Are we logical? Do we act in a rational way, globally?
In this post I will talk about rationalization, logic and the scientific approach. We will see how these approaches are important and I will take this opportunity to introduce the concept of logism.
For a start, what is rationalization?
Rationalization is the action of making something more rational, more consistent with reason. Rationalization, in a broad sense, seeks to organize things in a more efficient way by suppressing what is useless and based on logic and science (Tourev, 2018).
I strongly believe that rationalization has a great potential and that it is important or even primordial to put it forward in our thoughts, our choices and our approaches.
Before going any further, it seems important to me to present the functioning of our system of thought, belief, value and action. Because of the limits of our knowledge and the complexity of this function of the brain, this is a simplified presentation.
What is a thought?
A thought is the set of psychic and psychophysiological functions whose object is knowledge, the formation of ideas and judgments, as well as all the phenomena by which these functions are manifested (Juillet, 2000).
More simply, a thought is a mental representation. For example: I think of “a frog.”
What is a belief?
A belief is a thought or proposition that is believed to be true, in a way that one accepts.
For example: I have the belief that “all frogs are green”
What is a value?
A value is a concept resulting from a set of beliefs that define our way of being and acting.
For example: I have the belief that it’s important to tell the truth, I have the belief that you have to be honest with your friends, I have the belief that it’s important to be transparent with people that surround me. So I have the value of “honesty.”
How do our thoughts appear?
Permanent internal and external stimuli generate thoughts influenced by our belief system. The more dominant and present thoughts are, the more they build our beliefs.
As a result, each of our experiences creates thoughts and plays a role in affirming or invalidating our already existing beliefs.
Finally, all of our beliefs play a vital role in helping to decide our actions.
To sum up, our thoughts are influenced by our beliefs and also participate in the creation of new beliefs as well as the modification of existing ones. Finally, our thoughts determine our actions and our behaviors.
As a result, our non-rational beliefs generate irrational thoughts, themselves creating new irrational beliefs and making our behavior irrational.
For example: I have a set of strong beliefs, not rational, expressing the fact that the plane is very dangerous, causing me a disproportionate fear of the plane. I generate new thoughts based on these beliefs, also irrational, such as: “I saw in the news that there was still a plane crash”, “There are very rarely survivors during a plane crash “, etc. These new thoughts reinforce my beliefs that the plane is very dangerous and lead me to avoid the plane and prefer other means of transport seeming safer, thus strongly influencing my behavior irrationally.
In short, the more we have irrational beliefs, the more irrational our thoughts are and the more we reinforce our irrational beliefs and behaviors.
Conversely, the more rational beliefs we have, the more rational our thoughts are and the more we reinforce our rational beliefs and behaviors.
Knowing all this, we can think that it is not possible to act on this permanent process. However, our pre-frontal cortex, the most active brain zone in the mechanism of thoughts, offers us the possibility to control and manipulate our thoughts to more advanced degrees of abstraction (Loumé, 2018). This ability allows us to decide, in a way, thoughts that we validate or reject and thus influence the creation of our beliefs and our way of acting.
We can now wonder how having irrational beliefs is a problem?
To answer this question, I would like to draw your attention to the notions of well-being and happiness.
For the sake of simplification, although well-being and happiness are not considered to be exactly the same notions in the scientific field of philosophy, we will consider them as such in this demonstration.
All beings with the capacity to experience well-being seek it naturally as the ultimate goal.
This proposal is very responsible and very important. It puts forward that from the moment we have the ability to experience happiness, we naturally seek to experience it permanently, either unconsciously or consciously.
This proposal is unanimously accepted today in the scientific field.
If this proposition is true, a more complex question would be to know what is well-being?
Numerous current studies seek to answer this existential question. These include the advanced research of psychologist Edward F. Diener and psychologist Carol Ryff D. on this topic (Ed Diener, Eunkook M. Suh, Richard E. Lucas, and Heidi L. Smith, 1999; Ryff, C. D., Keyes, C. L. M., 1995 ; Ryff C. D.,1989).
This scientific craze on this question can be explained in particular by the economic and political stakes that it arouses (Ahmed, 2010 ; Nettle, 2005).
