Re: The Triumph of Reason over Sophistry (was Re: capitalist religion)

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Sun Jul 22 2001 - 12:23:32 MDT

On Saturday, July 21, 2001 7:21 AM J. R. Molloy wrote:
> Part of the reason I've classified philosophy as useless has to do with
> the way pancritical rationalism makes it obsolete and irrelevant.

This is not an answer to the logic of my argument.

Also, my point is that pancritical rationalism relies on things outside
itself, despite the fact that some believe it a complete substitute for

> It doesn't
> matter that "doctors" of philosophy have made philosophy ineffectual (not
> many suffer from that particular disease anyway).

It depends on the philosophy and the philosopher, but this getting off
topic. Pancritical rationalism is not only a philosophy, it's one built on
a contradiction. It fails in the same way many other philosophies fail --
by assuming too much and undercutting what it assumes. Rand called this the
fallacy of the stolen concept.

> Essentially, PCR goes beyond the
> love of sophistry (aka, philosophy), to engage an attitude of discovery
> based
> on critical observation and the connection of reason to empirical everyday
> life. IOW, it embraces the scientific method, which allows thinkers to
> supercede pure reason by opening their eyes to the infinite reality beyond
> word games, to know existence directly, and to communicate that knowledge
> in terms that evolve as science evolves, which means learning from
> experience.

I don't knock pancritical rationalists for admiring the scientific method,
but they cannot provide a justification for it. They can't even, by their
own standards accept it, because to them there should be no reason to use
science over reading tea leaves or prayer.

> "By replacing justificationism with fallibilism, and by encouraging the
> practice of opening to, welcoming, and respecting criticism, pancritical
> rationalism maximizes the pursuit of truth, accelerating the death of
> poorly-supported views and ineffective practices. It immunizes against
> dogmatization, fostering critical thought and an anti-fideistic culture
> and so
> opens every area of thought and practice to unlimited, perpetual
> improvement.
> Its critical procedures are precisely those embodied in science and, we
> hope, in practicing scientists."

But all of this finds it's base in a rational empiricism. Just using pretty
words and phrases -- pretty for us, such as "pursuit of truth," "respecting
criticism," "fostering critical thought" -- doesn't make a position
defensible. My argument is NOT that the methods of pancritical rationalism
are wrong, just that they are not enough. They can't even underpin

I also argued in my piece -- did you read it? -- that "One of these "primary
criticisms," not "contradict[ing] reproducible pieces of sensory data" is
foundational! What's more, it is "nonpropositionally justified"! As I wrote
above, the pancritical rationalist sneaks her groundings in through the back
door - or, here, the front door when nobody is looking." Using scientific
empiricism is foundational! Pancritical rationalists claim to have a system
without foundations! Yet pointing to experience to back beliefs is a form
of foundationalism. It is experience as foundations and there's a huge
tradition in philosophy of relying on the evidence of the senses -- e.g.,
see David Kelley's _The Evidence of the Senses_. (My review of the last is

Anyhow, thanks for commenting on my "Comments on Pancritical Rationalism."
Finally, after two years, someone has.


Daniel Ust

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