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The Philosophy of Irrationality & Anxiety

Updated: Feb 18

A staff-wielding man

Irrationality can be defined as something, such as a concept or even an emotion, that is too deluded to be based on reality. It's something that can make us deluded as well, should we be convinced by it. As we know, delusion is an enemy of philosophizing, as the point of philosophy is to stay farther from it, and not the opposite. For philosophy is the verbal study of reality from a logical standpoint.

The more irrational a being is, the less of a grip they have on reality. Therefore, if one wishes to be closer to the truth, one must decrease irrationality as much as possible. The irrational may have false notions about reality, which could make them a poor judge of it. He or she who lives more in a fantasy world, and correlates their imaginations on their reality perception, cannot be deemed as having a good rational. Why would they?

There are tendencies within us humans that are irrational, in a sense that they are not grounded enough to be objectively defined as correct estimations. For example, people who suffer from anxiety, like me, may find themselves having certain emotions that are too out of proportions in regard to the world outside the consciousness.

The point of a good cognition is to be able to correctly estimate reality and base one's actions upon said estimation. The more accurate it is, the less one is to be guided by their own delusions. The less one is governed by delusions, the more rational they can be deemed.

A good philosopher is expected to have an excellent quality of cognition because their brains are work tools. Having their brains in good conditioning means that they can be more in line with the reality that exists beyond their minds. That is the difference between the good philosopher and the crackpot philosopher. The crackpot theorist will not have their ideas grounded on reality, for example.

By the way, rationality and intelligence may correlate but they are not co-dependent. Dr. Eggman is an example of a character who is extremely intelligent but is too crackpot, or irrational, in order to be successful as an antagonist. That's how the mad scientists usually are. Hyper intelligent beings who lack the rationality to apply their intellect in a way that will overcome their enemies.

I used to fear public transportation before I began using it regularly, as I, at the time, mostly went to places by foot. However, that fear was irrational as the only obstacle that awaits in this case is my own lack of awareness, should I either miss the bus or miss the station (Which happened several times regardless). I grew up since then.

No one should be anxious of something like public transportation, as it by itself lacks actual danger that is worthy of us to be anxious towards. There may be exceptions, yes? But I digress. Whether we like it or not, much of our concerns are irrational. It's not only because they are not grounded enough, but also because there is not much usefulness in having them and giving them a deserved place in our minds. It's a matter of both functionality and understanding. Discard both, and still hold a concern in high regard, and you might as well stay irrational.

When we are concerned of something that cannot be helped, we might often make the mistake of letting this worry too much space, too much "power", or importance. Importance to us, of course. Importance that might as well be both false and even dysfunctional, or harmful to our endeavors. This is why having a calm mind is imperative to be the better judge of reality.

The thing is, even if there are issues that are worthy of importance, it doesn't always mean we can do anything to fix them, if at all. People may be afraid of getting old, for instance, but it's not like it can't be prevented through natural means, correct? We can extend our lifespan but we can't live forever, can we? Then, worrying about getting old is impractical because we will be old regardless of what we do.

Our hair may get white, our skin paler and we may even encounter certain medical conditions that can hinder us in some way. This still does not mean we can solve these problems if these worries are without solution, no matter their value to us.

And that is indeed the overall irrationality that exists within different anxieties, or in other words, in our different feelings of distresses when we are to believe that something bad might happen. That's where reasoning can come in, or in other words, philosophizing. It's point of it is to clarify us from delusion and ground us more in reality.

The more grounded we are in reality, the more we can rid ourselves of unnecessary, impractical and unrealistic anxieties.

When I happened to miss the bus, even if I woke up early for National Service at the time, it should be a given that the bus has left the station and is now on its route forward. Feeling distressed because of it and because of the implications that may follow, won't necessarily help one bring the bus back, get to work in time and so on. My distress won't help, thus giving it too much importance would be irrational, compared to thinking what else can be done to get to the office. Correct?

In philosophy, we must come in terms with things which are either possible facts or given facts. We must recognize the facts and the likelihood of things being fact, so we will not decieve ourselves so unnecessarily. It's obvious that the bus moved on, but maybe it should mean that we should move on too because the past cannot be altered, for it already happened.

If anything, the past deserves its place when it is functional, AKA, when it can help us work towards a better/different future. I utilized my mental scars for work, for example. I utilized my vengeful tendencies to be a better philosopher and to focus more on the craft of article-writing. Using the past as a means to an end is better than wasting time and energies in lamenting it. I suppose we can agree on that.

No amount of worry will get that bus back, so if we want to make it to work, we must think instead on another solution, since sinking in distress is irrational when it is impractical. It would've been practical if it were productive in any way. Perhaps we can learn that, when we miss the bus, to think of ways to reduce that chance of that happening again. Remember: There are times where practicality matters more than our personal sentiments. Such is the case in professional settings.

As such, I regard myself, or at least aspire to be, a consummate professional, when it comes to my work as philosopher and as the head of Philosocom. If something, like a poor, article, doesn't meet results, I will consider deleting it or at least revamp it massively. It's nothing personal, even if emotional investment is or was included. My readership matters more, as it should. Lamenting over how disappointed I am over an article I thought would be interesting, is irrational as it is impractical.

I am not an artist by heart. If my emotional attachment gets in the way, I take a pair of metaphorical scissors and cut it loose. Being able to distinguish between "Kli" and "tochen" is the key to understand reality more accurately.

Hence why I dislike the anxious tendencies within me. For the vast majority of the time, these anxieties are baseless not even on logic itself. It may exist within me, despite my knowledge that there is nothing to be anxious of. Such is the nature of generalized anxiety disorder. That's my only mental disorder, which I'm handling using logic. Rationality calms me.

I am chilling in my apartment at midnight, no noise outside my headphones, and of course, no physical threats whatsoever. Why am I anxious now? Despite said tendencies, I have no idea. So, instead, I choose to avoid giving it an undeserved position.

If we wish to overcome irrationality, we must look beyond it. To the world beyond the mind. We must accept the notion that there might be things we are not enough aware of yet. Or, perhaps, underestimate or over-estimate. Underestimate, like the importance of rest. Overestimate, like a minor discomfort. That is also the fallacy that lies with bias, as bias can make one overlook things, while also making other things, more significant than they actually are. For better, like a test we excelled in despite worry. For the worse, like an error in a math equation that ruined our calculations.

I was told several times that I should consider the intuitive part of the mind. It's part that is more spontaneous and that is not calculated at all; to "go with the flow", to "be like water" and so on. However, as philosopher, I must inquire: What makes intuition rational enough when we are not supposed to question it?

What if the intuition can make one more delusional, and thus, stay further from the truth? Why should we ignore Socratic questioning, when it could yield practical results? It's difficult to trust something, even an intuition, when it can betray our best intentions. It's like coming to a different country as a tourist and expect a complete stranger to be your guide for your whole stay. You don't even know the guy; he might be a scammer or at best as clueless as you are. He might be a professional killer in disguise. Why trust people as much, just because they are nice to you?

I do not claim to be the most rational being, as I am consumed by impractical anxieties. Anxieties I am trying to purify out of my system. Being more rational is key to be good at being a well-respected philosopher. That is the point of philosophizing to begin with: To get closer to understanding reality. With your clarity of thought, you can bring much good to this world, by helping others in need. It's the moral thing to do.

Do not find anything as given fact, before you can rest assured that it's either a fact likely one your emotionality is irrelevant in this case and can mislead you from the truth. Some things are easy to accept things as how our poor rationality draws them to be. Do not yield to it so easily, if it is indeed poor. Question your own rationality, and improve it, if you prefer the truth over your own false beliefs.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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