This site is supported by the advertisements on it, please disable your AdBlocker so we can continue to provide you with the quality content you expect.

Welcome to Our Community

Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.

Is rational thought a better survival tool than instinct or superstition?

Discussion in 'The Philosopher' started by Lord Foul, Nov 10, 2005.

  1. Lord Foul

    Lord Foul I don't spank men

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Messages:
    4,209
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Sunnyvale, CA
    Yes, I am aware that I am framing this topic in the context of a rational argument, but it seems fitting that rational thought as a survival tool meet it's own criteria for consistency.
     
  2. Laeth MacLaurie

    Laeth MacLaurie New Metal Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2005
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Depends on how you define "rational." If you mean behavior based on risk/reward calculations or the observation of reality, then yes, it is a survival tool.

    As it is, the consequences of Enlightenment "rationalism" are slowly killing us.
     
  3. speed

    speed Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2001
    Messages:
    5,192
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    48
    I'd agree Laeth.

    Generally superstitions are borne out of real situations and events; so there may be some truth to not walking alone in the woods at night other than a werewolf, or protecting your young virgin daugther or intended at night because of a vampire.

    But instinct takes over in survival situation--its far more primal. One hears repeatedly of persons surviving dangerous situations due solely to instinct. Rationality is a luxury of civilization.
     
  4. Vital Remains

    Vital Remains Just a Man

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    Messages:
    1,038
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    In a big building
    rational thought my man
     
  5. Cythraul

    Cythraul Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2003
    Messages:
    6,754
    Likes Received:
    133
    Trophy Points:
    63
    No it's a precondition for civilization.
     
  6. speed

    speed Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2001
    Messages:
    5,192
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Sort of a chicken and egg scenario. Did rationality come before or after civilization?
     
  7. derek

    derek Grey Eminence

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2005
    Messages:
    18,777
    Likes Received:
    66
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Edinburgh, U.K.
    I can't see why there cannot be any transcendent notion of rationality. Its due to the poverty of our imaginations that we ascribe the coming about of such a notion to ourselves.
     
  8. Dushan S

    Dushan S Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2005
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Chicken and egg have came together all along... Even if you are creationist :D
    Can't we say that rationality, logos had its evolution as an integral part of the civilization and society?
     
  9. Cythraul

    Cythraul Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2003
    Messages:
    6,754
    Likes Received:
    133
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Think of it this way: You wouldn't have civilization without rationality because rationality is partly constitutive of institutional phenomena.
     
  10. The Deacon Dr. O

    The Deacon Dr. O New Metal Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2005
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Instinct is valubal in the short term, but rationality is far more usefull in the large scale of things. When man is in a dangerous or potentially dangerous situation, instinct prepares you to deal with whatever threat is looming - your senses heighten so you can see and react to danger faster, adrenaline increases so that you can run or fight better. However, rationality allows you to recognize and avoid dangerous situations, prepare yourself for danger better, (learning to fight, making weapons, planning escape routes, etc.)
     
  11. sonofhendrix13

    sonofhendrix13 some loser

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Messages:
    267
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    Gloucester, MA
    Instinct is a better survival tool than rational thought by far. However, it manifests itself negatively in large populations and in civilization in general. Rational thought gives birth to morals which are completely necessary for large, advanced populations to survive and live comfortably. If people acted solely on instinct, murder, rape, and theft would be a natural part of life. Communities therefore can't base their laws on instinct because it would promote chaos. It is instinct, not rational thought that is slowly killing us.
     
  12. speed

    speed Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2001
    Messages:
    5,192
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Arent murder, rape and theft natural parts of human life? I mean they happen everyday.

    However, rationality has killed far more than instinct. How many humans have been murdered at the altar of progress? LEts take the Chinese and the Soviets for example. Regimes based on a rational scientific socialism, that butchered tens of millions of their own people for the rational belief--that we find today to be an idiotic dream-of some sort of progress. Furthermore, think of how adept the Nazi's were at killing because of the rational and systematic killing of people in gas chambers etc.

    So you see, I think instinct is far more personal and it only occasions to harm just a few people, whereas rationality allows for systematic wholesale slaughter.
     
  13. derek

    derek Grey Eminence

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2005
    Messages:
    18,777
    Likes Received:
    66
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Edinburgh, U.K.
    ^Couldn't that be construed as a bastardised version of rationality, though?
     
