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Author Topic:   Rationalism: a paper tiger?
Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 125 (433306)
11-11-2007 10:32 AM


"The new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it.
Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time.
A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble.
The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts.
In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything."
-- G.K. Chesterton
This is the face of postmodernism which lives in consummate contradiction-- moralizing absolutely about the falseness of a moral absolute, with an allegiance to nothing but its own self-congratulatory spirit. How eloquently does Chesterton get to the heart of matter by denuding rationalism of its rationality, exposing it to the light of reason which they so earnestly raise up as an idol.
If one looks for internal inconsistencies as a way of uncovering flawed truth claims, how does the rationalist view deal with its own glaring contradictions?
If postmodernists and rationalists applaud tolerance as a virtue to be sought after, how do they come to grips for their own intolerance of a view that must remain cogent with the law of non-contradiction-- that two opposing principles cannot both be simultaneously right?
How can this irrationality be called the face of Rationalism when it so tragically flawed?
Lastly, I believe there is nothing, at the heart of the matter, wrong with rationalism, because it employs the same deductive and inductive reasoning as any other critical thinker. The problem is, those who sometimes refer to themselves as Rationalists occasionally have irrational and contradictory devotion to a system of thought.
Perhaps to avoid confusion, I will use an upper case "R" for Rationalists or "P" for Postmodernists.
Edited by Nemesis Juggernaut, : edit to add link

“This life’s dim windows of the soul, distorts the heavens from pole to pole, and goads you to believe a lie, when you see with and not through the eye.” -William Blake

Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by AdminModulous, posted 11-11-2007 11:02 AM Hyroglyphx has replied
 Message 6 by jar, posted 11-11-2007 12:08 PM Hyroglyphx has replied
 Message 7 by Dr Adequate, posted 11-11-2007 1:32 PM Hyroglyphx has replied
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AdminModulous
Administrator
Posts: 897
Joined: 03-02-2006


Message 2 of 125 (433314)
11-11-2007 11:02 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Hyroglyphx
11-11-2007 10:32 AM


I have a couple of niggles, let me know what you think:
There is often some dispute over what postmodernism is at its core, so it might be an idea for you to include this so that the refutation you posted by Chesterton has some context.
How can this irrationality be called the face of rationalism when it so tragically flawed?
I believe the statement behind this question will be the subject of the first few pages of debate. Having explained why you think it is irrational, you should probably explain why you think that postmodernism is called the 'face of rationalism'. You're only going to have to do it anyway, I think.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-11-2007 10:32 AM Hyroglyphx has replied

Replies to this message:
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Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 125 (433319)
11-11-2007 11:25 AM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminModulous
11-11-2007 11:02 AM


postmodernism
There is often some dispute over what postmodernism is at its core, so it might be an idea for you to include this so that the refutation you posted by Chesterton has some context.
Alrighty....
quote:
How can this irrationality be called the face of rationalism when it so tragically flawed?
I believe the statement behind this question will be the subject of the first few pages of debate. Having explained why you think it is irrational, you should probably explain why you think that postmodernism is called the 'face of rationalism'. You're only going to have to do it anyway, I think.
I am going to add a link to postmodernist viewpoints. If for whatever reason you feel that is insufficient, then let me know and I'll go back to it again.
Edited by Nemesis Juggernaut, : No reason given.

“This life’s dim windows of the soul, distorts the heavens from pole to pole, and goads you to believe a lie, when you see with and not through the eye.” -William Blake

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AdminModulous
Administrator
Posts: 897
Joined: 03-02-2006


Message 4 of 125 (433324)
11-11-2007 11:50 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 17838
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.8


Message 5 of 125 (433326)
11-11-2007 11:58 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Hyroglyphx
11-11-2007 11:25 AM


Re: postmodernism
You do know that it is ID that appeals to post-modernism for support ? It was the ID side that called Steve Fuller in to the Dover case.
I don't think that many people on the evolution side of the debate will have any problem with condemning post-modernism.

This message is a reply to:
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jar
Member
Posts: 34058
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 6 of 125 (433328)
11-11-2007 12:08 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Hyroglyphx
11-11-2007 10:32 AM


Yet more nonsense.
This is the face of postmodernism which lives in consummate contradiction-- moralizing absolutely about the falseness of a moral absolute, with an allegiance to nothing but its own self-congratulatory spirit.
Yet more misrepresentation.
We've been down this path many times Nem yet you seem to forget everything that has been explained to you.
No one denies that there are absolutes. The fact that there are absolutes does not mean that there must be Absolute MORALITY.
But what folk have actually told you, time after time, "So far neither you or anyone else has been able to present an example of Absolute Morality."
There are lots of absolutes, even things that are absolutely true.
There is no conflict.
We also know that humans are capable of imagining Ideals which we now know are impossible in reality, for example an Absolutely Level Surface, or an Absolutely Straight Line. The fact that they cannot exist does not mean that humans cannot imagine such things.
G. K. Chesterton writes:
"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."
Edited by jar, : add Chesterton quote