To sum up, individuals who are able to experience well-being, among others us, human beings, are in a permanent search for it.
There is still no clear consensus on the recipe for well-being. However, one can observe some solid bases of answers.
You may have heard of the “Maslow Pyramid” also known as the “Pyramid of Needs”. It is a hierarchy of the needs of the human species, developed by the psychologist Abraham Maslow in the 1950s.
What is a need?
A need is what is most similar to a necessity of vital, functional, pragmatic order and belongs to the domain of the physiological and the psychological.
In his work, Abraham Maslow established a pyramid hierarchy of physiological and psychological needs for human well-being. It has established a hierarchical scale of five levels where the transition from a lower level to a higher level depends on the satisfaction of needs.
This theory explains in a clear and relatively complete way the human needs. It still received criticism of its limitations. I invite you to take a look at Christophe Peiffer’s “Human Relations Blog” on human needs (Peiffer 2012):
Indeed, according to this model, the transition from a lower level to a higher level can be achieved only if the needs of the first are met. For example, it is quite possible for a person to find meaning in their life with the presence of a physical or mental handicap or a difficult socio-economic situation.
It is not uncommon for people in precarious situations to help others whose situation is as or more difficult. This sense of being useful to something, being recognized for their charitable actions satisfies their needs of esteem, despite unmet or partial security needs.
It would therefore be more appropriate to consider these needs as interconnected to each other with a rather circular dynamic, rather than a hierarchical and priority model. What would look like this type of schema:
Maslow’s needs have the merit of existing and clearly explaining human needs. This being the case, the model does not take into account other factors which, in my opinion, are decisive for the satisfaction of human needs, the first of which is the environment in which an individual evolves.
Although this theory has received some criticism, there seems to be a consensus that in our ultimate goal of experiencing happiness we have basic needs that are necessary to satisfy.
Now I would like to draw your attention to the notion of freedom.
Freedom is the possibility of being able to act according to one’s own will. It is the state of an individual or a people who does not suffer from constraints, submission, servitude exercised by another individual, by a tyrannical power or by a foreign power (Tourev, 2018).
Many recent studies agree that freedom is a vital need for access to the well-being of all individuals who can experience it (Schmidt et Andreas, 2015 ; Hadley, 2013). For this reason, the notion of freedom is essential and should not be neglected in the search for the well-being of all individuals who can experience it.
Moreover, this quest for happiness and most of the needs that it implies, especially freedom, necessary for the individuals of our species, are also necessary for all the other individuals of the infra-order of the apes, the other individuals of the order of primates, other mammalians, other vertebrates, and much of the rest of the animal kingdom (Ian, 2006 ; Chandroo K.P., Duncan I.J.H. et Moccia R.D. 2004).
Now that we have demonstrated the importance of our physiological and psychological needs for ourselves in our quest for well-being, another question seems to me crucial:
Is it rational to show solidarity with others and pay attention to the well-being and needs of others?
To answer this question a little history is needed.
In the face of danger, living organisms tend to form groups. Indeed Darwin’s natural selection has shown that individuals, facing a danger, are more likely to survive together than only their own. Typically our Neanderthal ancestors were more likely to survive by hunting a mammoth at 10 than alone. In the same way, when an individual in the group died, the personal chances of survival of each individual in the group decreased.
Faced with a risk of instability of one or more of our needs, it seems rational to be in solidarity with the individuals with whom we have a personal interest in this or these needs, starting with the needs related to survival.
Although survival needs are a little less under threat today for humans, it still seems rational to be in solidarity with individuals with whom we believe to have a personal interest in one or more of the needs that are necessary for our well-being. be. These include the person or persons with whom one lives, the friends or the close family for personal emotional, emotional, administrative or economic stability.
That being said, it seems to me finally that the question that really matters is:
Is it rational to show solidarity with individuals with whom we have no known personal interest in our well-being?
A typical example would be: Is it rational to pay attention to a stranger, involving paying attention to their well-being and basic needs?