  14. Cythraul

    Cythraul Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2003
    Messages:
    6,754
    Likes Received:
    133
    Trophy Points:
    63
    more like a complete fucking fallacy. Those people and their motives were the cause of all that shit, not their rationality. How 'bout a counter-example: All the perfectly rational individuals who don't kill innocent people.
     
  15. derek

    derek Grey Eminence

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2005
    Messages:
    18,777
    Likes Received:
    66
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Edinburgh, U.K.
    No, i'd say there was an element of rationality to their acts. It is just a bastardised version of rationality. The acts were morally wrong, but in a mind where such things do not apply, they remain rational.
     
  16. ARC150

    ARC150 anodyne

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2005
    Messages:
    157
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Chicago
    I am jumping into this post midstream...

    Chicken and Egg have not come together all along - esp. when related to creationism. The question of chicken and egg is a question of creationism vs. evolution:

    If the chicken came first: Creationism explains our origins - God placed creatures on the earth.

    If the egg came first: Darwinism explains our origins - something begat something that birthed a mutation now known as a [insert creature-type here].

    ***

    Pardon me while I read the rest of the thread...
     
  17. derek

    derek Grey Eminence

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2005
    Messages:
    18,777
    Likes Received:
    66
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Edinburgh, U.K.
    ^By all means, jump right in. Good post, thats all that matters!
     
  18. ARC150

    ARC150 anodyne

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2005
    Messages:
    157
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Chicago
    Ok, read the remainder of the thread...

    I think a clarification of instinct vs thought vs parasympathetic response may help here.

    I agree with the well-founded notion that the "rooting reflex" (read: the reflexive action of infants to move to and suckle a nipple) is possibly the last instictual action of homo sapiens sapiens.

    Beyond that, we have thought.

    Now, there are major influence on thought - chemicals (e.g. adrenaline) are released and certain chemico-synapse functions are altered (e.g. seratonin re-uptake inhibitors) in response to certain situations. Thought patterns are altered by such occurrances, but this is not the same thing as instinctual response.

    With instinct, "hardwired response" dominates action - the same certain situational stimulus will cause the same certain reaction; this is the case of animals. With humans, situational variables - parasympathetic responses included - will affect but not dictate response action.

    So, as far as the question "Is rational thought a better survival tool than instinct or superstition" is concerned, there are really two separate questions:

    Rational thought vs Instinct: A moot point when referred to humans - we possess the former and not the latter.

    Rational thought vs superstition is the question here. So the topic, to my mind, is how is superstition a substitute for rationale?
     
  19. derek

    derek Grey Eminence

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2005
    Messages:
    18,777
    Likes Received:
    66
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Edinburgh, U.K.
    Well the definition of instinct I have is "the innate capacity of an organism to respond to a stimuli in a fixed way" I agree with the notion that its fair to ascribe this capacity to biological processes.

    However, I'd disagree with respect to humans possessing instinct. I accept instinct to be like the above quotation outlines, so with that in mind I would say humans do have instinct insomuch as we respond to certain stimuli in fixed ways.

    That leads me to think humans possess both instinct and rationality. I don't necessarily see them as always conflicting but i think we possess both. The example that comes to mind would be a bear attack. We could say our instinct would incite the fight/flight response and urge us to either fight or run. BUT our rationality would allow us to compare this instinct with our knowlegde and come to the rational conclusion that we should play dead. To my mind, that illustrates that we have both rationality and instinct.

    I apologise if this seems silly, but for the sake of my understanding could someone flesh out the rational thought Vs Superstition position? I'd appreciate it.

    Cheers,

    Derek
     
  20. Lord Foul

    Lord Foul I don't spank men

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Messages:
    4,209
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Sunnyvale, CA
    An interesting point, but to return to the original question, whether or not we possess instinct, other creatures do. Will our tool of reason ultimately make us more successful, from a survival standpoint, than our lizard-brained forerunners? While rational thought certainly has provided us with the ability to avoid things that might threaten the lesser species, hasn't it also created many new calamities that could potentially threaten our survival as a species?

    I suppose the first question here should be "In what ways is superstition different than reason."
     

Share This Page