Aslan is not a Tame Lion

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-11-2007 10:32 AM Hyroglyphx has replied

Replies to this message:
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Dr Adequate
Member (Idle past 367 days)
Posts: 16113
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 7 of 125 (433341)
11-11-2007 1:32 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Hyroglyphx
11-11-2007 10:32 AM


Wow, Chesterton could be such an old fraud, couldn't he?
Let's look at this stuff. First there's Basic Conflation. Repeat after me. "Women support animal rights. Women wear fur coats. Women are illogical."
In Chesterton's case, it's done by the crude device of talking about "the rationalist", and what "he" does, as though there were just one, and "he" held every opinion ever held by anyone whom Mr Chesterton wishes to classify as a "rationalist".
I notice that you have adopted the same tactic yourself, when you talk of "the rationalist view".
Then there's the good old Fallacy of Equivocation.
"Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it."
Hoo boy.
Let's see how postmodern Chesterton is. It would seem that he supports sexual freedom for women one moment, when he's talking about the right to leave harems in Turkey, but against it when he's talking about, for example, the right to leave a marriage in England.
Can't he just decide whether he's for or against sexual freedom? Well, no, he can't, because I would include under that term [b]both[/i] the right not to be raped and lots of other stuff which he wouldn't approve of at all. In the same way, how can I take a stance on the "purity of women" when he includes in that category both the right to say "no" and an extremely limited and conditional right to say "yes"?
Anyway, you were lecturing us on the irrationality of rationalists.
Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-11-2007 10:32 AM Hyroglyphx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-11-2007 2:51 PM Dr Adequate has replied

  
Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 8 of 125 (433347)
11-11-2007 2:10 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Hyroglyphx
11-11-2007 10:32 AM


Hi, Nem.
Is there anyone in particular, either on EvC or in real life, who is a Rationalist or a Postmodernist, according to your conception of the terms?
If so, who are they, and why do you object to their beliefs?
If not, why should we worry about a conception that doesn't exist in reality?
Edited by Chiroptera, : typo

Computers have cut-and-paste functions. So does right-wing historical memory. -- Rick Perlstein

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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 3681 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 9 of 125 (433348)
11-11-2007 2:12 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Hyroglyphx
11-11-2007 10:32 AM


Say what?
Well, which is it you intend to attack--rationalism or postmodernism?
The OP uses two terms--rationalism and postmodernism--as if they were interchangeable. They aren't.
'Rationalism' has been around at least since the eighteenth century; American democracy is one of its products. Depending on how one understands the term, one can argue that it has been with us ever since the end of the Middle Ages.
'Postmodernism' dates mainly from the 1970s. That's when it superceded modernism in general culture. Understanding the distinguishing features of postmodernism calls for an understanding of modernism. The two phenomena proceed from different premises.
The OP blends all this into apple sauce. It quotes G. K. Chesterton as if he had something critical to say of postmodernism. But Chesterton never met a postmodernist. He died in 1936--a decade before the phenomenon was recognized and the term was coined. He was taking issue with modernism.
So which of those things are you really attacking? Is it rationalism or postmodernism?
Could it be your real objection is to neither? Your real quarrel seems to be with relativism--which is yet another thing.
If that is the case, why not just abandon the other terms and clarify the issues you see involving relativism? There are all kinds of relativism. Which do you have in mind?
The first task is to clarify, in any case.
________________
Edited by Archer Opterix, : typo repair.
Edited by Archer Opterix, : brev.
Edited by Archer Opterix, : brev.

This message is a reply to:
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Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 125 (433355)
11-11-2007 2:24 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by jar
11-11-2007 12:08 PM


Re: Yet more nonsense.
We've been down this path many times Nem yet you seem to forget everything that has been explained to you.
And it is every bit inconsistent now than it was then.
No one denies that there are absolutes.
That's not true. It just may be that you don't.
The fact that there are absolutes does not mean that there must be Absolute MORALITY.
Fine. Then there is no morality. And the grandeur must then be explained in other terms.
Gaius and Titius have something to say about it, but its as bankrupt as the rest of what I'm currently railing against.
quote:
"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."
Yeah, I've read this excerpt before too. This is probably why it is said of Chesterton that he was far too nuanced to be called either progressive or a conservative.
Edited by Nemesis Juggernaut, : typo

“This life’s dim windows of the soul, distorts the heavens from pole to pole, and goads you to believe a lie, when you see with and not through the eye.” -William Blake

This message is a reply to:
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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1550 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 11 of 125 (433357)
11-11-2007 2:29 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Hyroglyphx
11-11-2007 2:24 PM


Re: Yet more nonsense.
This is probably why it is said of Chesterton that he was far too nuanced to be called either progressive or a conservative.
He's never struck me as particularly nuanced. He's struck me as a cantankerous old git, and every bit as cynical and relativist as the people that he seems so pissed off about.
You know, NJ, I could make an argument about how very suspicious it is for you to keep attacking relativism all the time, how it must indicate that in your heart of hearts you know relativism to be true, etc.
But then I'm not you, am I?

