Sapient Thoughts #37 – The Human Project Part 5 – Rationality and First Principles

Hamza Tzortzis


Channel: Hamza Tzortzis

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salaam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato rudden. Sisters, welcome to another episode of sapient thoughts, where we discuss the philosophical issues where we give replies and answers to contentions about Islam, and where we provide a robust, clear, unequivocal strong case for the veracity of Islam. So in this particular episode, we are continuing on this series that is related to or talking about worldviews and the fitrah. And up to this point, we have had a quite a long extensive discussion about worldviews. And we talked about its definition, we talked about, you know, the fact that everyone has a worldview, the implications of one's worldview, in terms of, you know, one's

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opinions about various things, answers to questions, abortion, euthanasia, whatever it might be. We talked about, we talked about the main components of a worldview, everything from ontology and theology all the way down to aesthetics, how one understand that beauty, or what are the results of one's worldview upon beauty. And so we also did a comparison of the Islamic worldview with the modern worldview. And we spoke about that extensively. And in the last episode, we had ended off with the idea that every worldview has axioms, every worldview has basic beliefs. Now, from that point, someone may come now, especially if they understand a worldview, or if they're, if they claim

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that they are coming from a modern worldview, or a you know, or a scientific worldview, whatever it might be, they may make a certain claim, they may say, Look, my worldview, the worldview that I adopt, is based upon rationality, and not fairytales. Because you have a religion, you believe in a supernatural, you believe in a supernatural reality, you believe in a God and so on and so forth with all of these, you know, things. My, my worldview is based on rationality, unlike your worldview, which is based on just fairytales. Now, it's interesting contention. But it's very important to now if that's the claim that my worldview is based on rationality, to break this down a

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little further and understand rationality, and its limits and to understand rationality in a broader perspective, where we incorporate the idea of axioms to truly understand what rationality is, what are its limits, and, you know, how do we move forward in this area? So most people, when they think of rationality, and perhaps if they haven't thought about it too deeply, they basically bifurcate rationality in the sense that they say there are things that are rational, and there are things that are irrational. So a simple rational statement is, I am

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an irrational statement is if I said, I am a married bachelor. Now, a simple rational statements pretty straightforward. It's logical, an irrational statement like I am a married bachelor, well, it's illogical. Why? Well, because someone who is a bachelor is not married, and someone who's married has ceased to be a bachelor. In other words, they by definition, are mutually exclusive. Right? So you cannot be a bachelor and be married at the same time. Now, that seems irrational, and seems illogical. And it goes against the logical principle of mutual exclusivity. Now, imagine that you came to me and you said, You can't be a married bachelor. That's, that's that's illogical.

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That's irrational. And I was very stubborn. And I was very obstinate. And I said, Well, you know what, I am a married bachelor, I don't care what you say, prove to me that I can't be a med bachelor. Now, you might say, well, that's very easy, because a married bachelor goes against the logical principle of mutual exclusivity, you cannot be something and not be something at the same time, I cannot be fired and not fired at the same time, simple principle. But then I respond. I said, you know, what, prove to me that the principle is true.

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You see, the principle is accepted. You start with the principle and then you move forward. But you do not prove the principle. And so in reality, you can say rationality can be divided into three, not just not bifurcated into two, but rather there's three categories of rationality, you have those things, those ideas of statements that are rational, if you have those statements and ideas that are irrational things like I'm a married bachelor, you know, that looks like a square circle, whatever it might be. But then you have those concepts and ideas or those those concepts ideas that are outside of rationality that they

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They're outside of rationality, meaning they cannot be proven. But they must be there in order for rationality itself to function, like logical principles. This third category that's outside of rationality, we can say it's super rational. Now, this idea of the Supra rational, in the Islamic framework in the Islamic paradigm, or Islamic worldview, the term that we can apply in just in a general sense, would be the term fit through that which is outside of rationality. And without that rationality breaks down. So you have the super rational, a concept like rationality, that's what we call awkward or ugly, that which is irrational is layer darkly, whatever it might be, but you

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understand the point that there are three categories, you can say a rationality. So therefore, you have that which is super rational, that works outside of rationality, something that you assume that you cannot prove, but you must start in order for rational to work things like logical principles, then you have rationality, and then you have irrationality. Now, to kind of expand this out a little bit more, this concept of the super irrational is something that must be accepted. There is no system of thought, that can be devoid of the super rational, or can be devoid of, let's say, those things we call axioms, basic beliefs, first principles, all of those are referring to those that

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starting point that you must assume that you cannot prove. Now, what if someone says and they were obstinate, and they said, Well, I only believe in rationality, I don't have to buy into that hole axioms, axiomatic truths, whatever it might be. I just rely on my rationality, this can be this is a major problem. Because if you rely only on rationality, you then would basically be saying, I need proof. For anything that stated.

