What is Rational Thinking?
Robert A. Herrmann, Ph.D. 21 APR 2014. Last revision 15 APR 2021.
A course in elementary Mathematical Logic (1) presents in a general linguistics form, among many other notions, what constitutes the rationally applied rules that lead from a set of hypothesis to descriptive conclusions. These rules are what humans have used for thousands of years to construct our man-made universe and predict physical behavior. They are defined in terms of a "language." Applying such rules, especially in the area of hypothesis choice, is a well-known and even measurable aspect of "intelligence." Relative to a general language, the remarkable "higher-intelligence" actions displayed by the General Intelligent Design (GID) Model are mathematically predicted from two describable modes of inference (deduction) and described relations between physical-systems.
Among other results, these actions are designed to yield the described physical objects and behavior that satisfy all of the exceptionally complex rationally described physical laws. The "higher"-intelligence being so displayed has measurable properties. Interesting "physical-like" entities and "higher" modes for deduction are predicted. These higher-forms of inference we cannot duplicate and they are relative to a predicetd "higher-language." One form is applicable to all probabilistic physical laws. Certain statements using this higher-language can be comprehended. These describe an "ultra"-rational substratum process, an "ultranatural" law, that yields the info-fields from which our universe and other non-physical entities are formed. The terms "higher" and "ultra" have properties expressible via a technical mathematics language. Relative to the substratum and our physical world this technical language requires an interpretion. For comprehension, these "ultra" and "higher" rules or processes can often be compared with the standard general language methods we use to describe what is generally referred to as "rational thinking."
When compared to the vast majority of individuals, a persons behavior can be consider as "irrational" based upon various displayed conditions. However, relative to what is meant within the material I present on this website, what constitutes "rational" or "irrational" thinking refers to "languages" - to linguistic expressions - that correspond to symbolic forms, observable physical objects or physical behavior and specific rules for such logically expressed thoughts. In Herrmann (2002), it is shown that "rational thinking" also applies to visual images. It is assumed that when a language is considered that the vast majority that claim to "comprehend" the meanings for the terms employed all have approximately the same electro-chemical brain processes occurring. What constitutes "rational thinking" cannot be meaningfully explained unless the reader and this author process the same information contained in the language-elements employed to describe the concept.
Intuitively, the subject "Logic" is generally considered to be, at the least, the study of the described rules that one needs to follow in order to "deduce" symbolic forms. Such rules can also predict described physical objects and their described behavior; that is general descriptions that correspond to the actual physical behavior as observed by the vast majority of humanity. For the majority, the thousands of daily choices that lead to human physical behavior within our physical environment, when presented in linguistic form, follow the same described rules when the translated rules are compared. One reason for this is that our man-made environment is constructed by application of such rules and if a brain is not functioning in the same manner as the brains of those who have constructed this environment, then ones ability to function in such an environment is impaired. Significantly, such "rules" also apply to images and other forms of sensory information. A symbolic language and these additional sensory impressions yield a "general language" and "general descriptions." As is often the case, this basic aspect of "Logic" is often not apparent when one applies abstract mathematical notions to abstract representations for a language.
The language used in modern scientific discourse uses a fixed set of language-elements. The rules themselves need to be assiduously applied. This is especially so when a mathematical structure is employed. In general linguistic form, the rules are often learned by replicating the forms of "logical argument" employed by others. From the basic rules, many additional rules can be established. Historically, a basic rule is accepted when a vast majority agree with the rule relative to actual application or observation. Relative to logical discourse of this type, there are certain aspects that are accepted. Usually, such rules are not as explicitly stated as in the subject Mathematical Logic. But, various ones can be step-by-step exhibited when physical hypotheses are employed to construct our man-made universe or used to predict observable physical behavior from established "physical laws."
(1) For 2,350 years, the rules for inference, when applied to observed hypotheses, have been shown, via actual observation (experiences), to yield valid predictions. However, many other rules are applied, even in formal deductions. It is not the purpose of this article to describe the specific rules that are applied. They are most often expressed informally in various ways. As discussed elsewhere, to properly apply the mathematics used to model physical events, the rules tend to employ both human mental and physical abilities. In order to apply the rules, choosing, from what can be an infinite set of hypotheses, is a major requirement. The ability to apply such rules accurately and making appropriate choices constitute measures of intelligence.
(2) A general language and various expressed rules apparently mimic electro-chemical processes that the vast majority of human brains employ as we go about our daily activities.
(3) Certain general rules are independent from the category of physical entities to which they apply and properties they relate. These rules hold for any describable category and describable property for objects in the category. The basic rules of inference used in classical logic have this property.
