Cognitive rationality is matching one's beliefs with reality. Instrumental rationality is choosing effective means to achieve one's goals. Achieving one's goals in the real world necessarily demands that one's beliefs be consistent with the independent reality that stands over against us. Teleological rationality is choosing the right goals as established by the objective moral order ordained by God.

Logic can be rational in some cases and not others. Science can be rational in some cases and not others. The same with emotions, intuitions, art, and religious faith. Let's consider logic in this regard. Logic can clearly spell out the assumptions and the argument structure that lead people to the conclusions they are propounding. The clarity of these arguments can verify the truth of the claim one is making so that one has a clear and distinct idea of it. If there is an error in the reasoning, then the clarity of articulating the argument allows one to identify and correct the mistake. On the other hand, there are cases where the knowledge that is necessary to draw a conclusion is implicit, so that the premisses cannot be clearly spelled out. For example, as Michael Polanyi has observed, it is impossible to fully describe how to ride a bicycle. Much of what distinguishes expert from advanced novice levels of knowledge of a skill is unarticulable knowledge. In these cases, habit and intuition get at the truth more effectively than more explicit approaches to understanding. The reductionist approach in science runs into similar shortcomings. For example, if a scientifically knowledgeable young man tries to woo a young lady he is in love with by explaining very clearly how she affects his hormones and neurotransmitters, he is likely to be unsuccessful as well as failing to accurately describe the experience of falling in love.

It is not always rational to gain every extra bit of information before making a decision. Economists recognize this principle and term it "rational ignorance." The time and energy of gaining additional information past a certain point may not be rewarded with greater effectiveness in making the decision. In most cases, it is more effective to specialize in a few areas and then trust others to gain the necessary information to meet a range of needs that one is not meeting oneself. For example, it is more efficient to specialize in whatever one is interested in and talented in and then trade with others for what one needs. This principle is called "comparative advantage." The same principle is at work in faith in God. We have faith in our mechanic or doctor who is more able than we are, so it is with God. Faith is only as good as the object of one's faith. Faith is not some mysterious power radiating out from the person, but rather simply trusting someone who is more able for a particular task.

Artistic expression can be rational since it possesses a systematic structure that can be delineated formally. More importantly, artistic expression can touch the viewers or hearers in a more immediate, intuitive way that more effectively communicates the intended message than more analytic expressions of the same truths.

Emotions themselves can be rational since we can judge people's emotional reactions as appropriate or inappropriate, e.g. if someone cries uncontrollably upon tasting a carrot, then we can immediately see that something is amiss in the person's emotional life. As Aristotle observed, the key to a balanced life is to feel the appropriate emotion, to the appropriate degree, and directed toward the appropriate person or object. Emotions motivate people to act, identify what is salient in their surroundings, and coordinates human actions. The last point is made by philosopher Allan Gibbard who argues that if each person acts on the apt emotion as they interact with one another, conflicts will be minimized. For example, if one person acts so that he violates another's rights, the victim will feel and express anger. As the aggressor senses the victim's anger, he will be motivated to remedy the wrong, otherwise there will be more severe actions taken by the victim to redress the wrong. The guilt and shame that the aggressor feels will restore harmony to the relationship.

Choosing the appropriate goals in life will make the person's life more fruitful and more satisfying. Choosing goals that are inconsistent with the objective moral order of the universe will lead to frustration and personal injury. Again, rationality is a matter of harmony between the individual, his social and natural environment, and God.
Listen to the voice of reason...it might be calling to you where you least expect it...Rationality is simply listening to reality.
by Tex in Tex February 06, 2008
1 more definition
Top Definition
see logical.
The ability to reason. A quality lacking in most. A good rule of thumb is, those who claim to be rational are the least rational. Virtually non-existant in political circles worldwide. While not important to happiness, the world needs rational people to function. No one knows why.
Hey man, i'm the most rational mofo in here.
Oh no you ain't.
by Moses June 16, 2004

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