Re: Plea (was ExI: Cognitive Extropians)

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Wed, 22 Jan 1997 13:37:44 -0800 (PST)

> Yes. Now you slavishly serve your memes, such as your superstitious
> rigid belief in a clearcut and well-understood distinction between
> "reason" and "emotion". You haven't got the foggiest idea what the
> referents of those words are: no one does, as of yet. You could
> just as easily be dogmatically ranting about phlogiston or the
> luminiferous ether.

Actually, it's true that I haven't got a clue what "emotion" refers
to, and I never claimed to. I do, however, have a very clear referent
in mind for what I call "reason", though I have been less than
successful at communicating what that is. I don't know what emotion
is precisely, but since I do experience a set of sensations that
are consistent with what other people describe as emotion, I can
identify some of those things as distinct from my referent for reason,
which I will try to describe here briefly (in somewhat abbreviated
form): I have a specific referent for "knowledge", and for "reality",
and for what it means for the former to be consistent with the latter.
I use the word "reason" to mean "those principles and methods--which
may change over time--that lead to the acquisition of knowledge that
is consistent with reality."

I will also freely admit that I have some emotional attachment to
specific principles and methods like formal logic and experiment.
I have not found anything better yet. I am underwhelmed by those
alternatives--including the alternatives some have suggested here
of combining or balancing them with others--which I have seen. I
suspect I will never find better alternatives, but I cannot rule it
out entirely.

> The funniest thing is that in your foolish ranting against the
> passions, you don't even notice that you are entirely caught up in
> your emotional passion for rationality. You just blindly whirl
> about in your libertarian macho-flash routine, giving the beliefs
> that you happen to share with me a bad name in your community (which
> pisses me off, incidentally), prating about "free will" while
> functioning as a marionette for Ayn Rand's mind.

(1) Please provide a sample of my text where I "rant against passion."
I've done no such thing, I merely point out that it is often used for
purposes ill-suited to it, namely cognition. If I pointed out that a
screwdriver drove screws better than a hammer, would you call that a
rant against hammers? That I was some robotic screwdriver-worshipping

(2) Yes, I am passionate about reason, and I recognize that. It works

(3) If you search for messages from me with "Rand" in them, you will
find them generally critical, so I'm not sure why you see me as a
puppet to her mind, just because we happen to reach many of the same
conclusions and share many ideas. I do admire her genius, but I am
quite capable of also seeing her mistakes and using my own mind.

> Oh, I'm sorry. Was I rude? I'm just calling it like I see it here.
> I certainly hope you won't be so irrational as to allow any of your
> buttons to be pushed by this post. Perhaps when you respond, you'll
> show some evidence of actually having read it, rather than simply
> seizing another opportunity to grind your ax at us.

If they get pushed, I will work on correcting that. I see nothing
rude in your post if it is truly the way you experience my words.
Indeed, you did make me spend some time focusing on my definitions
of terms I use that I might not have done in response to a more
conciliatory post. I cannot say, though, whether my motivation for
spending more mental energy in this reply than others resulted from
the nature of the post of from the fact that I anticipated it after
our meeting last night.

And yes, I recognize that that last sentence shows that I allowed
emotional reactions ("motivation", "anticipation") to materially
affect my reasoning process ("spend more mental energy on this").
I recognize that fact by reason.