What “Rational” Means

It’s important to be rational. But what exactly does “rational” mean? A lot of well-intentioned people who mean to be rational don’t understand that the term refers to a method more than anything else. In other words, “rational” does not refer to being correct, while “irrational” refers to being wrong. You can be rational in your method, but still mistaken in your conclusion. You could also be correct in your conclusion, while arriving at it by some method other than reason (such as a guess given the euphemism of “instinct.”) I call something rational if the means by which one came to the conclusion was fact-based, evidence-based and utilized the basic principles of non-contradictory identification (also known as logic). The method is no guarantee of a correct conclusion, although it makes one much more likely. People often ask, “Is it rational or irrational to do such-and-such?” What they’re really asking is, “Is it right or wrong to do such-and-such?” or even worse: “Do you approve of me doing such-and-such, or do you disapprove?” The very nature of the question, and what it implies, is itself irrational. “Rational” refers to a carefully executed method of using your own mind to interact with an objective reality. Your mind must participate in the process.