[The previous series, 106, can be found [url=http://www.evangelicaluniversalist.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=379&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a]here. An index with links to all parts of the work as they are posted can be found here. This series, 107, picks up with the topic arrived at the end of the previous series. The current overall topic of series 106 through 109, is the relation of reasoning to belief.]
[Entry 1 for “A Question of External Validation of Reasoning”]
Most people in most circumstances (to reiterate a paragraph at the end of the previous series) accept and understand that a non-rationally produced belief cannot be trusted very far to deliver an answer worth listening to, in and of itself. It may exhibit many other qualities; but a non-rationally produced belief cannot be trusted with respect to what it ‘claims’ to be–even if the belief happens to be accurate with respect to facts, or even beneficial.
If my brother, Spencer, thinks he has good grounds for believing that my belief of a snake in the hole has been fostered purely from a cocaine-fit (see previous series for the introduction of this analogy, inspired by an old Robin Williams comedy routine), then he would not (or at least should not) be embarrassed to discover there was, after all, a snake in the hole. He had no good reason to believe the snake was there.
Furthermore, my argument that he (and I) should stay away from the hole was ultimately untrustworthy. The form of the argument that we should stay away from the hole was not itself invalid; but without the anchor of rationality at the beginning, there was no good reason to pay attention either to my initial belief (“a snake is in the hole”) or to my consequent inferred belief (“we should stay away from the hole”)–despite the fact that my second belief was, as far as it went, rational!
In other words, there would be no good reason for Spencer to pay attention to my idea with respect to what it claimed to be–or more precisely, what I claimed for it. There would be no good reason for Spencer to pay attention to me, as a person making a personal claim of truth.