Friday, June 18, 2010

I Heart Scott Atran

I find it fascinating that brilliant scientists and philosophers have no clue how to deal with the basic irrationality of human life and society other than to insist against all reason and evidence that things ought to be rational and evidence based. Makes me embarrassed to be an atheist.

4 comments:

Kel said...

It's an IS-OUGHT distinction. Just because we are irrational at a core, does that mean that we shouldn't strive to be rational and evidence-based? Personally I like my computer and electricity and modern technology, and I know that things like this only come from a rational and evidence-based inquiry. Striving for it despite the IS that society in general is irrational is something that we OUGHT to do. And if that's something to be embarrassed about, then be embarrassed.

"If nevertheless it is high-minded silliness to champion the cause of trying to conduct our affairs sensibly, and to free our minds and lives to the greatest extent conformable with our being social animals who owe one another moral regard, I embrace it with enthusiasm." - AC Grayling

Reasonably Aaron said...

"Just because we are irrational at a core, does that mean that we shouldn't strive to be rational and evidence-based? "

Is there any evidence that supports the view that we should strive to be rational or evidence-based? The Is-Ought distinction cuts both ways. I don't know the answer!

"Personally I like my computer and electricity and modern technology"

The same electricity that can be used to power a computer can also be used to electrocute someone.

Has modern technology really made a species which has spent the vast majority of its evolutionary development without it, better or happier?

Isn't much of our happiness dependent on many who sacrifice to bring us that happiness? (i.e slave labour in third world countries to give us shiny crap which we don't really "need", etc)

Did you know that women are less happy post liberation?

"Striving for it despite the IS that society in general is irrational is something that we OUGHT to do."

Maybe. But where is the evidence this is true? I also share this viewpoint, but is it merely axiomatic or can it be derived through observation or logic?

I think our cause is noble but perhaps it is like building sandcastles on the shore, eventually they are going to be washed away by a sea of ignorance.

Kel said...

I'm surprised you can't think of the evidence necessary. Nonetheless, I feel any response dictates more than just a comment on here. So if you can wait a couple of days I'll try to make the case on my blog.

For a quick reply now, consider the fates of two different countries: 17th century Italy and latter 20th century South Korea. The inquisition pretty much stifled progress in Italy, meaning they fell behind other European powerhouses more open to those ideas. After the Korean war, South Korea had an economy much like Mexico. Through investment in education, they have gained in prosperity immensely.

Now in both those cases I can't argue whether or not progress was built on the suffering of others. In Europe, it would be hard not to be reminded that the prosperity meant slavery and devastation for third world cultures. And are South Korean (along with other technologies) are consuming our resources at an alarming rate which is having adverse affects on the planet and its long term sustainability.

But what I do realise is because of the technology we have, we can overcome these affects. Slavery and colonialism didn't end from irrationality, likewise the banning of particular chemicals and processes isn't irrationality fighting back against the forces of rationalism and the devastation it causes. The only way out isn't through burying our heads in the sand, historically this cannot be justified and logically it makes no sense!

Kel said...

As promised: my reply.