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The unreasonable man

 
 
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bernard
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08 April 2007 11:43
 

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man (George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, 1903, "Maxims for Revolutionists")

I loved and believed this quote before reading the End of Faith. To me, irrationality seemed to be the engine of evolution. Can we still truly make this statement now…?

 
Traces Elk
 
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Traces Elk
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08 April 2007 12:00
 

I won’t try to answer, bernard. But I do think you are asking the wrong question.

Category error? Natural selection is the engine of evolution. Brevity is the soul of parsimony. Consistency is the hobgoblin of the small mind.

The unreasonable man is the engine of religion.

 
 
 
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Joad
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08 April 2007 13:12
 

The reason I love ‘wits’ like Shaw, Wilde, Bierce, etc is their use of language.

What is a reasonable man?

A reasonable man would accept that it is easier to swim downstream than upsteam. But that requires he abandon reason in choosing his destination.

So, the Reasonable man swims downstream. The Unreasonable man swims towards his chosen destination.

 
Lapin Diabolique
 
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Lapin Diabolique
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08 April 2007 14:02
 

[quote author=“bernard”]The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man (George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, 1903, “Maxims for Revolutionists”)

I loved and believed this quote before reading the End of Faith. To me, irrationality seemed to be the engine of evolution. Can we still truly make this statement now…?

Welcome Bernard,

This sounds pretty and clever, but I don’t buy it.

A far ancestor of yours is sitting in a tree, watching her off-spring being devoured by hyenas.
Does she accept this reality or does she learn how to make a spear ?

 
 
 
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burt
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08 April 2007 15:00
 

[quote author=“bernard”]The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man (George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, 1903, “Maxims for Revolutionists”)

I loved and believed this quote before reading the End of Faith. To me, irrationality seemed to be the engine of evolution. Can we still truly make this statement now…?

I recall a Robert Heinlein tale of the “man who was too lazy to fail.”  Made a good argument that progress is a result of people who are too lazy to do things in the accepted way and try to find an easier way.

 
 
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unsmoked
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09 April 2007 11:14
 

[quote author=“Joad”]The reason I love ‘wits’ like Shaw, Wilde, Bierce, etc is their use of language.

What is a reasonable man?

A reasonable man would accept that it is easier to swim downstream than upsteam. But that requires he abandon reason in choosing his destination.

So, the Reasonable man swims downstream. The Unreasonable man swims towards his chosen destination.

There’s a line, ‘moving with a mighty flow’, maybe from the Tao Teh Ching, talking about the person who takes advantage of the natural currents to augment their own strength.  I don’t sail, but I know it is possible to use the wind to go into the wind.  Tacking?

 
 
 
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MDBeach
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09 April 2007 11:34
 

A far ancestor of yours is sitting in a tree, watching her off-spring being devoured by hyenas.
Does she accept this reality or does she learn how to make a spear ?

No, she learns because she heard stories of kids eaten by hyenas.  Necessity was the key to invention, not superstition.  The minds necessity to find reason out of unreasonable events breeds superstition.

 
 
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burt
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09 April 2007 11:42
 

[quote author=“MDBeach”]Necessity was the key to invention, not superstition.  The minds necessity to find reason out of unreasonable events breeds superstition.

“New organs of perception arise as a result of need.  Therefore, increase your need.”  Rumi
smile

 
 
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unsmoked
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09 April 2007 17:06
 

The Unreasonable Man?

A near relative, an uncle in fact, hears on TV that his 6000 square- foot waterfront home is going to be under the sea in 25 years.  Does he accept this reality, or does he decide to trade in his SUV, speedboat, and huge house and get a 60 mpg Honda and a two bedroom bungalow?  Oh, right, somebody else will use the gas guzzlers and the monster house - might as well hang onto them.

 
 
 
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KFD
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09 April 2007 17:30
 

[quote author=“bernard”]The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man (George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, 1903, “Maxims for Revolutionists”)

I loved and believed this quote before reading the End of Faith. To me, irrationality seemed to be the engine of evolution. Can we still truly make this statement now…?

There’s a difference between being “unreasonable” and “irrational”. Irrational is believing people can walk on water. Unreasonable is merely to exaggerate how far you can swim.

 
 
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jmichno
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02 April 2008 12:10
 

Trying to paint any human characteristic in black and white or, a cute phrase is usually based on limited knowledge and evidence. 

Adaptation to a wide variety of conditions appears to be a very productive strategy for human beings; yet, one of our adaptations, intelligence, has thrust us into a very powerful role on the planet.  We can now alter the environment to suite our needs and this will be essential as we leave the earth nest to live on other planets.  That is, once our species moves beyond infantile behavior and destructiveness.

 
Ecurb Noselrub
 
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Ecurb Noselrub
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02 April 2008 13:54
 
bernard - 08 April 2007 03:43 PM

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man (George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, 1903, "Maxims for Revolutionists")

I loved and believed this quote before reading the End of Faith. To me, irrationality seemed to be the engine of evolution. Can we still truly make this statement now…?

I don’t think Shaw was using the word “reasonable” in the same way that it is used by Harris or those on this forum.  I think he meant it in the sense of “pragmatic” or “sensible” or “conservative” in a social interaction sense.  A sensible person might not take too many risks, and would simply learn how to get along. A risk taker (“unreasonable” in Shaw’s usage) is the one who is going to make things happen. Both might be completely “rational,” which is the sense in which “reasonable” is generally understood and used on this forum.

 
 
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SkepticX
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02 April 2008 17:56
 

The popularity and status of Shaw’s “reasonable man” quote is a fine example of the common error of mistaking ambiguity for profundity. The quote is actually nonsensical if you actually analyze it at all carefully, and perhaps most importantly in this case, without equivocation.

Byron

 
 
 
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rogerflat
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07 April 2008 08:53
 

Irrationality being the engine of evolution is like saying that science is the engine of Intelligent Design.

Its not only demonstrably untrue, but it is antithetical to what “would” actually be the case.

 
 
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JET
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07 April 2008 20:48
 

unsmoked 09 April 2007
A near relative, an uncle in fact, hears on TV that his 6000 square- foot waterfront home is going to be under the sea in 25 years.

Make that 24 years. Yuk, Yuk!

 
 
 
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rogerflat
Total Posts:  533
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10 April 2008 07:28
 

Make that 24 years. Yuk, Yuk!

I almost got in a fight with a guy at a bar because he used the 24 reference relating to 420. I happened to be 24 at the time and thought he was somehow making fun of my age.

Of course, I don’t know what Yuk Yuk means either.

 
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