RE: Metarationality (was: JOIN: Alden Streeter)

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Fri Aug 23 2002 - 19:57:05 MDT

Eliezer wrote:
> Isn't it a perfectly reasonable
> possibility that Gordon and I do in fact have an irrational attachment to
> the idea of our own rationality? Yes. However, the way I've observed
> these conversations to run in practice is that *any* attempt to employ
> deliberative thinking about rationality gets written off, without further
> explanation or attempted debugging, as a speaker rationalization. The
> swallowed person just basically doesn't *trust* rationality - they've
> found that it doesn't work them, they're not willing to believe that it
> could work for anyone else, and they think it's basically a social
> persuasive device

I understand the problem you're pointing out here, but I don't believe I
have fallen into this trap.

I trust rationality more than anything else, but I don't trust it as much as
you and Gordon seem to.

In general, in ordinary life, irrationality really pisses me off, and I've
had to learn to mute my instinctive emotional reaction against it, and
become more accepting of the fact that humans are largely irrational

It is very rare in ordinary life for me to find people who exalt rationality
more than I do -- but this list has a different makeup than the people I
encounter in "ordinary life" ;->

I champion conscious reason, but also intuition. I see intuition as
unconscious reason, adept at piecing together a huge number of pieces of
weak evidence in statistical and creative ways. Intuition can do some
things that conscious reason cannot, because of conscious reason's limited
channel capacity. However, human intuition is also inextricably bound up
with human emotion, which is also irrational.

In future AI minds, there will be intuition (in the sense of inference
combining huge numbers of pieces of weak evidence) that is NOT as tangled up
with emotion as human intuition is. So there will be a much grander sort of
rationality than we can experience. Because for us, the only type of
thought that we can effectively free of strong emotional influences is
conscious reason, which has very limited capacity.

Most humans couldn't care less for conscious logical reason, and trust
intuition vastly more. Comparatively, I am a huge advocate of conscious
logical reason. But compared to you and Gordon, I am a big advocate of
intuition even with its inevitable emotional tangledness.

You may tell me that you guys are SO rational you have freed even your
unconscious intuitions from significant emotional influence. However, based
on my interactions with you, I don't get that feeling ;)

-- Ben G

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