This page introduces a section containing the following pages:
Is this book for you? How meta-rationality can level up your work in science, technology, and engineering.
This book offers more sophisticated understanding of truth than both rationalist absolutism and postmodernist relativism.
The relationship between nebulosity—the inherent fuzziness of the world—and rationality is a central concern of meta-rationality.
Why meta-rationality matters for progress: leveling up science, technology, and society, even as they are unraveling.
A structural overview of the meta-rationality book In The Cells Of The Eggplant.
The hope that systematic rationality can reliably provide certainty, understanding, and control fails when it encounters nebulosity.
Defining the subject matter: rationality, rationalism, reasonableness, and meta-rationality.
Rationalism responds to its failures, in the face of nebulosity, by making more complicated formal theories.
Early 20th-century logical positivism was the last serious rationalism. Better understandings of rationality learn from its mistakes.
Aristotelian logic was mistaken both in details and overall conception, yet its key ideas survive in contemporary rationalism.
Formal logic successfully addresses important defects in traditional, Aristotelian logic, but cannot deal with contextuality.
Recognizing that some statements are neither true nor false was a major advance in early 20th-century rationalism.
Formal rationality requires absolute truths, but those are rare in the eggplant-sized world. How do we do rationality without them?
Reduction is a powertool of rationality, but reductionism can’t work as a general theory; most rationality is not reduction.
Formal methods formally require impossibly precise definitions of terms. How do we use them effectively without that?
“Shades of gray” is sometimes a good way to think about nebulosity—the world’s inherent fuzziness—but not always.
Approximation is a powerful technique, but is not applicable in all rational work, and so is not a good general theory of nebulosity.
The correspondence theory of truth doesn’t work by metaphysical magic. We must do the work to make it work—by any means necessary.
Rationalism implicitly or explicitly assumes that every object in the universe has a unique ID number.
Rational methods assume objects are objectively separable; but they aren’t. How do we use rationality effectively anyway?
Rationalist theories assume perception delivers an objective description of the world to rationality. It can’t, and doesn’t try to.
Propositions are whatever sort of thing it is you can believe. Nothing can play that role; so we need a different understanding of belief.
Rationalism does not explain where hypotheses, theories, discoveries, inventions, or other new ideas come from.
Unboundedly many issues may be relevant to any practical problem, so mathematical logic does not work as advertised.
Probability theory seems an attractive foundation for rationalism—but it is not up to the job.
Probabilistic rationalism encourages you to view the whole world as a gigantic casino—but mostly it is not like that.
If probability theory were an epistemology, we’d want it to tell us how confident to be in our beliefs. Unfortunately, it can’t do that.
A thought experiment shows why probability theory and statistics cannot address uncertainty in general.
The mistaken belief that statistical methods can tell you what to believe drove the science replication crisis.
Rationalist theories of action try to deduce optimal choices from true beliefs. This is rarely possible in practice.
Realizing rationalism is wrong can be devastating. Antidotes to the ensuing rage, anxiety, and depression are available, fortunately!
Everyday reasonableness is the foundation of technical, formal, and systematic rationality.
The Eggplant is neither cognitive nor science, although it seeks a better understanding of some phenomena cognitive science has studied.
A dramatic perspective shift: understanding rationality as dependent on mere reasonableness to connect it with reality.
A summary explanation of everyday reasonable activity, with a tabular guide and a concrete example.
Understanding concrete, purposeful activity is a prerequisite to understanding the formal rationality that depends on it.
Accountability is the key concept in understanding mere reasonableness, as contrasted with systematic rationality.
Routine activity usually goes smoothly overall, despite frequent minor glitches, because we have methods for repairing trouble.
We actively work to perceive aspects of the world as meaningful, in terms of our purposes, in context.
Peculiar features of language make sense as tools to enable collaboration, rather than to express objective truths.
We accomplish reference by any means necessary: observable, improvised work that makes it clear what we are talking about in context.
The epistemological categories—truth, belief, inference—are richer, more complex, diverse, and nebulous than rationalism supposes.
Reasonableness works with nebulous, tacit, interactive, accountable, purposeful ontologies, which enable everyday routine activity.
Using instructions requires figuring out what they mean in the context of your activity, and relative to your purposes.
Reconfiguring categories, properties, and relationships is a meta-rational skill—key in scientific revolutions.
The heart of the meta-rationality book: what meta-rationality is, why it matters, and how to do it.
Putting meta-rationality to work, in statistics, experimental science, software development, and entrepreneurship.
☜ The previous page is Meaningness and Time: past, present, future. (That page introduces its own subsection.)
Click on terms with dotted underlining to read a definition.
The book is a work in progress; pages marked ⚒︎ are under construction.