Re: Metarationality (was: JOIN: Alden Streeter)

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sat Aug 24 2002 - 14:50:23 MDT

Gordon Worley wrote:
> FYI, I'm going to be out most of the day, so I only have a little time
> for e-mail this morning. I'll finish making replies tonight.
> On Saturday, August 24, 2002, at 01:02 AM, Samantha Atkins wrote:
>> Personally, I have problems with the implied premise that rationality
>> is the end and be all of human consciousness. I
> Me, too.
> Rationality is just one step up from being a human thinker. I think
> that there are at least two more qualitative changes in thought:
> enlightenment and, for lack of a better term, Buddha thought.

Ah, good! This is more congruent with my own understanding
also. When you have the time, I would very much enjoy knowing
more about what you see as the nature of this stage of
consciosness you call rationality and the manner of its attainment.

>> believe it is very important and foundational but I do not believe it
>> is penultimate. I usually find the way people speak of it and defend
>> it and especially defend against any notion that it might not be the
>> hightest end-good of sentience, decidely circular. It looks a bit
>> like another memeset defended vigourously against all others. It
>> cannot integrate with other memes easily unless it can dominate or
>> consume them into itself.
> I'm not sure when such arguments were made, so I can't respond. Please
> point them out.

What I was attempting to get at there is that many persons seem
to hold rationality as another warring memeset as against all
memesets of states of consciousness. I was not sure at the time
I wrote the above whether or not you held it that way to some

>> But there is a difference in fully employing rationality as a tool and
>> believing it is the greatest and hightest good besides which all other
>> aspects of consciousness and ways of being and knowing are pitifully
>> second-rate if they are not
> This is where I think the confusion is.
> Rationality is not a tool. Logical thinking is a tool. Bayesian
> reasoning is a tool. Rationality is a qualitative change in the way you
> think. It causes a disruption of your sense of self (you feel as if you
> are a completely different person than you used to be). Becoming
> rational produces a sense of waking up to realize that you had been a
> moron your entire life and no one noticed.

So it is a state of consciousness. Many shifts of consciousness
one habitually lives in give very much this sense of being a
different person, albeit sometimes with a little more compassion
toward one's former state and those still predominantly in it.

> You cannot be very rational without being honest at least with
> yourself. At best you'll have the capacity for rationality but will be
> unable to see your own errs to be able to correct them.

Good. This does remind me of certain forms of Buddhist workings
or of jnana yoga.

>> I don't distrust rationality. I distrust the near-worship of
>> rationality as if it were more than it is.
> I think you view rationality very differently from the way I or Eliezer
> do. As I stated, rationality is not just a tool for thinking, but a way
> of thinking. This may be the hardest thing to accept without becoming
> rational yourself, since there is nothing in human thought to suggest
> that there is a higher level system. For the computer scientists, this
> is similar to the problem of having someone who only knows about Regular
> Languages and trying to convince them that Context Free languages
> exist. If they have only seen Regular Languages their entire life,
> you're going to have to show them a Context Free Language before they'll
> believe you. The same thing happened to the protagonist in /Flatland/.

I will look forward to when you have more time to go into this.
    In fact, there is much in human thought recognizing higher
level systems of consciousness than the one one happens to be
in. All of those systems of meditation and contemplation would
not exist otherwise. Granted a lot of junk coats many of them.
But "human thought" is not ignorant of this basic idea. Perhaps
you meant that most human beings spend much of their lives not
being cognizant of such possibilities except as some airy

- samantha

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