Monday, March 11, 2013

Define Rational Mind

I haven't had time to post anything recently. So, in light of the recent long discussion about moral free agency over at AVFM, in which I argued with Steve Moxon (who seriously out classes me in the academic department, but I will not agree to his statements about free will and rationality), I am going to post a question/challenge to anyone who happens by.

Can anyone provide a definition of a rational mind? What could possibly be capable of producing a rational mind? Would a rational mind be capable of performing anything of its own volition or would it only be capable of thinking if challenged by outside forces - less rational minds?

Steve Moxon states that evolution could not possibly produce a rational mind. It begs the question, indeed. For, evolution has produced the only mind of any kind that we are aware of.  So, is it even possible for a rational mind to exist? To answer this question, first the term must be defined.

Please send any links or publications that you might think help to answer this question.



Greg Swann said...

Obviously human beings are everything professional rent-seekers say they are not. Human beings who understand the nature of their own minds are indomitable -- impossible to exploit.

I'll take this up at my place and link back. My short answer for now is that the terminology is so loose as to be useless.

Greg Swann said...

This much, for now. There will be more, but not today. ;)

Cul-De-Sac Hero said...

As it turns out, my long answer is over 3,000 words by now, and I am nowhere near any sort of affirmative argument; nothing so far but illustrations of why determinist claims of all sorts cannot be true of human beings. I may end up with a short book.

Intrigued, to say the least. Do you mean that determinist claims and predictions are useless when applied to individuals? I could also imagine an argument that it is useless across a population over time. Once knowledge and opinions are disseminated, the individuals behave differently and population trends change.

I feel as though I'm might be receiving a reading assignment in the future. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Cul-De-Sac Hero said...

Steve Moxon argues that "Everything goes back to the womb," meaning, we're slaves to our genes. Perhaps he is one of the rare genetic determinists that requires Razib Khan at Gene Expression to qualify his statement: More precisely, there are almost no “genetic determinists” as such who adhere to the proposition that genes determine in some physics-like manner the specific manifestation of human nature. Rather, genes matter, just as culture matters. I intend to read more of Steve Moxon's writing just to try to determine how far down the determinist spectrum you have to be to deny your own free will