Apres Moi Le Deluge

What is 'Rationalism'

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I've heard a lot of Objectivists denounce 'Rationalism' but I've never understood what they mean by it.

From the name I'd guess that its a philosophy based on being rational, which I would have thought to be a good thing.

Is it one of those things where the name is wildly inapropriate to the thing? (ie, like 'fair trade', which is not fair)

And, what are the basics of the philosophy? How is it similar, and how does it differ from, Objectivism?

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I've heard a lot of Objectivists denounce 'Rationalism' but I've never understood what they mean by it.

From the name I'd guess that its a philosophy based on being rational, which I would have thought to be a good thing.

Is it one of those things where the name is wildly inapropriate to the thing? (ie, like 'fair trade', which is not fair)

And, what are the basics of the philosophy? How is it similar, and how does it differ from, Objectivism?

It is a reasoning of sorts, but it is reasoning from a set of ideas, or assumptions that have not been grounded in reality. It is reasoning from floating abstractions. Objective reasoning must always be traceable to real facts.

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In response to an example of Rationalism, I defined the term and indicated how to fix it in this post.

The topic comes up from time to time and you can find all references to Rationalism on THE FORUM by using our "Search" feature.

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I've heard a lot of Objectivists denounce 'Rationalism' but I've never understood what they mean by it.

From the name I'd guess that its a philosophy based on being rational, which I would have thought to be a good thing.

Is it one of those things where the name is wildly inapropriate to the thing? (ie, like 'fair trade', which is not fair)

And, what are the basics of the philosophy? How is it similar, and how does it differ from, Objectivism?

From the AR Lexicon Online:

[Philosophers came to be divided] into two camps: those who claimed that man obtains his knowledge of the world by deducing it exclusively from concepts, which come from inside his head and are not derived from the perception of physical facts (the Rationalists)—and those who claimed that man obtains his knowledge from experience, which was held to mean: by direct perception of immediate facts, with no recourse to concepts (the Empiricists). To put it more simply: those who joined the [mystics] by abandoning reality—and those who clung to reality, by abandoning their mind.

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Thanks :wacko:. I read all your posts, and links, and I think I understand it now.

If I'm right, a Rationalist is person who; deducts from an idea that hasn't been proven through induction (Floating abstractions?) because they think that ideas don't need to relate to the real world.

From the AR Lexicon Online:

QUOTE[Philosophers came to be divided] into two camps: those who claimed that man obtains his knowledge of the world by deducing it exclusively from concepts, which come from inside his head and are not derived from the perception of physical facts (the Rationalists)—and those who claimed that man obtains his knowledge from experience, which was held to mean: by direct perception of immediate facts, with no recourse to concepts (the Empiricists). To put it more simply: those who joined the [mystics] by abandoning reality—and those who clung to reality, by abandoning their mind.

Would Dr Floyd Ferris be an example of an Empiricist, and Professor Robert Stadler an example of a Rationalist? Because Dr Ferris always says things like 'Ideas are irrelevant' and Professor Stadler thinks that he can continue to value the individual mind in an ivory-tower manner, while abandoning it in practice?

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Would Dr Floyd Ferris be an example of an Empiricist, and Professor Robert Stadler an example of a Rationalist? Because Dr Ferris always says things like 'Ideas are irrelevant' and Professor Stadler thinks that he can continue to value the individual mind in an ivory-tower manner, while abandoning it in practice?

Ferris is definitely a concrete-bound, Pragmatist, Empiricist, but Stadler is a more complex case. Like many Rationalists, he scorns applied science and technology opting instead for "pure" theoretical science, but in the beginning, he did have moral principles and valued the human mind. His downfall was his failure to properly answer the question, "What can you do when you deal with people?" Stadler's answer was to abandon his principles and act pragmatically and on the range of the moment just like an unprincipled Empiricist.

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Is it one of those things where the name is wildly inapropriate to the thing? (ie, like 'fair trade', which is not fair)

Just to answer this side question, no. If you're just talking about an oxymoron, which is an allegedly contradictory adjective/noun association used or identified for comic effect like 'American Solopsist Association'. 'Fair trade' is not an oxymoron, it's a lie. If you're suggesting that it is a dishonest agglomeration of incompatible concepts, like 'polarization,' which attempts to put a negative connotation on disagreement to intimidate dissenters, that is what Ayn Rand called a 'package deal.' 'Fair trade' might be considered a package deal, since the actual policies government advocates fold into a 'fair trade' bill will most likely include subsidies, quotas, regulations, explicit or de facto favoritism, and other government intrusions into free market transactions. In other words, 'fair trade' implies that any other trade -- i.e. free trade -- is somehow unfair, when the opposite is the case.

