Comments on “Aspects of reasonableness”


Alignment with Kegan stages?

Nick Hay's picture

How well does reasonable, rational, meta-rational align with the Kegan stages? For example, could stages 0-2 align with the development of reasonableness, 3-4 (i.e. formal operations) of rationality, and 5 of meta-rationality? Stage 3 would perhaps be the less systematic precursors to stage 4’s systematic rationality.

Stages of development of rationality

Yes, you’ve got that pretty much right! I’m taking 3=reasonable, 4=rational, 5=meta-rational. Kegan stage 3 isn’t capable of dealing with complex formal systems.

In Piagetian terms, pretty much all rich-country teens have achieved his “formal operations,” but the Neo-Piagetian adult cognitive development researchers have consistently found that this is inadequate to actually think rationally in the sense of “systematic, formal, technical rationality.” Only about a third of American adults are capable of that. (As is pretty obvious if you look at unfiltered twitter, which is mostly stage 3.) William Perry’s work founded this lineage of research, which has been done mostly at the Harvard Ed School, including by Kegan.

Part III will tell a story about the gradual development of this formal rationality during ages roughly 15-30, because I find that understanding how you get to be more rational helps understand what rationality is and how it works.

To the extent possible, I want to base this on empirical studies of how people learn college-level STEM. Unfortunately, in my literature search so far, startlingly little research seems to have been done on that. You’d think universities (and the people who fund them) would want to know… Or, maybe, to be more cynical, maybe it’s unsurprising, because they don’t want to know!

Some thoughtful reccomendations

Will's picture

Hi David,

Still enjoying your writing. Nice!

I think there are a couple of things worth reccomending, that would interest you, considering the work you are currently doing. If you have a couple of minutes - probably worth your time.

Catafalque, by Peter Kingsley

Catafalque would be a great book for you to read that would probably deeply interest you in particular.

Take care,


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This page is in the section Part Two: Taking reasonableness seriously,
      which is in In the cells of the eggplant,
      which is in ⚒ Fluid understanding: meta-rationality,
      which is in ⚒ Sailing the seas of meaningness,
      which is in Meaningness and Time: past, present, future.

The next page in this section is You are accountable for reasonableness.

The previous page is The ethnomethodological flip.

This page’s topic is Rationalism.

General explanation: Meaningness is a hypertext book (in progress), plus a “metablog” that comments on it. The book begins with an appetizer. Alternatively, you might like to look at its table of contents, or some other starting points. Classification of pages by topics supplements the book and metablog structures. Terms with dotted underlining (example: meaningness) show a definition if you click on them. Pages marked with ⚒ are still under construction. Copyright ©2010–2020 David Chapman. Some links are part of Amazon Affiliate Program.