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Using the terms "Rational" or "Rationalist" as an insult

Ehav4Ever

Well-Known Member
I was recently involved in a discussion where someone called me a "rationalist" as a type of insult. I would even say that the term was used as if to say that being "rational" is outside of some norm. Further, the person accused me of "rebranding" when interesting enough they often were using the same terms that I had already used prior to their use of such terms.

Since I try to stay away from making generalizations about people because I know that people and their methods are more complex than one word generalizations I feel like I need to respond to this type of claim and also to the mis-information that was written about me in that same thread.

So, I will state the following.
  1. The term rationalist is not an insult because in reality most people, even those who are misled, think they are rational in their views.
  2. Very important is that I don't define myself as a "rationalist" since those I learned from don't use that word to self-define, even if by our actions we are.
  3. Even when correctly used about someone, being a rationalist is not an insult because most people would agree that people should be rational.
  4. Not beleiving in something doesn't make someone a rationalist no more than beleiving in something makes someone rational, and vice versa.
  5. Studying and investigating facts (to the best one of one's abilities) from a vast array of sources and taking a position is 100% logical.
  6. It is 100% rational to recognize that there are different views, as well as the ability for all, some, or none of them to be correct or incorrect.
  7. Lastly, even the most mystical or magically inclined people consider themselves and thier views to be "rational."
 

mikkel_the_dane

My own religion
I was recently involved in a discussion where someone called me a "rationalist" as a type of insult. I would even say that the term was used as if to say that being "rational" is outside of some norm. Further, the person accused me of "rebranding" when interesting enough they often were using the same terms that I had already used prior to their use of such terms.

Since I try to stay away from making generalizations about people because I know that people and their methods are more complex than one word generalizations I feel like I need to respond to this type of claim and also to the mis-information that was written about me in that same thread.

So, I will state the following.
  1. The term rationalist is not an insult because in reality most people, even those who are misled, think they are rational in their views.
  2. Very important is that I don't define myself as a "rationalist" since those I learned from don't use that word to self-define, even if by our actions we are.
  3. Even when correctly used about someone, being a rationalist is not an insult because most people would agree that people should be rational.
  4. Not beleiving in something doesn't make someone a rationalist no more than beleiving in something makes someone rational, and vice versa.
  5. Studying and investigating facts (to the best one of one's abilities) from a vast array of sources and taking a position is 100% logical.
  6. It is 100% rational to recognize that there are different views, as well as the ability for all, some, or none of them to be correct or incorrect.
  7. Lastly, even the most mystical or magically inclined people consider themselves and thier views to be "rational."

Yeah, here is the standard observation of that game:
Person #1: I am rational and I know that X is Y and not Z.
Person #2: No, I am rational and I know that X is Z and not Y.
Me: Well, I am irrational and I am still here, so maybe it has nothing to do in the strong sense about being rational.

Rational is a power word used to claim objective authority over a judgment in most cases for everyday humans.
In practice rationality is a limited human behavior and only works for a limited set of situations. But some people want to make it universal and claim it works on everything. Even logic doesn't do that.
 

Heyo

Veteran Member
I was recently involved in a discussion where someone called me a "rationalist" as a type of insult. I would even say that the term was used as if to say that being "rational" is outside of some norm. Further, the person accused me of "rebranding" when interesting enough they often were using the same terms that I had already used prior to their use of such terms.

Since I try to stay away from making generalizations about people because I know that people and their methods are more complex than one word generalizations I feel like I need to respond to this type of claim and also to the mis-information that was written about me in that same thread.

So, I will state the following.
  1. The term rationalist is not an insult because in reality most people, even those who are misled, think they are rational in their views.
  2. Very important is that I don't define myself as a "rationalist" since those I learned from don't use that word to self-define, even if by our actions we are.
  3. Even when correctly used about someone, being a rationalist is not an insult because most people would agree that people should be rational.
  4. Not beleiving in something doesn't make someone a rationalist no more than beleiving in something makes someone rational, and vice versa.
  5. Studying and investigating facts (to the best one of one's abilities) from a vast array of sources and taking a position is 100% logical.
  6. It is 100% rational to recognize that there are different views, as well as the ability for all, some, or none of them to be correct or incorrect.
  7. Lastly, even the most mystical or magically inclined people consider themselves and thier views to be "rational."
I would like rationalist to be used as an "insult".
It would clear up the debate as people then could show their true colours (again). Irrational people could be proudly irrational and don't have to redefine rationality just to be in the in-group.
 

mikkel_the_dane

My own religion
I would like rationalist to be used as an "insult".
It would clear up the debate as people then could show their true colours (again). Irrational people could be proudly irrational and don't have to redefine rationality just to be in the in-group.

