".

Rationalization is only a fraud if you falsely claim that you
arrived a belief through conscious reasoning when you did not.
I'm talking about after the fact justification of a belief.

>>unrational - if it is not based on logical reasoning
>>rationalized - when an unrational belief is turned into a rational belief
>>rational - if it is based on logical reasoning with true premises
>> *and* valid inferences
>Are there rational beliefs which were not once unrational?

Yes, it is possible to arrive at a belief through conscious reasoning.

>>>1) Who (or what) defines the category "logic" and of what is it comprised?
>>>2) Who (or what) is the source of "true premises"?
>>>3) Who (or what) is the arbiter of "valid inferences"?
>>Given that entire books have been written to answer each of these questions
>>what kind of answer do you want me to give?
>A clear one based upon your best understanding.

If you want a simple answer, you will have to ask a much more complicated

>>Do you doubt it is possible to be rational?
>I'm not sure what you mean. I know what a "rational" belief is,
>for purposes of this discussion...but not what a rational person
>is. Is a rational person a someone who believes all rational
>things, only rational things, all and only rational things...

A person is rational to the extent that they are willing to
change their beliefs based on rational arguments. I doubt anyone
is completely rational given our genetic heritage and all, but
many people aspire to be.

>If you mean:
>>Do you doubt it is possible [for a belief] to be rational?
>Then, no. I have no doubt beliefs can be rational. It is the
>connection between rational beliefs and reasonable beliefs
>which is the core of the discussion. You are asserting that
>there is some close connection. I am asking you to rationalize
>that assertion.

Fair enough. First do you concede their is a correlation between
irrational beliefs and unreasonable beliefs?

>>If you want me to say it is necessarily intersubjective, I have no
>>problem with that. No belief is objectively rational. It is only rational
>>given a specific context. Or, more precisely, there exists a set of contexts
>>in which a specific belief is rational.
>Is there a context in which a belief in God is rational?

Yes, just a few hundred years ago, before Darwin and Galileo,
postulating a god was the most rational explanation of apparent
complexity and order in the natural world.

>Is there a context in which a belief in God is reasonable?

Yes, given that one wants to survive and one lives in a time
and place where heretics are burned at the stake, it is very
reasonable to believe in God.

>Could you define "context" for purposes of this discussion?

How about "all beliefs held to be true"? Does that work?

>I have to say, David, that this is much better...your defintions
>have really helped me to clarify my statements. I think our
>respective positions are becoming much clearer.

Thanks and I agree. It is almost like progress, though I know
that is impossible in internet discussions :-)

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus