Friday, July 25, 2008
Shakespeare, Tom. "A World Based on Reason." NEW SCIENTIST July 23, 2008.
I don't hate reason, and I certainly don't want to dispense with rationality. Faced with the rhetoric of a bigot, I reach for rationality every time to counter his prejudices. But I also recognise that the twisted beliefs of racists or homophobes emerge from a complex mix of fears, half-truths and insecurities. Logic and evidence rarely suffice to dislodge them. For me, ethical judgement has three facets. Strong arguments plus good empirical data, certainly, but let's open a place for feelings, emotions and beliefs. They are part of the human approach to making sense of the world and we would be much worse off without them. I reserve the right to be inconsistent, ground my thinking in messy practicalities, and live up to the fundamental messiness of life. Rationality is a tool, not a universal acid. After all, didn't Niels Bohr once retort to a pig-headed colleague: "You aren't thinking. You are just being logical." . . . Read the rest here: http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/dn14385-reason-special-a-world-based-on-reason.html.