Thinking philososophically

What’s so hard about thinking philosophically?  Philosophy is fundamentally thinking about thinking.  So you analyze thoughts and quickly come to realize there are justified thoughts and unjustified thoughts.  We call justified thoughts rational.  So thoughts like 1+1=2 in base-10 mathematics or “I know from science that the Earth is probably in excess of 4 billion years old” are rational.  There are solid reasons to believe they are true and no rational reason to suspect that they are not.

Unjustified thinking is more complex and I will divide it into two categories, the irrational and antirational.  Irrational beliefs are those for which I have have neither a rational reason to believe or disbelieve.  “I think there is one, omnipotent, omniscent, loving God,” as proposed by Christianity, Judaism, and Islam is a popular one.  The problem is, despite thousands of years of struggle by most of the best minds in humanity, there is no conclusive reason to believe or disbelieve this statement–it could well be true, but it might also not be true, too.  There’s no way to know.  Supposed proofs fall far short of establishing God,  and supposed disproofs, like the Problem of Evil, also fall short other than to suggest our understanding of God might be incomplete.

Antirational beliefs are, theoretically, the easiest to deal with.  You have a rational reason to believe that something is the case, but instead you believe the opposite.  “McDonalds uses earthworms from Argentina in its hamburgers” might be one such.  Touring McDonalds’ facilities you see no evidence of earthworms.  McDonalds hamburgers don’t taste anything like (I imagine) earthworms would taste.  There are no shipping records that McDonalds has imported earthworms from Argentina.  In fact, it would be stupid for several reasons for McDonalds to use earthworms, including that it would garner the franchise negative publicity and it would increase production costs to use them.  So there is no rational reason to suppose that McDonalds uses earthworms from Argentina in its hamburgers and many rational reasons to suppose that it does not.  Yet some people, for whatever reason, will persist in believing that McDonalds uses earthworms imported from Argentina to make its hamburgers.


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