The difference between illogical and irrational.

Strafio
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The difference between illogical and irrational.

Some of you will have noticed that I've done this topic before.
Well I'm doing it again, but better this time! Eye-wink

The difference between Irrational and Illogical

kmisho wrote:
By the way I use the terms reason and logic as interchangeable. I've tried to come up with a difference that sticks but haven't found one.

I think I have.
If I was to say that someone's beliefs were irrational, I'd be saying that they weren't reasoning or thinking.
If I was to say that someone's beliefs were illogical then I'd be saying that there's a logical flaw in their beliefs. (doesn't say anything about them in person)
So rational is an evaluation of the person's efforts to attain the belief and logical is an evalution of the beliefs themselves.

I think people generally perceive this difference too.
People use the word 'rational' in everyday language and will call someone irrational if they're not thinking. 'Logical' is more associated with strict science and if someone is called illogical then they'll likely associate that with being a fallible human rather than a mathematical robot! Eye-wink

How a theist's illogical beliefs can be rational
I think we agree that theism is illogical so if you have fully analysed/understood what theism is then holding the belief would be irrational. (acting against reason)
So can someone rationally hold an illogical belief?

We don't apply logical methods to every belief we get.
Our intuition deals with most of them. If our intuition says fine then we usually accept a belief without a second thought. If our intuition rings an alarm bell then we stop and start applying methods of critical thinking.
Theistic arguments specialise in appealing to the intuition.
Because we can't apply scepticism to every belief we come across it's perfectly rational to believe things that our intuition has ok'd.

This isn't saying that intuition proves a belief, just that intiution justifies us holding it until reasoning shows us that it was mistaken.
So our intuition can mislead us but we are justified in following it until reason tells us otherwise.

We usually start applying reason to something we believed when we find a problem with it. Perhaps you find you have two beliefs that clash or something your friend believes strongly clashes with something you believe. That's when we have a good reason to analyse these beliefs further - see where the problem lies.
Then we might find that a belief that our intuition ok'd was actually groundless and we have to reject it.

To apply this to theism:
Someone finds belief in a theistic God intuitive.
They are rationally justified in keeping this belief until it has been analysed and shown to be illogical.

That's not to say that a large number of the many theists out there aren't irrational in their belief, just that we judge by their arguments rather than their 'label'.
Thoughts? Smiling
(I think I got it right this time... definately a step forward from last time! Smiling)


AModestProposal
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I've been using them mostly

I've been using them mostly interchangeably, but I think that I've been converted. I agree with this distinction.


todangst
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Strafio wrote:If I was to

Strafio wrote:

If I was to say that someone's beliefs were irrational, I'd be saying that they weren't reasoning or thinking. If I was to say that someone's beliefs were illogical then I'd be saying that there's a logical flaw in their beliefs.

I want to start out by saying this isn't the typical "todangst is here to once again salvage the minds of the unworthy, while spreading his mirth and good cheer' post...

I'm here because this topic interests me and I'm not really all that sure if we can delineate logic from reasoning completely.

Here's my problem: I know what it means when you say that a person isn't be logical. This means that they are unjustifiably moving from their premises to their conclusion, or they are merely asserting.

But what does it mean to say that a person isn't reasoning or thinking? Do you mean that they are in a coma? They are asleep?

No. You don't mean that they are literally just nothing cognating.... so what do you mean here? How are they 'not reasoning'? What are they failing to employ. And can this missing ingredient in fact be logic?

My feeling is that you'll have a very hard time trying to find a way of 'not thinking' that doesn't involve a logical error. But let's talk about it, because I just don't know the answer.

Quote:

So rational is an evaluation of the person's efforts to attain the belief and logical is an evalution of the beliefs themselves.

OK, but wouldn't 'attaining the belief' be logical process in some way? Couldn't the error in attaining the belief be a logical blunder?

I think another concern here is the way humans think. In many ways, I think that we don't use logic... For example, imagine I am going to introduce you to my friend, the cop.

Now stop. Honestly, go over what the ideas that came into your head.

A male. Fat guy. Loves donuts, nascar, wanted to be in the FBI, but couldn't make the grade.

And so on...

And then I introduce you to a young woman, very bright,....hates donutes.... and so on...

So you've made an error in presumption.

The point is that we work through heuristics and schemas... basic assumptions that are build from our experiences..... we are not forming a logical argument, we are just going on a pool of experiences dredged up by the context, and our feelings...

But I don't think that his process is rational either! I think it is merely a feeling-tone, conjured up by a context... which brings to mind various ideas that may help guide a person.... 

 But I'm not sure. 

Quote:

How a theist's illogical beliefs can be rational I think we agree that theism is illogical so if you have fully analysed/understood what theism is then holding the belief would be irrational. (acting against reason) So can someone rationally hold an illogical belief?

Well, my schema example might be an example.... we hold to beliefs illogically because they 'work'.... it is not logical to assume that every cop you will meet will be a man... but it works because in most cases, they are men. We are operating on a small bias fallacy, but our fallacy works enought times to keep to it.

