[FoRK] Reason is a Jungle

Lion Kimbro <lionkimbro at gmail.com> on Mon Sep 17 13:10:57 PDT 2007

  (This is largely directed to Jeff Bone;
   Ignore if you're not into the "nature of reason and rationality"
conversation.)


  I want to write a book about reason.  I've written up a card for this,
  and it's something that I might do.  These conversations that you
  and I have here feed into the potential for this book existing one day.

  This book would be a reflection of my vision of reason.  It'd be
  an illustrated book, and it would present reason as this living
  thing, and lines of reason as having genealogy, history, struggle,
  and so on.

  It'd have drawings that depict reason as *using* logic, not of
  being somehow *commanded* by logic.  It'd show reason picking
  up ideas, playing them off against one another, looking for
  logical inconsistencies, and such.

  It'd show castles made of mathematics, and the "inputs" to
  logic, the axioms, and so on.  And it'd show that a castle of
  logic is only as meaningful as the validity of the inputs.

  It would talk about *ideas.*  It'd show ideas like Greek Gods
  and Goddesses, inspiring thoughts and feelings and acts,
  unfolding as per situations, into different collections of
  conclusions, often times fighting with other ideas, and so on,
  Reason walking the paths between their blows, and sometimes
  finding new paths, new ideas, new Gods, new visions, in the
  path to the future.

  It'd show powerful ideas once, receding into obscurity, made
  obsolete by the perpetually changing world.

  It'd show ideas, held individually, and ideas, held socially-
  by a great many people- movements of the past, such as
  the Enlightenment, such as communism, such as the civil
  rights movement, ...

  It'd speak of history, and periods, and clarity, and confusion.

  This is a book that I feel like I've been putting together in
  the back of my head, and that I keep wanting to write.

  I want to write it, because I speak *so regularly* with people
  who envision reason as being "the proper activities of a
  properly functioning computer."  Who see rationality as
  meaning "getting the answer."  People who understand
  that evolution means multiple niches, no one right way,
  no one destination at the top of the "ladder" of evolution,
  and yet who, questioned on the subjects of reason and
  rationality, are guided by simple notions of "more rational"
  vs. "less rational," and can't get much further than that.

  I always wish that I had a book that I could hold up in
  front of them, and shout, "THIS!  THIS!"  "It's not like that!"
  "Don't the diagrams in this book speak more closely
  to your experience?"

  I'd like for it to be common knowledge, that rationality
  is to a purpose, not something that commands you what
  to do, by itself.  I'd like for it to be common knowledge,
  that emotion and thinking are deeply intertwined, and
  don't really make much sense without the other.

  It's not just the scientists and hackers that I struggle with;
  I struggle with would-be activists, communitarians, and
  incomplete Buddhists, who say things like, "The elimination
  of thoughts is the objective.  Silence is the only true religion."

  I see it all in the motions of reason.
  I might call it, "Reason is a Jungle," or something.


  ...

  It just occured to me -- (PS--)
  Dr. Seuss wrote a related work -- which I'll just HAVE to cite:
  "Oh, the Thinks You Can Think."

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