This message is a reply to:
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Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 12 of 125 (433358)
11-11-2007 2:30 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Hyroglyphx
11-11-2007 10:32 AM


If postmodernists and rationalists applaud tolerance as a virtue to be sought after, how do they come to grips for their own intolerance of a view that must remain cogent with the law of non-contradiction-- that two opposing principles cannot both be simultaneously right?
Well, I don't know whether Postmodernists and Rationalists applaud tolerance -- some might, some might not, but tolerance or intolerance is not something I associate automatically with either postmodernism or with rationalism.
But what do you think tolerance is? Tolerance is not the automatic acceptance of each and every view point as equally valid and acceptable.
Tolerance is simply the belief that one does not sanction or discriminate against other beliefs simply because they differ from your own or even contradict your own beliefs. Tolerance simply means that one allows people who have beliefs that contradict yours to live in peace. It doesn't mean that you accept their beliefs as equally valid as yours, or that you never argue against their beliefs.
Also, tolerance doesn't imply that there is no limit to what one allows in society. Actions that are a public danger, for example, can be sanctioned without charges of hypocrisy, and even beliefs that lead to such actions can be discouraged.
I'm not sure what examples you think you see of hypocrisy among those advocating tolerance, but I suspect you don't quite get what tolerance actually means.

Computers have cut-and-paste functions. So does right-wing historical memory. -- Rick Perlstein

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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1550 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 13 of 125 (433359)
11-11-2007 2:32 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Chiroptera
11-11-2007 2:30 PM


But what do you think tolerance is?
The funny thing is, I don't even know anybody who actually calls it "tolerance." They usually call it something like "not being a nosy asshole" or "not butting into other people's business."

This message is a reply to:
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Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 125 (433362)
11-11-2007 2:51 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Dr Adequate
11-11-2007 1:32 PM


The catch-22
In Chesterton's case, it's done by the crude device of talking about "the rationalist", and what "he" does, as though there were just one, and "he" held every opinion ever held by anyone whom Mr Chesterton wishes to classify as a "rationalist".
I notice that you have adopted the same tactic yourself, when you talk of "the rationalist view".
Try and follow the train of logic. I'll give you an easy contemporary illustration. For many young women today, they face a catch-all, catch-22 situation. Some people deride the chasteness of women, calling them prudish, as if chastity is just some antiquated and silly relic of a previous era.
But then when she finally does throw off the shackles of what they claim oppress her, she now gets to be a slut by doing the very thing they said would free her. She can't win, not even amongst those of her own sex, who often times are the worst offenders and the most judgmental. She's damned if she does, damned if she doesn't. Where can she go that is safe?
This is the kind of thing that Chesterton is talking about.
Let's see how postmodern Chesterton is. It would seem that he supports sexual freedom for women one moment, when he's talking about the right to leave harems in Turkey, but against it when he's talking about, for example, the right to leave a marriage in England.
Since you didn't provide a link, I have no way of either agreeing with you or objecting to the assertion. Please provide something for me to go by.

“This life’s dim windows of the soul, distorts the heavens from pole to pole, and goads you to believe a lie, when you see with and not through the eye.” -William Blake

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Dr Adequate, posted 11-11-2007 1:32 PM Dr Adequate has replied

Replies to this message:
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Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 15 of 125 (433365)
11-11-2007 3:03 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Hyroglyphx
11-11-2007 2:51 PM


Re: The catch-22
Hi, Nem.
She's damned if she does, damned if she doesn't. Where can she go that is safe?
Huh? Now I am confused. The problem is that whichever decision this particular woman makes, someone somewhere is going to be offended? This is the fault of who? Postmodernists? Rationalists? Prudes? Libertines? Anti-American pro-terrorist liberal socialist pedophile Democrats?
Is the only logical, non-hypocritical thing to do is set up a regime like Soviet Russia or the Islamic Republic of Iran where everyone is required to believe the same exact thing?
I really don't understand the point you are trying to make here.

Computers have cut-and-paste functions. So does right-wing historical memory. -- Rick Perlstein

This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-11-2007 2:51 PM Hyroglyphx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 37 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-12-2007 1:10 PM Chiroptera has replied

  
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