When Is Irrationality a Virtue?
We have to embrace the inconsistency of our own minds, not as a bug but as a feature,
that we are in essence brought here by the forces of selection.
We are the products of systems of selective pressures, and what they seem to do is to
create the ability to run many, many different programs and often contradictory programs
within the same mind.
And the question is why have we put such an extraordinary emphasis on intellectual consistency
so that we are constantly alerted to the hypocrisy of others but we are seemingly blind to it
Our mind is constructed with an architecture that allows us to run various sandboxes where
我们不用真正变成另一个人 却可以用另一个人的思想 换位思考
we can experiment with the ideas of others without actually becoming the other.
Can we run another mind in emulation?
Perhaps not as well as its original owner, but can we run that mind well enough to understand
来理解他人 感同身受 并与他人的思想讨论辩论 从而达成更好的目标吗？
it, to empathize with it and to argue and spar with it to achieve some kind of better outcome
where we are actually able to turn foes into dancing partners as we come to show
that we’ve actually understood perspectives different from our own.
The biggest objection to this way of thinking is that it’s somehow a kind of a cheat,
that hypocrisy is being summoned by another name.
But I think this is actually incorrect.
我认为 比如说 我们拥有了这些沙箱
I think that we have these sandboxes, for example, so that we can fight more effectively
a foe that we feel we must defeat.
所以 比方说 我最近讨论了 能够在头脑中运行圣战份子沙箱的重要性
So, for example, recently I talked about the importance of being able to run a jihadi sandbox in our minds
if we want to understand the forces that are behind Islamic terror and
和它对 西方相对脆弱敏感的生死观 产生的影响
its effect on what I think are relatively fragile Western sensibilities about life and death
And so if we choose not to empathize with the other, to say that so much is beyond the
pale, we are probably not going to be very effective in understanding that the other
does not see itself as evil.
It does not see itself as an enemy that must be fought.
我不一定同意他们的观点 但如果仅因为圣战分子的消极社会影响 而拒绝以他们的思维模式 进行换位思考
I don’t necessarily need to agree with it but to demonstrate that I can’t even run
the program simply for the purpose of social signaling seems the height of folly.
How do we hope to become effective if we can’t guess what the other will do next?
There are limits to this.
We have to have a certain kind of consistency of mind.
But the idea that you can’t be capable of running a diehard rationalist, materialist,
atheist program as well as a program that says perhaps I will open myself to transcendental
states and, if I need to anthropomorphize those as coming from a deity, perhaps the
idea is that that architecture is not what Richard Dawkins would suggest is a kind of
But, in fact, it’s a facility that we choose to deny ourselves in our peril.
如果我们陷入了思想的局部舒适区 在这种情况下 我们必须脱离局部合理区
What if we’re trapped on a local maximum of fitness and, in fact, we need to get to
But the idea is that the traversal of the so-called adaptive valley where we have to
make things much, much worse before they get much better, what if the idea is that that cannot
generally be attempted rationally, that we need a modicum of faith, of belief that we
cannot reference to any sort of information set.
We could end up trapped on local maxima forever.
But I think it’s really important to consider that some people may be able to traverse the
adaptive valley without a belief in a deity.
Some may need a temporary belief in a deity.
Some may be able to reference some sort of a transcendental state and steel ourselves
in order to make the journey.
But however it’s accomplished there are times when it would appear that all hope is lost,
and that if we are not to end our days stuck on these local maxima of whatever we have
achieved, that we have to fundamentally experiment with ways of thinking, if only temporarily,
to get us to higher ground.