I don't need to say anything about Rationalism because several others have done a fine job of that already.

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Is it one of those things where the name is wildly inapropriate to the thing? (ie, like 'fair trade', which is not fair)

Just to answer this side question, no. If you're just talking about an oxymoron, which is an allegedly contradictory adjective/noun association used or identified for comic effect like 'American Solopsist Association'. 'Fair trade' is not an oxymoron, it's a lie. If you're suggesting that it is a dishonest agglomeration of incompatible concepts, like 'polarization,' which attempts to put a negative connotation on disagreement to intimidate dissenters, that is what Ayn Rand called a 'package deal.' 'Fair trade' might be considered a package deal, since the actual policies government advocates fold into a 'fair trade' bill will most likely include subsidies, quotas, regulations, explicit or de facto favoritism, and other government intrusions into free market transactions. In other words, 'fair trade' implies that any other trade -- i.e. free trade -- is somehow unfair, when the opposite is the case.

I don't need to say anything about Rationalism because several others have done a fine job of that already.

What I meant about the fair trade thing was simply that what people call 'fair trade' (ie, government intervention, price controls, subisidies etc) is in no way fair, and stretches the definition of trade (ie, voluntarily exchanging values). I definitely wasn't saying its an oxymoron or that trade can't be fair. I understand what you say about the package deal and how its used to imply that free trade can't be fair.

And, your right about everyone else explanations of Rationalism being good.

Betsy said:

His downfall was his failure to properly answer the question, "What can you do when you deal with people?" Stadler's answer was to abandon his principles and act pragmatically and on the range of the moment just like an unprincipled Empiricist.

Would that mean his faults were faults in his knowledge, not his morality? Or was their a point where the mistake of knowledge became a mistake of morality? If so, I would think that its at the point where he realises what his research has created (the sound weapon) and instead of doing the proper thing - and removing his sanction from it immediately by denouncing it - he turns in the reporter (who was urging him to be moral) to Dr Ferris's men, and gives a speech supporting it. Or would it be at an earlier point, when he first endorsed the State Science Institute?

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Is it one of those things where the name is wildly inapropriate to the thing? (ie, like 'fair trade', which is not fair)

Not exactly.

The contrast here is between rationalist, and rational. It's an -ism, an institutional reliance on reason only, to the exclusion of the senses. Another way to put it is "reason-ism" -- everything must come from reason and nowhere else. Since you throw away senses and the perceptual world, your thought processes are therefore bound to be self-referencing and disconnected from anything real or actual.

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Betsy said:

His downfall was his failure to properly answer the question, "What can you do when you deal with people?" Stadler's answer was to abandon his principles and act pragmatically and on the range of the moment just like an unprincipled Empiricist.

Would that mean his faults were faults in his knowledge, not his morality? Or was their a point where the mistake of knowledge became a mistake of morality?

Not knowing how to deal with people is simple ignorance and not wrong. Doing something about it that you know is wrong, like using force to achieve your goals, is morally wrong. Acting in defiance of your knowledge of reality or evading that knowledge is a vice.

If so, I would think that its at the point where he realises what his research has created (the sound weapon) and instead of doing the proper thing - and removing his sanction from it immediately by denouncing it - he turns in the reporter (who was urging him to be moral) to Dr Ferris's men, and gives a speech supporting it. Or would it be at an earlier point, when he first endorsed the State Science Institute?

That would be one of the first actions he took in defiance of reality. Here is Stadler explaining why he allowed the State Science Institute to falsely condemn Rearden Metal.

"Dr. Stadler," she asked slowly, "you know the truth, yet you will not state it publicly?"

"Miss Taggart, you are using an abstract term, when we are dealing with a matter of practical reality."

"We are dealing with a matter of science."

"Science? Aren't you confusing the standards involved? It is only in the realm of pure science that truth is an absolute criterion. When we deal with applied science, with technology—we deal with people.. And when we deal with people, considerations other than truth enter the question."

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