The problem is that rational in regards to objective, is not the same as for inter-subjective and subjective, but some people treat rational as being the same method for all 3.
 
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dybmh

דניאל יוסף בן מאיר הירש
I would like rationalist to be used as an "insult".
It would clear up the debate as people then could show their true colours (again). Irrational people could be proudly irrational and don't have to redefine rationality just to be in the in-group.

Here's the comment that triggered this thread. You can decide if it's an insult.

That was what was said about it. Not following the rules isn't causing the death, defects, deformities, etc... Following them won't magically fix the problems, nor is it that following them, magically, in the past, would have prevented them. That was not said, nor intended. I'm quite sure because that is not rational. But, misunderstanding what was meant is perfectly rational based on what was said, based on the non-answers you rec'd

To be clear, I was helping to decode what another person said. Their approach is not my approach. They are a strict rationalist who is adverse to religion. And, don't worry at all about using the word supernatural with me. The Torah IS supernatural. Divinity IS supernatural. I think it's silly to deny it.
 

Ehav4Ever

Well-Known Member
Here's the comment that triggered this thread. You can decide if it's an insult.
Yes, especially this statement in particular.

1681676200427.png


Also, this one:
QUOTE:
1681676768583.png

END OF QUOTE:

Don't think of it as triggering but when 1 person writes something about another person it is an obligation to respond. ;)
 
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Heyo

Veteran Member
Here's the comment that triggered this thread. You can decide if it's an insult.
Value-neutral statement of fact - in my opinion.
But offense is taken, not given. What is important to me, is that rationality gets taken as that, value-neutral. It is over-hyped in our society as an objective, absolute good and no-one wanted to be called irrational.
I do value rationality but that is my personal, subjective opinion. If you don't like it, that's OK.
 

Ehav4Ever

Well-Known Member
One of the issues I have with the use of statements like "Strict Rationalist" is because often the definitions some people use are that a person is this one thing and nothing else. I.e. the strict adjective being added.

1681714799674.png


For example, one definition of a rationalist is:

1681713470388.png


If someone intends that this is a definition then I would say this does not define me at all, especially if I am described as being "strict."

Another definition from Britannica:

1681713684980.png
vs.
1681713766070.png


I am not strict to either of these methods of thinking, or any particular one. Where I fall on something is going to depend on the situation or the topic. Thus, often when I am discussing an issue I try to provide as many valid views of it as possible and it is one of the reasons I try to research the various positions that exist and also often ask someone how they define themselves when possible before assume them to be in or even strict to any position. For example, there are times when someone is not stating their opinion on a topic but is instead just providing information about a particular position, or positions, that they either know about, find interest in, take into perspective, or agree with.

Thus,
  1. Saying someone is being rational in a particular situation is one thing. (It leaves open the possibility that on a different topic they might now be so rational.)
  2. Saying that someone is a "rationalist' is another thing, especially if the basis of saying so is due to a difference of views.
  3. Saying that someone is a "strict rationalist" means something else. I.e. what is the difference between a "rationalist" and a "strict rationalist?"
Stating this, rather than just saying "I have different point of view..." or "I don't agree....." Also, I try my best not to put words in people's mouth. I rather that they define what they are and aren't and I go by whatever they present, and if I disagree in a way where I will discuss the matter I will stick to make sure I am correctly reprenting their definiton of themselves and not mine.
 

Ella S.

*temp banned*
I would like to point out that there is a major difference between being "rational" and being a "rationalist."

I am both a strict epistemic rationalist and a moral rationalist. The former means that I view our rational faculty as the sole means for approximating truth, in a vein very similar to Descartes. The latter means that I hold that fundamental moral truths are defined a priori as axioms, although for me this is mostly a semantic issue rather than a metaphysical one.

This is in contrast to, say, empistemic empiricism, which is far more prevalent among non-believers on this forum and holds that sensory perceptions are the chief source of knowledge. It is also in contrast to forms of moral philosophy where morality is derived from one's conscience, such as in moral sentimentalism, which I also recognize as common among non-believers here.

Empiricism and sentimentalism are not irrational philosophies and they are usually aptly defended with reason, even though they are both at odds with rationalism.

As a rationalist, I am tempted to argue for why I think that rationalism is the most reasonable conclusion here, but that would be a different argument. Being rational does not mean that you are right. It just means you're following the rational impulse. As @mikkel_the_dane points out, it shouldn't be used as a "power word" to lend judgmental authority to a particular position, but it should be reserved for describing a very particular process.
 
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