Rationality is the quality of being reasonable and rational. It therefore reflects the conformity of one’s beliefs with their respective reasons to believe. In his book, The Twelve Virtues of Rationality, Eliezer Yudkowsky outlines the twelve key virtues of rationality. He explains how his analysis relates to clarify the arguments of the secondary texts. These secondary texts are by the Socrates, Conroy and Hitchcock. The aim of the paper is to outline the Eliezer’s argument with respect to these secondary texts. In addition to that, the paper answers questions related to the Eliezer’s argument and its relevance in understanding the process of critical thinking.
Eliezer Yudkowsky explains the science beneath the human irrationality. The argument presents rationality as a state of being reasonable based on the facts. The virtue of curiosity seems to take a greater weight. Rationality is presented as a product of curiosity and time. It is that burning itch to know being higher than the vow to peruse the truth. I suppose that the Eliezer’s argument simply means that the basic consideration of rationality is curiosity. The thoughts and curiosityof an individual in obtaining the truth through arguments defines rationality through curiosity. The twelve virtues basically address the need to seek and know the perfect answer. Eliezer argues that rationality is the sword and ignorance is the enemy. He adds that you use your sword to strike the enemy. In so doing, truth is attained thus rationality. Therefore, generally curiosity backed with simplicity proves rationality.
Yudkowsky’s diction is well chosen so as to bring the clear sense of the argument. The language used tries to convince the audience that it is only through critical thinking and analysis that rationality can be attained. This can be further extended to critical and liberal thinking. In this case, thinking and reasoning critically will yield rationalism. This argument concurs with the Plato’s view of rationality and knowledge. Plato claims that the knowledge gained through the senses is no more than opinion. In this, he simply means that the real knowledge is attained through philosophical reasoning. This further concurs with the Socrates’ argument on the theory of knowledge. Socrates argues that true reasoning comes from the mind and not the sense. The arguments directly relate to those of Conroy and Hitchcock which also view knowledge as sourced from rational reasoning but not the senses.
In the allegory of the cave, Plato seems to bring across the issue of the virtues of rationality. For instance, the virtue of curiosity is given much consideration by Plato. Specifically, the prisoner in The Allegory of The Cave is presented to be curious. It is this curiosity that keeps him looking for truth. In this case, the sun is used symbolically to mean truth. The current situation of the prisoner is surrounded by only shadows. The shadows symbolize the lies. Socrates explains his claim that the just man is the happy man per excellence. In this case, Socrates seems to imply that in order to attain happy and good life, first man must have an idea of the ends of human existence. This is basically having an idea of the future. The virtue of curiosity is again repeated here. The eager to have an idea about the future is basically curiosity. The curiosity keeps the Socrates unsettled and that is why he keeps anticipating about the future. The Socrates argues that a just man does not have to appear just, but to embody and practice justice. It is actually the curiosity that drives the Socrates’ argument over a just man. This can be termed as the inquisitiveness to know the reality. One is needed to firstly become arrogant and develop the feeling of relinquishing arrogance in order to realize the impact of curiosity. This is exactly the situation portrayed in The Allegory of The Cave. The prisoner has for the first place accepted his previous ignorance and he is relinquishing it by fighting for truth.
The basic argument of Eliezer Yudkowsky is that rationality is the only way to attain the knowledge. In this case, the twelve virtues of rationality needs to have been satisfied first. The virtue of curiosity is quite crucial in this case. “The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means”. Here the sword is used to mean rationality while the enemy means ignorance. Having the desire to cut the enemy is like being ready to relinquish the ignorance. This is the key idea that is basically driven by curiosity. This argument has a direct influence to the argument of the Allegory of The Cave. This is why the prisoner is being driven by curiosity to abandon his previous ignorance and get to know the truth. The Yudkowsky’s argument presents the virtue of curiosity that directly clarifies the presentation of the Allegory of the Cave.
In “Think About It,” Frank Conroy implies an argument about the rationality. Though this presentation is quite indirect on the rationality, the theme of the story narrows down to rationality and how it affects knowledge. Basically, Conroy presents education as a continuous process. This keeps the two black men always keep focused on educative parts of nature apart from what they do get money. Conroyconfirms that the two men are trying to think of their situation and at the same time strive to satisfy their basic needs. In the article, Frank Conroy presents the relevance of reasoning and how this rational reasoning can improve an individual’s condition. This confirms the continuous nature of education. Despite the fact that these two men are quite old, they keep focused on educative issues.
Basically, as outlined earlier above, the argument of Yudkowsky narrows down to the rationality and its components. These are well outlined by the twelve virtues of rationality. For instance, the virtue of curiosity is again presented by Conroy. When he meets her girlfriend, he is curious to know about her relatives. This is how he came to know the girlfriend’s grandfather who later helps him through his education. The burning itch of curiosity to know drives the Frank’s step to enquire on her girlfriend’s relatives. This helps him in the continuous process of education. The need of curiosity in education is therefore high. Yudkowsky uses this description to show the influence curiosity has on rationality. Therefore, the Yudkowsky’s argument clarifies the Conroy’s argument in the sense that curiosity is a main virtue of rationality.
In Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock implies an argument about a curious man, who used to maintain a secret watch on his neighbors. During the action, the man at times delays acting while trying to watch on the people and things around. This is because of his curiosity. The movie creates various instances of suspense and surprise. For instance, the bomb going off under the table is a surprise. However, a long suspense keeps the audience waiting for this surprise.
The movie, In Rear Window, has a direct co-relation with the Yudkowsky’s argument. For instance, curiosity has been highly embraced through the movie. This is a virtue of rationality according to Yudkowsky’s argument. Therefore, the argument clarifies the relevance of the curiosity and how it effects the thinking and later the knowledge of Jeff, the curious man.
In conclusion, the texts by Yudkowsky, Conroy, Socrates and Hitchcock to some point concur with each other. They have a basic argument that is indirectly summarized by the Yudkowsky’s argument. Therefore, it can be deduced that the texts have a positive impact on the general understanding of the critical thinking. The twelve virtues of rationality make the baseline in understanding of critical thinking.