25 October 2015
Reasoning Gone Bad
We may be intelligent creatures, but we are still emotionally weak. Often, not only, we don't know how to handle our emotions, we don't even have the courage to feel and stay with our own emotions. This may be as simple as staying with boredom just for five minutes without doing anything.
"We are nuclear giants and emotional infants" -- Jack Kornfield
Emotionally blind reason:
Every reasoning we make is somewhat emotionally biased. Once we are emotionally invested in anything, we will be blind to see even obvious errors in our reasoning. We may believe in any magic and outright stupidity.
"We who work at the Supreme Court level, where I do, understand that 90% of our decisions are made on an emotional basis; the other 10% supplies the rationality for those decisions" -- Justice William O. Douglas
Invention of reason (Rationalization):
With our emotional weakness, we often become the victims of our own emotions. Then we invent some reasons (excuses) for our behaviors or feelings to satisfy others or ourselves. We rationalize our actions and feelings so we may feel better. Rationalization is so common that we may not even consciously aware of it.
If our reasoning is short-sighted and not thorough enough, and we could end up with a wrong conclusion. That is how we used to think that the Earth is flat, the Sun rotates around the Earth, and heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones. The conclusions are wrong here, as we only applied a small set of short-sighted evidences.
Inversion of reason:
However bizarre it may sound, there are cases in which, not just our conclusion, but our reasoning itself can be totally reversed, upside down.
"I'm sorry I wrote you such a long letter. I didn't have time to write you a short one" -- Blaise Pascal
"Oh Lord, protect me from my friends, I can take care of my enemies" -- Voltaire
Inversion-of-reason can be startling and confusing. No wonder, why most people still struggle to fully comprehend the evolution of life. In essence, what Charles Darwin says: In order to make a perfect, highly complex survival machine, it's not requisite to know how to make it. There is no need for an intelligent agent. It further enlightens us, how we maybe getting many of our simple day-to-day reasoning totally backwards. It's not that we like honey because it's sweet, honey tastes sweet because we are evolved to have sweetness for it. There is no intrinsic sweetness in honey, sweetness is wired in our brain. It's not that we adore and care babies because they are cute, we are evolved to find them as cute because we have to adore and care them.
In a similar fashion, the father of computer science, Alan Turing showed: In order to be a perfect, highly sophisticated computing machine, it is not requisite to know what arithmetic is. Computers do not know anything about arithmetic or mathematics, yet they perform simple to advanced arithmetic calculations. In essence: It is possible to have competence without comprehension; and comprehension can come later from competence. Comprehension is an effect, not a cause. Likewise our intelligence is an effect, not a cause; our consciousness is an effect, not a cause; our sense-of-self is an effect, not a cause. Our intelligence is a result of many low level components. Our consciousness is a result of many intertwined unconscious processes. Our sense-of-self is a collection of many concepts. Alas, many are still looking for some fundamental magical source for our intelligence, consciousness, and soul.
Inversion of reason is based on a presentation by Daniel Dennett.