Translation of "Feeling Rational"

Eliezer Yudkowsky, “Feeling Rational”, public translation into Estonian from English More about this translation.

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Feeling Rational

A popular belief about "rationality" is that rationality opposes all emotion - that all our sadness and all our joy are automatically anti-logical by virtue of being feelings. Yet strangely enough, I can't find any theorem of probability theory which proves that I should appear ice-cold and expressionless.

So is rationality orthogonal to feeling? No; our emotions arise from our models of reality. If I believe that my dead brother has been discovered alive, I will be happy; if I wake up and realize it was a dream, I will be sad. P. C. Hodgell said: "That which can be destroyed by the truth should be." My dreaming self's happiness was opposed by truth. My sadness on waking is rational; there is no truth which destroys it.

Rationality begins by asking how-the-world-is, but spreads virally to any other thought which depends on how we think the world is. By talking about your beliefs about "how-the-world-is", I mean anything you believe is out there in reality, anything that either does or does not exist, any member of the class "things that can make other things happen". If you believe that there is a goblin in your closet that ties your shoe's laces together, then this is a belief about how-the-world-is. Your shoes are real - you can pick them up. If there's something out there which can reach out and tie your shoelaces together, it must be real too, part of the vast web of causes and effects we call the "universe".

Feeling angry at the goblin who tied your shoelaces involves a state of mind that is not just about how-the-world-is. Suppose that, as a Buddhist or a lobotomy patient or just a very phlegmatic person, finding your shoelaces tied together didn't make you angry. This wouldn't affect what you expected to see in the world - you'd still expect to open up your closet and find your shoelaces tied together. Your anger or calm shouldn't affect your best guess here, because what happens in your closet does not depend on your emotional state of mind; though it may take some effort to think that clearly.

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