|Michael, forgive the extensive block quotes (I know how you hate them so) ...|
I normally use rationality to mean a chosen virtue, not an attribute of a whole human being.But like Aristotle alluded to -- a virtue repeatedly chosen (a moral habit) BECOMES an attribute of a whole human being. You are what it is that you, repeatedly, do.
What is a "rational" person anyway if it is a category of person? Is it like an Oriental person? A short person? A sickly person? A young person? If he has an attack of unwarranted anger, is he no longer a rational person? As is said above, a person is what it is that they repeatedly do. If you repeatedly fly planes -- then you are a pilot. You do not cease to be a pilot in those times between flights. What matters is what persists in your life -- what you persistently chose to do.
When we say a person is "rational" as a general attribute, we are normally talking about his temperament, not just a chosen mental process. We are talking about how he usually behaves. But how he behaves stems from how he thinks. Accepted premises, as well as the emotion that springs from our consciousness of them, are what it is that governs intentional human behavior.
Nobody can be rational all of the time because of the nature of the drift in our minds, biochemical processes and so forth.This is very true, but not very relevant. When I talk about being rational, then I'm talking about daily, normative, decision making -- ie. making daily choices that result an achieved hierarchy of values. In this respect, it doesn't matter that we aren't being rational while we're asleep, or that we aren't being rational while we're day-dreaming. These exceptions to the rule do not carry consequential weight.
btw - I see nothing wrong with the idea of loving New Age hippies. I'm a recovering New Age-er, myself (even had a 'lights-n-sounds' machine to entrain my brain to different wavelengths!), so perhaps I was getting personal when I spoke disparagingly about the New Left. Please forgive me unconditionally, Michael -- and then give me a big hug, you big lug.
If you examine the issue rationally, you will obviously choose good will, but if you do not, whatever falls to you by chance will fall. ... That doesn't mean you are irrational in the rest of your thinking, though. You can be highly rational.Disagreed. You can't be "highly rational" while, at the same time, defaulting on such a basic and objective human responsibility of choosing good will. Think about the anti-social miser, who utilizes his intelligence to accumulate money for its own sake (it's all he lives for). He's acting successfully for a goal, but the goal, itself, is irrational.
This man, as competent as he is at accumulating hoards of cash -- is not being a rational man (and he will never have a fulfilling, happy, human life). Good will is missing from his life, and this will mitigate his own ability to feel fulfilled and happy (because he's human).
I especially don't like phrases like "truly rational" as they smack of trying to redefine terms in the middle of a discussion.I just wanted to highlight the idea that many competent folks will, from the outside, appear rational (while not truly being so) -- like the competent miser mentioned above.
(Edited by Ed Thompson on 9/14, 3:00pm)