Well, there is no universal rational answer to this question. Indeed, several logical propositions are necessary to answer them that can not be based on the science then implying non-universal personal beliefs.
In other words, the answer to this question belongs to everyone and is a personal choice.
It’s up to everyone to question their beliefs and ask themselves:
Do I want to worry about the well-being of others?
To return to the question asked previously, namely, how is having irrational beliefs is a problem?
Well, it turns out that our irrational beliefs have an unfortunate tendency to go against our well-being, the well-being of others and important values such as freedom. Indeed, throughout this blog / this channel I will be led to question irrational beliefs pushing us to act contrary to our well-being and that of others, I will talk in particular about discrimination between people (sexism, racism, speciesism, etc.), the impacts of our consumption, advertising and media on overall happiness.
Through these different topics we will see that we all have irrational beliefs and that they can push us to generate a lot of suffering at home or in others, and this against our will.
To go further in understanding this psychological and social phenomenon, it seems appropriate to introduce the notion of conditioning.
A conditioning is nothing but an imposed belief, not questioned by oneself. Without much astonishment, the vast majority of our conditioning appears during our childhood.
Again, one wonders what is the problem with conditioning?
Well it turns out that imposed conditionings or beliefs are a great source of irrational beliefs.
Some examples of conditioning are irrational: women are not very good at mathematics, that radio waves are bad for health, you have to drink milk to have strong bones, you have to give presents at Christmas, the smoke emanating from the chimneys nuclear power plants pollute the environment, etc.
To summarize a little, we have seen that our conditioning includes irrational beliefs and that these are at the origin of new irrational beliefs and push us to think and act irrationally. Moreover, these irrational beliefs, thoughts, and actions prevent us from acting freely and incite us to do things against our will such as to harm the happiness and well-being of ourselves and others.
I would like to propose a solution in response to this problem that seems to me to be of the greatest importance.
Our thought system is controlled by our pre-frontal cortex allowing us advanced manipulation of our thoughts. And it is at this moment that the concept of logism comes into play.
So, what is logism?
Logism is a tool, a method inviting us to make the effort to examine our thoughts and thus filter those irrational to keep rational ones. I logically take the personal step of integrating rationalization into one’s way of living and thinking.
Before finishing, let’s take a look at the advantages of a rational approach:
- A rational approach allows positive selection of rational thoughts and beliefs.
- It invites us to question our conditioning, giving us greater freedom. Indeed, the less we are conditioned, the freer we are to think freely.
- In addition, leaving our conditioning behind allows us to increase our knowledge by all the steps of reflection and scientific research that implies allowing a better understanding of the world around us.
- These three elements together provide access to greater control over who we want to be, our thoughts, our beliefs and our behaviors giving us access to greater freedom.
- Finally, this freedom gives us the opportunity to choose more freely our goal of life.
Liberate yourself of your conditioning and change the world.
Ahmed Sara (2010, April). The Promise of Happiness. Duke University Press, Durham and London
Chandroo K.P., Duncan I.J.H. et Moccia R.D. (2004). Can fish suffer?: perspectives on sentience, pain, fear and stress. Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, University of Guelph
Christophe Peiffer (2012). Les besoins humains. Retrieved from the site: http://www.leblogdesrapportshumains.fr/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Les-besoins-humains.pdf
Daniel Nettle (2005, 12 of May). Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile. OUP Oxford
Ed Diener, Eunkook M. Suh, Richard E. Lucas et Heidi L. Smith (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Hadley John (2013). Liberty and valuing sentient life. Ethics and the Environment 18 (1):87-103
Ian J.H. Duncan (2006, Octobre). The changing concept of animal sentience. Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ont., Canada N1G 2W1
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Ryff C. D. et Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(4), 719-727.
Ryff C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6), 1069-1081.
Schmidt et Andreas T. (2015). Why Animals have an Interest in Freedom. Historical Social Research 40, 4, 92-109
Tourev Pierre (2018). Liberté. Retrieved from the site: http://www.toupie.org/Dictionnaire/Liberte.htm
Tourev Pierre (2018). Rationalisation. Retrieved from the site: http://www.toupie.org/Dictionnaire/Rationalisation.htm