Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-7c2ld Total loading time: 0.274 Render date: 2021-12-02T14:19:38.616Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

17 - Paradoxes of irrationality

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 2009

Get access

Summary

The idea of an irrational action, belief, intention, inference or emotion is paradoxical. For the irrational is not merely the nonrational, which lies outside the ambit of the rational; irrationality is a failure within the house of reason. When Hobbes says only man has ‘the privilege of absurdity’ he suggests that only a rational creature can be irrational. Irrationality is a mental process or state – a rational process or state – gone wrong. How can this be?

The paradox of irrationality is not as simple as the seeming paradox in the concept of an unsuccessful joke, or of a bad piece of art. The paradox of irrationality springs from what is involved in our most basic ways of describing, understanding, and explaining psychological states and events. Sophia is pleased that she can tie a bowline. Then her pleasure must be due to her belief that she can tie a bowline and her positive assessment of that accomplishment. Further, and doubtless more searching, explanations may be available, but they cannot displace this one, since this one flows from what it is to be pleased that something is the case. Or take Roger, who intends to pass an examination by memorizing the Koran. This intention must be explained by his desire to pass the examination and his belief that by memorizing the Koran he will enhance his chances of passing the examination.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1982

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
107
Cited by

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×