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The problem is if you need proof for every single thing that's ever stated, every single thing that you believe, that means you need proof, ad infinitum. In the sense, it's like saying, I doubt everything.

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Because the reality is there is no theorem that can be infinitely defended. You can't say because this because of this, because this forever. Let me give an example to drive the point home. Imagine now my son comes into the kitchen. And he takes out the knife from the drawer. And I say to him, Look, you got to put the knife away. And then he says, Why won't the knife is sharp, they can cut you. He says Why? I said, Well, the knife is sharp. And that's why I would cut us as well. Why? Say? Well, because the manufacturer made it that way. He says Why? Now notice, he's demanding of proof for all these a reason why I need some sort of proof I need I need a solid reason for this. Why?

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Well, because the knife is sharp. It's manufactured like that. He says Why? I say well, because the manufacturer made it that way. Well, why? Well, because we need knives to like cut things like fruit. He said, Why? Well, because fruit has a certain, you know, it has a certain utility. When it comes to being cut, it's easier to eat. He says Why? You can understand that a certain point, I would say, Because I said so that's why, because there's no theorem that is infinitely defendable. You can't say because this because this because this, if someone makes the claim that everything can be proven rationally, and I will only deal with the rash, the rational, not the super rational, not

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axioms, axiomatic truths, then this person's in trouble, because in essence, what they're saying is that I doubt everything. But why is this person in trouble? Because if you say you doubt everything, you have to doubt, your doubt, which leaves you intellectually paralyzed? Now the reality is this type of extreme skepticism. It's not practical either. Imagine now you get a call. And you have this sort of doubting everything in doubt, and doubt ad infinitum. And you just doubt everything. Well, how could you possibly function? Imagine, imagine you get a call. And the and your phone says, mom, and you pick up your phone? And you say, Well, first of all, you'd be like, wait a minute, is that

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my mom? How do I know? It's my mom? It says, Mom, how can I trust the phone? How do I know the phone is real? How do I know the phone is actually functional? And then let's say somehow you pick up the phone. Hello. And it's your let's let's say your mom's voice. Then you say wait a minute, is that my mom? How do I know? It's my mom. I have to doubt that it's my mom, and so on and so forth. And your mom says, well, could you please come? I got a flat tire I need your help is a well, I'm not sure I doubt. You understand that this gets into absurdity. No one lives like that. And so by necessity, you have to have something that's outside of rationality, that you cannot prove, but must be there

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in order for rationality to work. And someone gave a very interesting way or right interesting conceptual way of understanding this that is by comparing it to a solvent and imagine someone

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Coming in saying I have this great solvent, and it can dissolve anything.

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Now, that's like a person saying, I can rationally prove anything, I don't need axioms, I don't need this concept of that which is outside the realm, the super rational. Now, if someone came to you and said this, that I have this, you know, solvent that can dissolve anything, you want to ask them, What bottle will you keep it in.

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So you see, the rationale, rationality is a great solvent, but you still need a bottle to keep it in, right. And that's where the term AB solid comes absolute, right? That which is not solvable, that was not soluble, that which is not solvable, you can't solve it. And so you need an absolute. So you need, so you might have the absolute solvent to dissolve anything, but the problem is, you still need a bottle, keep it in. So therefore, what we can see is that rationality, you know, needs something outside of itself. From from when we look at when we apply Islamic parlance, to these concepts of the super rational, the rational, and the irrational. I mentioned earlier that the super

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rational can be can be roughly equated to what we call the fifth row. And of course, there are other elements of the fifth row. So for instance, aesthetic tastes are part of the fifth row, certain types of smells are part of the fifth row, your ability to appreciate, let's say, beautiful poetry, again, aesthetic tastes are part of the fifth row. And you can you can imagine how this would work. Like if you go out to see a beautiful sunset with your spouse, or your significant other. And you look at the sunset, you say, wow, that's beautiful. And your significant other says, Well, that's ugly. Prove to me rationally that that's beautiful. Again, you're really there's nowhere to go. So

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in this particular episode, we have so far discussed the idea of the super rational, and we have touched upon the concept of the fitrah. We're starting this discussion on the fifth route. In the next episode, we're going to be taking a deeper dive into the concept of the fitrah from the Islamic worldview. And again, just to understand where we're going, we understand that we are trying to now look at what are the axioms or the first principles within the Islamic framework? And we said that that those first principles is what we call the fitrah. Or they're part of the fifth row. In the next episode, we're going to look at what exactly is the fitrah? How do we understand the fifth rock

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from the Islamic paradigm. And we'll take a deeper dive into the etymology of the word and so on and so forth to get a deeper understanding of what the fitrah is from the Islamic paradigm. So until then, this is fall asleep. And these are sapient thoughts.

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All right.