Rationalism is the death of realism


Conservatism is like a mountain peak rising above the clouds. The light glints on it and we realize, surrounded by the ruins of the delusions of our fellow citizens, that conservatism gives us an option to certain failure. But we do not yet understand it.

As a non-ideological viewpoint, Conservatism needs a different form of study to be understood. Liberalism and ideology reward the memorization of talking points and arguments; conservatism requires an understanding more like biology or mechanics. Liberalism teaches thoughts, conservatism teaches how something works.

Conservatism will always suffer a disadvantage to liberalism because liberalism is at its core a very simple ideal. Despite people my whole life telling me how “complex” liberalism is, I find no complexity in it. It is the idea of egalitarianism and the mechanisms required to make that happen, and to make it appear as if it should happen. It is more a study in salesmanship than ideas.

On the other hand, conservatism is like that mountain peak. You already know the shape of the mountain upon having glimpsed the peak, because the peak recapitulates the shape of the mountain. A mountain is a natural phenomenon and thus cannot be understood in isolation, however, because it is interconnected with all else in the way of the organic. Thus a background in the philosophy surrounding the mountain is needed, while the mountain itself is grasped immediately.

As part of that philosophical background, this blog periodically attacks the — wait, are you asleep? wake up please — less tangible and immediate topics. Sitting through theory about how reality is put together may not be your bag, and that’s understandable, but it’s useful for putting conservatism into context. Some of our favorite targets are the thing-in-itself, the many notions of materialism, deconstruction and rationalism. Today we attack the latter.

This definition of rationalism perhaps works the best:

a view that reason and experience rather than the nonrational are the fundamental criteria in the solution of problems

A more sage view:

The problem with rationalism is this: it tries to raise a human perspective to a universal one.

We project a lot of our own minds and what types of data-structures are convenient for them to use. When analyzing life, we break it down and fit it into those human data-structures.

We also impose the solipsistic bias, which is (a) because this is what I see, it is what everyone sees and (b) because I am seeing it, my viewpoint is absolute.

This is distinct from “I have seen reality, past my own bias, and I can’t believe others do not.” But from a distance and to someone has not experienced both, they look identical.

This is the root of the Crowd’s poison: they wish to make the two the same on a social level. Thus, socially (meaning socializing with friends, not institutionally) we assume that self-bias equals reality-bias.

Reason and experience will answer everything, we are told. And yet those things are ill defined. Who benefits from vague definitions? Those who want to manipulate them. In this case, “reason” has come to mean a prototypical force for deconstruction. It is yet another way of projecting human needs upon the world.

For example, reason tends to phrase questions in discrete and or binary ways. Is the house red, yes or no? In reality, the house is painted a shade of red, which means the whole thing isn’t red. It has degrees of red on the areas that are painted. It may even have some walls that are another color.

This becomes important when we reach questions such as “free will.” Do we have free will? That’s a yes/no question when really we should be talking about degrees of choice. Some people can make wider ranges of choice than others. They do not need perfect free will, only the ability to pick better over worse.

Rationalism encourages this kind of deconstruction, but also urges us to use justification. When asked for the reasons why we do things, we are forced to put our actions into reason form. This requires a justification, or an explanation relying on values the audience recognizes already. It does not actually explain why we think we did what we did, only how we use social logic to explain why we should have or could have.

Most people can’t handle even a fraction of this, and it’s cut short here, because it is both abstract and assaults one of the underlying notions to our society. It’s sensible to believe logic can help us. However, “reason” is “human reason,” or a projection of human needs onto the data, when we should do it the other way around and adapt as humans to what the data indicates is true.

Tags: , , , ,

3 Responses to “Rationalism is the death of realism”

  1. LoreTek says:

    “It is more a study in salesmanship than ideas.”

    Marketing and Liberalism go together like Stalin and Communism…

    Oh, wait.

  2. crow says:

    It was a life-changing moment, when I first became aware that the mountain I had been contemplating, was not just some random thing, placed upon the landscape, but was the landscape.
    And that the landscape was not simply some random thing placed upon the land, but was the land.
    And the land not some random thing placed upon the planet, but was the planet.
    And the planet, not some random anomaly placed upon the cosmos…

    And I, small and insignificant, not some random thing crawling about in the cosmos, but…

    That’s context. The conservative view is all about context. Whereas the liberal view doesn’t have any, other than that concerning only people.

  3. Tony says:

    Not sure if this comment is going to fit the post, though most definitely it is not a liberal vs. conservative thing. Truth is I don’t know who is at fault.

    Just watching some olympics on television and of course you got to get some commercials with all of that. One the one had you have the happy feel good commercials that are pushing a phony reality. You have the other commercials that are pushing ways of being that are maybe not all that healthy emotionally, but push as the way. Then you have commercials for all the latest hollywood movies, most which seem to focus on dystopic themes.

    So we have the happy happy joy joy stuff, yet we are clinging to this dystopic cultural meme, theme, or whatever. And you know we are going to keep marching on down that path or so it seems.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>