Re: Metarationality (was: JOIN: Alden Streeter)

From: Gordon Worley (
Date: Sun Aug 25 2002 - 12:43:25 MDT

On Sunday, August 25, 2002, at 02:19 PM, Ben Goertzel wrote:

>> You need to expand your notion of rationality. It is any process that
>> produces the right answer. Not by accident or only in some cases, but
>> consistently produces the most right answer possible. Rationality is
>> not too narrow or two broad of a word, IMO, but is just right.
> This sounds about the same to me as Eliezer's "whatever works."
> So, then, given that I have a human brain with its ensuing strengths and
> limitations, if I rely largely on emotion to drive me in producing a
> piece
> of music or in guiding me through a mathematical proof, according to
> your
> view what I'm doing is being "rational." I'm being "rational" because
> by
> letting emotion guide me, I am achieving my goal of constructing music
> or
> mathematics meeting certain criteria.
> And similarly, when my dog chases a female dog in heat, based on his
> attraction to her smell, and then proceeds to hump her vigorously, he is
> behaving rationally, because he is doing something that produces the
> right
> answer for him, i.e. it achieves his goal of getting nookie. His
> heuristic
> "smell it, chase it, hump it" consistently produces the right answer for
> him. It's not a perfect heuristic -- it would be fooled by an
> appropriate
> pheromone-generating machine -- but it works pretty well in
> reality.... Yet
> it just doesn't feel right to me to say the dog is being "rational" in
> this
> case...

It is not just getting the right answer that matters. It's getting the
right answer in the right way.

If you wasted a lot of time to come up with the right answer, you are
not thinking the right way. The better you weight decision trees and
think logically, the less time you will waste trying to test some
hypothesis to come up with the right answer.

Rightness is not what is right qua being X. It what is right for being
X qua the universe. If it is most right for your dog to reproduce qua
the universe, then it is rational to reproduce. This does not mean that
your dog is a rational thinker, since he is likely using emotions to
make decisions, which prove to be less effective than logical thought.

Gordon Worley                     `When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty            said, `it means just what I choose                it to mean--neither more nor less.'
PGP:  0xBBD3B003                                  --Lewis Carroll

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