August’s discussion on the TED Circle’s subject IRRATIONAL? was interesting and important, particularly as a thought-provoking topic that is seldom discussed. But what is irrational? or, could we be irrational?
Looking first at the definition of the word irrational we read on the Cambridge Dictionary that it is defined as “not using reason or clear thinking”, and the Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary defines it as “not rational: such as lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence”. Just a careful reading of these two definitions gives us two different meanings, not using reason nor having mental clarity. Are those really integrated into a single meaning?
If we describe someone's feelings and behavior as irrational, it mostly would mean their feelings are not based on logical reasoning or clear thinking. In a sense, this means that not being rational would imply that the person does not have the faculty of reason. But is it true?
As experts say, there are hidden forces that shape our decisions, or our way of acting.
The TEDx Talk that we watched this month was a very interesting talk by Robert Sapolsky called, “The biology of our best and worst selves” (Robert Sapolsky's TED Talk Link).
Our discussions focused on:
- How should we be?
- How should we act?
- How do we change?
As we learn these, we need to know our history, both known and unknown, and de we expect to be reflected on our future history.
Then we switched gears as how do we see ourselves, form the philosophical, biological, and societal perspectives. Also, the environment affects our wellbeing as well as our rational or irrational behavior.
We can be useful, more than what we might be at the moment, but at the end it is a decision to act. We have the potential to do better, act better and behave better. Whether we do it or not will affect our surroundings and our environment, affecting many more people than we imagine. But the potential we have needs to be oriented towards the good ideas and the better intentions, not the bad ones (we have the possibility to turn into what we do not desire). Thus, we need to see ourselves from these different possible perspectives.
In doing so, we need to be conscious about our subconscious. It means, we need to be aware of our subconsciousness and what issues do affect our conscience. If being or acting irrational means that we do not use our reasoning, we need to understand it in a better way until we act rational. And the environment in which we grow and develop (and also prosper) affects us in many ways. Do we move towards peace or violence? Do we accept violence if and when it is good for us? Just different perspectives on different visions.
Many thoughts and issues may become irrational to us; some others will not. We are able to choose, and we are able to decide. And what may be irrational for some might not be for others. Thus, we need to understand and be empathic most of the times.
Towards the end we all agreed that change can be good and that most changes are adaptations to a new moment and a world and therefore our minds need to be open to the new change and the new conditions that may arise.
Some of the comments from our groups that you will find on the images were the following:
- Barbara Nathalie Hernandez: Our awareness of the origin of our behaviors and values are essential to be able to tip the balance to caring people and societies;
- Luis Vicente García: Considering our irrationality we realize that it is with greater emotional intelligence that we can make better decisions as a society;
- Ramon Burgos: Considering our irrationality only the reflection on our past experiences has made us transcend the legacy that we leave with our actions, paradoxically, consciously, and rationally;
- Melany Kors: Considering our irrationality and reflecting on who we are and on our environment is how we can learn to generate those magnificent changes in our lives and inspire others;
- Miryam Sosa: Considering our irrationality ... Understanding my emotions and values, based on compassion, and taking the environment into account allows me to make better decisions as an individual and impact as a society;
- Pily Modroño: Considering our irrationality, we need to recognize that our knowledge of the human is so basic that it becomes -then- an irresistible invitation to enter that wonderful world to know, to respect ourselves more and create a society with high levels of consciousness.
We ended in one of our circles with one of our members reading the final quote from Mr. Sapolsky’s Talk which I believe is very appropriate to end this article on irrationality:
“Those who don’t study the history of extraordinary human change, those who don’t study the biology of what can transform us from our worst to our best behaviors, those who don’t do this are destined not to be able to repeat these incandescent, magnificent moments."