Rationality: Humanity’s Only Hope

We humans are rational beings. We need rationality in our lives. We especially need rationality in communal life, to govern governance.

Ideology was conceived to replace theology for governing governance. Ideology is secular, but it is not rational. Ideologies are based on secular beliefs, just as theologies are based on spiritual beliefs. Ideologies are in effect secular religions.

There are multiple ideologies; ideology is divisive. There are multiple theologies; theology is divisive. There is only one rationality. Rationality is inclusive.

Ideology and theology generate inevitable “contests of power” (Michel Foucault). Because they are based on beliefs, the only two options are to ‘agree to disagree’ or to engage in conflict; if all people involved in a dispute based on beliefs do not accept genial disagreement, then conflict is inevitable. Only within rationality can differences be resolved through discussion.

Anyone who believes (as this author does) that human beings were created by God must acknowledge that our rational capacity was given to us by the Lord. All theologies and ideologies are the creations of human beings.

For people who believe in the Bible, its first few chapters tell us that civilization is the natural state of humanity separated from God; the Lord has not desired for us to suffer harm, but as a group we humans have been on our own, dependent on our rational capacity.

[The ‘original sin’ was becoming ‘knowledgeable’ of “good and evil.” ‘Good’ and ‘evil’ are the basis of law; law is the conceptual foundation of civilization. After Cain murdered his brother, Abel, for which he was banished by the Lord from his birth family (their parents were Adam and Eve), the Bible says he built the world’s first city; cities are the social, physical, existential manifestation of civilization. The first person referred to in the Bible as being married (other than Adam and Eve) is Cain; marriage is the institutional foundation of civilization. Marriage is all about property; property is the material foundation of civilization. (The association of marriage with property was even clearer before the notion of romantic love developed in the Modern era — a notion that has anachronistically infused art and entertainments depicting earlier periods of history). The Bible says Cain was a farmer; farming is the technological foundation of civilization. (Even today, farming allows civilization to exist.) When the age of Earth has been calculated on the basis of the Bible, it has ranged from about 5,000 to about 8,000 years. Science tells us that Earth is much, much older than that, but 5,000 to 8,000 years ago civilization was coming into existence. (I was inspired to delve more intently into the first few chapters of Genesis by Daniel Quinn’s book, Ishmael.)]

Ideology has given the world war, torture, and terror. So has theology. Rationality has led to problems, but problems that are technical, that can be corrected by applying rationality to them. Ideology and theology have been used to hinder solving technical problems (i. e. the use of ideology and theology to avoid acknowledging global warming, much less taking actions to correct it).

Humanity is careening toward a catastrophe of Biblical proportions. It cannot be avoided by ideological or theological incantations. Rationality is our only hope.

Rational justice would maximize liberty, reinforce democracy, and transform — while retaining — our market-based economy (no economic instability, no unemployment or poverty — at no cost to anyone and without redistributing anything — and no more using taxes to fund government). Also, it would give us a chance for environmental sustainability without lowering living conditions.

Author’s note: You can read more about the concept of rational justice here.