Our mind is in some instances active and in other instances passive. Insofar as it has adequate ideas, it is necessarily active; and insofar as it has inadequate ideas, it is necessarily passive. (Spinoza, Ethics, pars III, prop. 1)
Why rationality is important
What is man’s greatest strength? Rationality. His ability to reason, to keep his mind cool, and to align his thoughts and actions with facts and data from the real world. Every wise man says, “Play to your strengths.” This is why you should never lose your rational frame.
“An appeal to authority? That’s all you’ve got?” Well, what reason could ever convince you to be reasonable? All I can do, as you will see, is to dispel some of the rationalizations people use to ditch their rational frame. But let me define that concept first.
Your rational frame is an attitude
- based on truth (logic, science) and wisdom (life experience, self-reflection),
- characterized by a readiness to update one’s beliefs while considering one’s cognitive biases,
- aimed at viable goals and effective solutions (consequentialism),
- marked by mindcoolness (equanimity, non-reactivity), and
- expressed as discipline through willpower (self-control).
The rational frame is also a meta-value. Every core value—happiness, freedom, family, culture, success, power, etc.—can be valued within a rational frame that allows you to actualize them in the most effective way possible. Whatever good you want to attain or amplify, a rational frame is the most useful attitude you can adopt.
- Overthinking. Does a rational frame not force you to be thinking constantly, obsessively? No, in fact, all unproductive thoughts—especially worry and rumination, but really all forms of cognitive noise—do, by definition, not help you to achieve your goals and are thus, again by definition, not part of your rational frame. On the contrary, a rational frame is characterized by cool and useful thoughts, the very opposite of overthinking.
- Being social. If you want to make new friends, meet old friends, or just have fun with random people, a rational frame might seem obstructive. Not so. Reason may well advise you to be silly and irrational at times. Yet instead of being drawn into an irrational state by external forces, a rational frame allows you to actively choose to be silly temporarily. You may even choose to be stupidly aggressive with a cool mind. Everything that gives you novel experiences gives you new data, more adequate ideas, and potentially greater wisdom to enhance your rational frame.
- Getting laid. Every man knows that rationality gets you nowhere with women because all that matters to them during courtship are emotions. Still, a rational frame allows you to analyze social dynamics, sexual attraction, and female behavior and to use that real-world information for training yourself to behave in a way that yields the desired outcome, for example, ‘mad pussy’. Although becoming an ‘alpha male’ by design requires immense effort and willpower, professional pickup artists, who have become some of the world’s most successful players by utilizing their will and intellect to the full, prove that a rational frame can be highly effective for getting laid.
- Letting go. According to the transient hypofrontality hypothesis, states of flow and deep mindfulness are not characterized by rationality seated in the prefrontal cortex. However, a great way to consistently enter such states is through a rational frame expressed as discipline. Even when taking psychedelic drugs to ‘meet God’, your best choice is to do it from a rational frame: carefully organizing set and setting instead of impulsively partying on a rooftop that prompts you to walk into your death because you think you can levitate.
- Self-delusion. It sometimes seems to be better in life to delude oneself about certain realities and possibilities. Much in life depends on being confident, and confidence often works despite a lack of competence just because one has a huge delusional ego. In business, politics, sports, dating, and most of social life, it is usually better to err on the side of overconfidence. So why not choose a self-aggrandizing frame over a rational frame? First, nothing in life is more useful to a man than a group of rational people; but if you are irrationally narcissistic, such people will not respect you for long, if at all. Second, to the extent that self-delusion is a matter of mindset and self-fulfilling prophecies, you can integrate it into a rational frame; experientially and experimentally testing the effects of certain mindsets may give you rational reasons to carefully apply self-delusion to achieve certain goals; but is such ‘enlightened self-delusion’ an oxymoron or a matter of acting and self-control skills? Third, even if enlightened self-delusion is an oxymoron, science suggests that rational pride is, on average, more adaptive than delusional hybris. Fourth, people are different, and you cannot know a priori whether total commitment to a self-delusional attitude will allow you to achieve greater long-term success and well-being or not; only a self-reflective, rational frame allows you to assess how well your attitude is working for you and to correct course if needed.
No matter what you choose to do, and even if you want your behavior to be temporarily irrational, it is always best for you to make your decision within the rational frame of mindcoolness. What would be the alternative anyway? If your decisions and values are not framed by rational criteria, then they are framed by…
Social conditioning imposes on you a certain set of values and acceptable behaviors that ideally guide you to increase your social status and well-being within a group of people.
While social conditioning may be more useful than rationality for men who lack the intellectual capacity to think for themselves, a rational frame is still better for most others for at least two reasons:
- Every group’s value system is biased towards particular types of personality. If your personality type differs from the types that are valued within your group, you will be and stay a loser incapable of substantially elevating his social status. A rational frame, however, allows you to question your social conditioning and to alter either your instinctive behavior or your social environment so as to better live true to your values, gain power, and maximize your well-being.
- Every group’s value system resulted from the relatively irrational processes of evolution and civilization. It would be approaching a miracle if your society had already figured out how to optimize every member’s realization of its values, let alone how to maximize everybody’s well-being. Societal values can be a useful heuristic, but if we prioritize social reasoning over rational reasoning, we have no chance of ever moving from good enough guesses to better truths.
Even though social conditioning is useful and necessary to an extent, being a ‘rational rebel’ is generally better. In fact, social conditioning itself could be made better if it was shaped by rationality. This is the lifeblood of social progressivists. A rational progressivist, however, cannot be a ‘social justice warrior’ unwilling or unable to understand human biology, sexuality, history, and traditionalism.
Once you have values in life that constitute your True Will, a rational frame improves your life in all that you truly want to do because rationality gives you the most effective tools to live well and to actualize your values, whatever they may be.
If, instead of living true to your values, you want to live true to your feelings and have an emotional frame, you may also wish for a rational father figure in your life who reliably protects you, provides for you, cares for your well-being, and boosts your social status by association.
Lastly, be aware that the desire to bring more balance into your life either rationalizes your emotionality when your Will should dominate, or it comes from a rational frame anyway. Although we know from neuroscience that all human decision making is emotional to a degree, your rational attitude is not something that needs to be moderated. If you have
a reason an intuition why it should, please tell me in the comments below.
- Rationality Vs. Irrationality Vs. Spirituality
- Metaphysical Toughness: The Antidote to Bigotry
- When Reason Needs Emotion: The Problem of Rational Foresight