Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

“Rationally Coordinated”

Originally posted on June 15, 2015

One of my heroes, Alfred North Whitehead, has a definition of philosophy at the end of his Adventures of Ideas. He speaks of novel ideas, “rationally coordinated.” that’s somewhat ambiguous. What if the novel idea is that truth cannot be fully or even largely rationally coordinated, but yet this idea is rationally coordinated enough to be able to be written, presented, and understood?

My idea is that rationality itself is an asymptotic limit that loses energy at some point—my hunch is that it’s about 67% on a scale from 1 to 100, with 100 meaning that everything is in fact rationally coordinated. My hunch is that other values such as poetry, play, humor, irony, visual and musical aesthetics, and other variables begin to press more urgently for recognition or celebration in human affairs. Indeed, they’ve often held priority, but hardly pretended to merit intellectual status. Meanwhile, humanity has wallowed in less than 20% rationality for much of its existence and it well might benefit from upping that component to 40 – 60%! However, efforts beyond 60% need to become tempered by other values, or, as Shakespeare put it in the Merchant of Venice, “The quality of mercy is not strain’d.”

Most irrational is faith and hope, as in truth we live at the edge of the dark and light forces. Seeking truth may reveal that, and co-creating rather than discovering a higher truth to turn to the light may be an act of faith-ing that’s more noble than an impartial description. One opts for the good rather than looks to see which way the wind blows.

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