Quote:

We don't apply logical methods to every belief we get. Our intuition deals with most of them.

Quite true, I believe.

Quote:
 

If our intuition says fine then we usually accept a belief without a second thought. If our intuition rings an alarm bell then we stop and start applying methods of critical thinking. Theistic arguments specialise in appealing to the intuition. Because we can't apply scepticism to every belief we come across it's perfectly rational to believe things that our intuition has ok'd.

I agree on almost everything you say save for one point. Yes, it would be exhausting to review every situation critically... "Is this bite of food safe to eat? Yes. This one? Yes. This one? Yes...." This is the reason why we can't do such a thing... the amount of energy and time needed to endlessly examine everything would collapse us all into a coma by noontime.

But the fact that it is prudent to assume that most things will fit our expecations does necessarily mean that the process is rational. In fact, it appears to be driven by passions and desires, - i.e. contingencies from our environment which reward and punish.

In fact, I believe that what this really means is that all of us, are typically irrational - or 'arational'... actually unconscious, in most of the things we do. We don't reason much at all, we react, we assume, we just go,we just act.... we are shaped by the environment.

This is neither rational nor logical... but it works.

Oddly enough, an example of my point just came to me.... Mr. Magoo. Are you old enough to remember those cartoons?

He was a nearsighted man who constantly made 'mistakes' due to his visual problems, but he managed to get the things he wanted to do done.

That is really how we all work....

Quote:

This isn't saying that intuition proves a belief, just that intiution justifies us holding it until reasoning shows us that it was mistaken.

I don't think the assumptions are actually justified... it's just that they dont' fail often enough to discard them. Is this a justification? Not sure.... sounds like it on one level, but then, the process itself seems more automatic, driven by passions, and the contingencies in the environment seem to be the players, not our reason or logic.

It's like a superstition. Are superstitions rational or logical? No. But they 'work' in that they help us quell anxiety over events for which we have no control. They are reinforcing for this reason and for this reason the process appears arational.

 

Quote:

So our intuition can mislead us but we are justified in following it until reason tells us otherwise. We usually start applying reason to something we believed when we find a problem with it. Perhaps you find you have two beliefs that clash or something your friend believes strongly clashes with something you believe. That's when we have a good reason to analyse these beliefs further - see where the problem lies. Then we might find that a belief that our intuition ok'd was actually groundless and we have to reject it. To apply this to theism: Someone finds belief in a theistic God intuitive. They are rationally justified in keeping this belief until it has been analysed and shown to be illogical. That's not to say that a large number of the many theists out there aren't irrational in their belief, just that we judge by their arguments rather than their 'label'. Thoughts? Smiling (I think I got it right this time... definately a step forward from last time! Smiling)

 

I disagree with your conclusion, because a belief need not be rational for it to 'work'.... So they are neither rational nor logical. But I am unsure on this... because I think that pragmatism may well be a 'rational' grounds for a belief.

Let me quickly review, for my own edification, Spinoza on how we come to hold to beliefs:

 Spinoza delineated the types of knowledge into a hierarchy of certainty. Let's take at look.

First was hearsay knowledge - this is knowledge that authorities present to us, that we accept uncritically. Is it rational to hold to things simply because we are told to hold to them? No. Is it prudent and practical? Socially, yes. We avoid punishment and are rewarded.

So these beliefs would be 'rational' only in a secondary sense, it that it would be rational to listen to authorities, or you'll be punished in some way.

The second kind of knowledge is vague experience, not empirical experience, but intuitive grasping of how things work, without really knowing the processes involved. (Explain how to tie a shoelace. Can't do it, right? But you can tie a shoelace.)

I think this concept would be our schemas, our hunches about the world... the things that we hold to because they work. Pragmatism plays an even more direct role here.

Third, immediate deductions, of the type Plato so valued.

Last and best was immediate deduction and direct perception - a working knowlegde - the rational-empirical method! Knowing how something works from the inside, knowing its parts, how it functions, its essence.

Spinoza noted that this kind of knowledge is rare, but that it's truth clearly overwhelmed all other ways of knowing.

 

So it would seem that if a person is operating at stage 1, they are being irrational. Stage two may be rational. The other two are prima facie rational....

 

What do you think?

 We need a behaviorist to show up.

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.


Strafio
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Alright then, let's see

Alright then, let's see where this goes. Smiling
Before I reply, I thought I should make this note:
I often jump into the practical reason as in "they're justified in believing it if believing to it has good consequences".
For this topic, I intend to stick purely to veracity.
When I mention 'practicalities' in this topic, I almost exclusively mean practicalities of acheiving veracity in beliefs rather than 'pragmatism'.

todangst wrote:
Here's my problem: I know what it means when you say that a person isn't be logical. This means that they are unjustifiably moving from their premises to their conclusion, or they are merely asserting.

