Humans are not the "rational animal"
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Contrary to Aristotle's statement that "Humans are the rational animal" the case that we are not is far more compelling
1. an attitude towards a proposition or claim
2. an acceptance that a statement is true
- based on or in accordance with reason or logic:
Aristotle maintained that humans are different from lower animals in that we have a rational soul, despite the fact that we are capable of ignoring or forgetting it. Aristotle also comes to the conclusion that the contemplative life is the highest kind of life for humans, who have rational souls, much as Plato's Socrates taught us that the scrutinized life, examined by reason, is the life worth living.
My question is which is more fundamentally human: reason, or belief? I argue it's the latter.
It is for all of these reasons I affirm that humans are not the rational animal
Aristotle was wrong about humans being primarily rational animals. Not because human irrationality proves that we aren’t rational. Aristotle didn't think we are always rational, just that we have the unique capacity to be rational. But there is something more fundamental that distinguishes humans from other animals. We are believing animals. Aristotle is right in that I differ from the insects in my yard because I can reason in ways they can’t. However, a bigger difference between those animals and myself is that I believe in ways they can’t – how it is appropriate to behave in different spaces, about the cosmos, etc.
The anchoring bias finds that how we appraise information is affected by how the issue was initially presented.
If X is the first way I hear an issue framed, we are more likely to use X as the standard by which we judge subsequent arguments about that issue. These three biases along with MANY others point to our tendency towards preserving existing beliefs rather than rising above them to challenge them with reason.
(1) People tend to defend beliefs they hold much more often and enthusiastically than they honestly entertain arguments against their beliefs.(2) The more a person is challenged on beliefs important to them, the more anger is likely to seep into the discussion; and(3) People are rarely happy to be presented with insinuations that they are wrong or to admit flaws in their beliefs. (Note the asymmetry between what happens in arguments and the elation that often happens in echo-chamber spaces where people collectively confirm a belief they share.)
I would start my debate by asking an elementary idea, if everything is similar and irrational then it becomes the ideal rationality of the society. i.e. if everyone is irrational then it becomes rational for that society. Aristotle calls humans a rational animal because he compares us to animals. animals lack basic rationality and responsibility, they live just for the sake of living. they live without any form of morality and rationality, we humans are certainly more rational than them.if we look and compare ourselves to animals we will find that we are far more rational than them.
here is an interesting argument that we humans are believing animals and are not rational and I will ask my opponent a straightforward question, we humans are different from animals in the aspect that we can believe, we humans have our own beliefs, how exactly can a human have a belief system without actually having the basic rationality to identify which belief suits us the best? if we humans are not rational then why are we unique in the aspects of virtue, ideals, and beliefs? how can we even have a debate on this particular topic if we are not unique and rational in the first place?
this is indeed a fascinating argument, anchoring bias is a faulty heuristic, it is a flaw that keeps us from calling ourselves completely rational but I will put a very fundamental question here, why is this bias so common in the case of humans? it is because we humans can reason in the first place, to ease the process of reasoning in situations and to take quick decisions. this is because the mind can reason and be rational even if such rationality is not correct but at the very end of the day this capability is unique to humans. we, humans, can prioritize such pieces of information because we have subconscious rationality.
it is also quite incorrect to assume that a person is more likely to go with statement X while deciding if statement X is the first thing that he hears. it is a very subjective and varied idea, this statement will vary from person to person depending on the person that you chose for this experiment. some people fall into this category and some people stand out as exceptions hence it is quite incorrect to assume that humans will follow this very basic structure. the entire point is that there are exceptions to this is the fact that humans are rational on some level, all humans at the very end of the day are more rational than other animals.
this idea is also very interesting because of the fact a human is enthusiastic about discussing the topics and things he likes and feels anger when the topic or object is opposed. this entire thing is because we humans have evolved emotions, we feign affection with our beliefs, but there is a dilemma here, this statement again is quite subjective. many people will not fall into this idea, some people accept the criticism of their beliefs and yet follow them it is because they are rational about it. we have beliefs at the very end of the day because we are conscious and rational about objects, ideas, and topics that suit us the best, we pick such beliefs at the very of the day because we find them rationally inclining with our interests and personality. we humans are rational about our personality as well.with all of these arguments, I can conclude that we humans are more rational than other animals as we are aware and rational about picking and choosing our beliefs. we are aware of our interest and choose to defend it because we find it reasonable and rational to do so. and other animals lack such ability, hence we are rational animals.
The point is not to say we don't reason and exalt belief, but to say that the latter plays a more important role in our lives than the ‘rational animal’ view suggests.If anything, belief and reason are complementary. While reason helps us cope with uncertainty by giving us a means to think things through, belief helps us cope with uncertainty by allowing us to feel respite from it. If all we ever did was maintain our existing beliefs, we would never progress or adapt in a changing world. But if all we ever did was reason, we would never be able to rest in any security about anything we believe. Of course, neither Aristotle nor any other ‘rational animal’ human-definer suggest that reasoning should be omnipresent in our lives at the expense of belief: they just suggest that we persistently test our beliefs against reason (our own and others’). I suggest by contrast that while we should sometimes do just this, too much of it would be too disorienting and exhausting for most humans to find livable.Assume, for instance In my opinion, global warming is an actual phenomenon caused by humans. I get a lot of benefits from this idea, one of several that I have. It first completes some gaps in my understanding of the world, including how it functions and how I relate to it. Secondly, it provides me with a tool to help me decide how I'm going to get around that globe. Third, my belief provides me with a framework within which to judge what evidence to take seriously and what to disregard when presented with differing perspectives on climate change and related concerns. In a similar vein, my belief enables me to justify to myself the existence of this range of opinions. It's not because there are too many complexities in the world for some people to validly come to different conclusions, it’s because I see the world correctly, whereas those who disagree with me are either mistaken or wrongly motivated. My belief might even help me organize the world into good and bad people and help me socially bond with the good. If I lose my belief, then I lose all of that. Our minds want an understanding about the world that marries accuracy, workability, and efficiency. We want beliefs that give us a sense that we understand the world well enough (accuracy) that we can better think about and navigate it (workability) in manageable ways (efficiency). This is true for small beliefs – like what diet is healthiest – to large beliefs, like my political or religious beliefs. Understandings that satisfy some acceptable combination of accuracy, workability, and efficiency become beliefs, and the more a belief satisfies me, the more I will come to rely on it. And the more I come to rely on it, the more upholding it becomes important to me.