September, 2009


28
Sep 09

Endless Rationality

I saw this article over at the less wrong blog. It describes rational thought as a skill that can be learned and refined. It asks what skill you value the most. What skill would you choose to dedicate your time to learning and honing? It is a great question, and I would say that rational thought would be the most important skill for me. But then the post goes and tells me that’s a bad choice.

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21
Sep 09

The Scientific Method

Wrench“Talk about rationality can get very confusing unless the things with which rationality deals are also included.” – Robert Pirsig, ZMM

I realized that I have been touting the use of rational thought, but I have not talked about what rational thought really is. I listed out some tools that can be used within the Baloney Detection Kit (according to both Michael Shermer and Carl Sagan). But I have failed to describe the most important feature of rational thought: the scientific method.

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14
Sep 09

Mindfulness vs. Concentration

Magnifying Glass

Mindfulness versus concentration. This is how Mindfulness in Plain English describes the fundamentally different but closely related ways of thinking that was mentioned in the previous post. Mr. Gunaratana is obviously biased towards mindfulness, but does say that concentration is necessary for peace of mind. I disagree with the way he frames the relationship. He places too little importance on concentration. But his interpretation of the mindfulness and rational thought relationship is interesting and worth reviewing.

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7
Sep 09

Reconcilable Differences

The subject of my past few posts has been about quantitative analysis of thoughts.  This seems to be in direct contrast with the idea of mindfulness.  One concept consists of quantifying, categorizing, time stamping, and many other ways to analyze what is going through your mind.  The other concept consists of recognizing thoughts and nothing else.  That’s all there is to it.

Mindfulness is not missing the instructions on what to do with the thoughts that you have.  Meditation has been developed and refined for over thousands of years.  Practitioners are aware of the thoughts that pass through their mind and they specifically do nothing with them.  That is the fundamental basis of meditation.  How can quantitative analysis, or reasoning and rational thought, for that matter, be reconciled with mindfulness?
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