But what does it mean to say that a person isn't reasoning or thinking? Do you mean that they are in a coma? They are asleep?

No. You don't mean that they are literally just nothing cognating.... so what do you mean here? How are they 'not reasoning'? What are they failing to employ. And can this missing ingredient in fact be logic?

My feeling is that you'll have a very hard time trying to find a way of 'not thinking' that doesn't involve a logical error. But let's talk about it, because I just don't know the answer.


Right. The bit in bold actually isn't what I meant! Smiling
They are rational if they are trying to be logical.
They are logical if they succeed in being logical.
So Descartes, assuming that his God proofs in the meditations were:
a) Genuine rather than attempts to avoid persecution
b) Genuine searches for truth rather than an attempt to make his faith sound rational.
He was rational in his theism as he was attempting to be logical but illogical as his efforts were flawed and his proofs failed.

I can also illustrate what I feel the difference between rational and irrational with this example:
Jim and Jack believe in God. Both use a form of reasoning.
Jack has currently been convinced by the cosmological and teological arguments but is open minded and will return to atheism if he was to find these arguments flawed.
Jim has always believed in God and will give reasons for it citing science, philosophies, common sense etc. However, any attempts to discredit his belief are seen as work of the devil and must be dismissed as sophistry.

I'd say that Jack is rational in his illogical theism and Jim is irrational.
Jack is using logic and reason and inevitably making honest mistakes.
Jim's theistic beliefs aren't subject to reason at all. He just uses reasonable-sounding arguments to defend them.

Quote:
I think another concern here is the way humans think. In many ways, I think that we don't use logic... For example, imagine I am going to introduce you to my friend, the cop.

Now stop. Honestly, go over what the ideas that came into your head.


As it happens, our coppers don't suffer from the same stereotypes that American ones do. They're a lot slimmer for a start! Eye-wink
But back to the point, which was the rationality of natural prejudice:

The intuition/prejudice isn't to be ignored. It doesn't pull these prejudices out of the air. I wouldn't dismiss the prejudice completely. In my opinion, what makes the difference between a rational person and one who is irrationally prejudiced is the former is ready to let go of the prejudice in light of better information while the irrational one sticks to the prejudice no matter what.

Quote:
The point is that we work through heuristics and schemas... basic assumptions that are build from our experiences..... we are not forming a logical argument, we are just going on a pool of experiences dredged up by the context, and our feelings...

But I don't think that his process is rational either! I think it is merely a feeling-tone, conjured up by a context... which brings to mind various ideas that may help guide a person...

we hold to beliefs illogically because they 'work'.... it is not logical to assume that every cop you will meet will be a man... but it works because in most cases, they are men. We are operating on a small bias fallacy, but our fallacy works enought times to keep to it.


I think I agree. Our intuition is more fallible than more sophisticated methods of analysis, but it is our first port of call.
It gives us a good starting point to work from.
I will hold a belief that my intuition okays until I have a reason to think that it had been mislead - perhaps stronger evidence of the opposite or showing that my source was unreliable... etc.

To sum it up:
1) We don't have time to justify every proposition from absolute scepticism
2) Our intuition is mostly right so we are justified in trusting it until there appears to be a problem that requires a more detailed analysis.
Such a problem might be conflicting beliefs or a belief that someone else disagrees with.
3) When we start analysing this belief, we are justified in holding onto it until reasoning shows that our intuition has failed us.

(any use of 'practicalities' in the above ought to be about the practicalities of acheiving veracity rather than usual 'pragmatism' )


On a tangent:
Quote:
The second kind of knowledge is vague experience, not empirical experience, but intuitive grasping of how things work, without really knowing the processes involved. (Explain how to tie a shoelace. Can't do it, right? But you can tie a shoelace.)

I was actually thinking about something like this the other day.
I was thinking about we can all intuitively count and add but the axioms of Peano Arithmetic (the rules we all follow in our Arithmetic) still took mathematicians a lot of hard work to work out! Laughing out loud


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Because "logic" and

Because "logic" and "logical" have specific meanings within specific contexts, I think it safer to keep clear of them when referri ng to human behaviour.
I'd suggest substituting "consistent" and "consistency."

Since I believe that my Coffee Mug (may it's rim never be chipped!) is an all-powerful deity - indeed, the only real deity there is - I am behaving consiistently if I place it upon an alter and offer it libations, prayers and praise.
Being "logical" or "illogicl" doesn't come into it.
If I believe it requires me to offer up sacrifices, in order to be consistent with my belief, I must do so. (Which may explain- though I am not saying it does - why my neighbourhood has numerous home-made signs around it asking if anyone's seen a bunch of missing cats.)

God had no time to create time.


Strafio
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Yeah. When I said a belief

Yeah. When I said a belief is 'logical' it wasn't referring to the behaviour of the person (that's what I used 'rational' for) I was referring to the content of the belief, whether it stands up to logical analysis or whether a flaw/contradiction would be found.