(4) If a considerable number of actual observations show that a prediction (deduction) is not fact (is false), then one of the hypotheses is most likely not fact. Hypothesis selection is of considerable significance.
(5) The basic rules for deduction yield many other rules for deduction used throughout linguistic predictions.
(6) Using scientific (classical) logic and a set of hypotheses, the most destructive result that is rationally deduced is a contradiction. This means that a statement B and the statement "not B" are correctly deduced. If this should occur, then, given any other statement A, there is a correct deduction from the hypotheses for the statement A. Thus, all of the statements from your general language are predictable and the hypotheses do not predict what is actually observed physically. They do not differentiate between what most human beings would observationally consider to be factually true or false.
(7) The concept of the (linguistic) infinite regress has been discussed by philosophers for thousands of years. Such a notion can occur if one contends that a cosmology has no temporal (i.e. time) "beginning" and one tries to internally describe such a temporal situation. This concept is countered by the GID-model predictions. The problem is mostly relative to the difficulty of comprehending atemporal notions. On the other hand, modern secular science avoids the infinite regress by simply assuming that primitive entities exist. For such entities, this stops any further "speculation" as to the existence of more fundamental entities.
Two examples relative to basic deduction should be sufficient. They are applied to actual categories. Only, intuitively, can one accept the two examples as "correct."
Denote the category of all human beings that were alive during the year 1900 by the symbol A. Let P be the property "b is born of woman," where "b" denotes a member of the selected category. Then I accept that the statement "For each member b of A, P is fact about b." I now apply one of the rules for deduction. It states for this category and P that "there exists a c in A such that P is fact about c." Do I need to mount a great argument that since there were some human beings alive during the year 1900 and they were all born of woman, then there "must" exist a human being "c" who was alive during the year 1900 and who was born of woman? From the viewpoint of what the phrases "For each" and "there exists" mean, I have come to this "trivial" conclusion, somehow or other. Now I seem to understand that this rule holds even if I change the category or the property.
On the other hand, let the property R be "b has red hair." Assume that "there exists a member c of A such that R is fact about c." Then Joe claims that it rationally follows that "for each member b of A, R is fact about b." Since my grandfather did not have red hair, then "for each member b of A, R is fact about b" needs to be considered as a false statement. That is the "for each" part is incorrect since I found one member of A for which R is not fact. But, Joe insists that "for each member b of A, R is fact about b" is correct and he understands the meaning of the phases "for each" and "there exists," respectively. Thus, a basic conclusion is that Joe's electro-chemical brain processes do not seen to correspond to those of the vast majority. In this case, one might state that "Joe is not thinking rationally." And, probably, Joe will need to be separated from an environment, where it is necessary that such brain processes correspond to the vast majority.
I have actually had experiences where I have tried to communicate rationally with an individual whose brain chemistry had been so adversely affected. Of course, my arguments necessarily failed to achieved the desired result.
Thus, briefly, when compared with the vast majority and from a standpoint of electro-chemical brain activity, the notion of "irrational" can refer to not comprehending the generally understood meanings of the terms and phrases used to describe observed physical entities and observed physical behavior, not properly corresponding such terms or phrases to the actual physical world, or not properly processing describable physical behavior in such a manner that it properly predicts future behavior.
You might hear an individual state about an observed event "There must be a rational reason for the event." The actually idea being presented, but not explicitly expressed, is that, from a list of physical objects and behavior given by the atheistic scientific community, there must be physical reasons for the event. The word "irrational" is chosen to intimidate. That is, without further details being stated, if one says that "God did it," then the claim is that your brain chemistry is faulty. Actually, stating that an event is "supernatural" or that "God did it" only implies, in almost all cases, that one does not accept the atheistic list as the only list from which to choose. And that "physical" primitives, their behavior, as well as physical events of all types, can be the result of immaterial actions. As shown on this website, physical and physical-like events, which can be interpreted as theological "supernatural" events, are predicted via a mathematical model. Hence, under this interpretation, such events satisfy the strongest form of rationality used within physical science.
The time may come in the far future when some individuals may comprehend what the following GID-model statement actually means. From a linguistics viewpoint, the higher-intelligence designs an ultraword "A. If A, then B. If B, then C. If C, then D. . . ." where A, B, C, D, . . . are descriptions. Of considerable significance is that the set of deductions A, B, C, D, . . . can be an infinite set. This form of deduction is not the form one considers in a first course in Symbolic Logic. It is a generalized form of deduction used in modern "Universal Logic." A defined "logic-system" is employed.
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