Fibonacci series -- and Culture

George Snedeker snedeker at
Mon Feb 19 16:39:29 MST 2001


now, you have gone too far. "rational" is not a word like "big." "rational"
has a philosophical history, what we might call "ideological baggage." this
is not the case in the uses of "big." for example, rational can mean
thinking which embodies calculation of means and ends (Weber). it can also
mean that embodies reason in the sense of a humanely rational society.
however, a "rational society" can also mean one which is under domination by
a repressive form of capitalism (Marcuse). so things are not so country
simple. perhaps it would be better to say that there is a dialectical
relation between the two meanings of "rational." my original objection was
to your use of this term as if it were simply a description of a progress
from one form of society to another: feudalism to capitalism? however,
capitalism is both rational and irrational at the same time (Marx).

----- Original Message -----
From: <ScottH9999 at>
To: <marxism at>
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2001 6:17 PM
Subject: Re: Fibonacci series -- and Culture

> George--
> 'Rational' is by no means a "tricky word". It is a very straight-forward
> word. You are simply pointing out that what is rational in one way may not
> rational in another way (or from another point of view). But this is true
> virtually every adjective. Consider the word 'big'. Is a mountain big?
> Compared to a human being, yes. Compared to the earth, no. And note that
> these are NOT difference "senses" of the word 'big'--they are simply
> different comparisons. The word 'big' itself means the same thing in both
> cases.
> As far as I can see there are no great difficulties in the semantic
> or use of the word 'rational'. The only real "difficulties" come from
> (usually those trying to cover up explitative class interests and the
> using the word in objectionable ways.
> --Scott Harrison
> In a message dated 2/19/01 2:50:55 PM Pacific Standard Time,
> snedeker at writes:
> > > >>> ScottH9999 at 02/17/01 01:57PM >>>
> >  > It is a fact of history that at various times some cultures are more
> >  > technologically, scientifically, and socially advanced than others.
> if
> >  we
> >  > are going to talk about the "rationality" of cultures at all, it
> >  seem
> >  > quite reasonable to say that some cultures are therefore more
> >  than
> >  > others. Doing so should only mean that the prevailing world views,
> >  > understanding of the world, and such, which typify a culture, are
> >  > rational than those which typify another culture.
> >  >
> >  > ))))))))))))))
> >  >
> >  > CB: Nuclear weapons are "more" technologically and scientifically
> >  "advanced", but are they more rational ?
> >  GS:
> >  "as I tried to suggest earlier, "rational" is a trickey word. clearly
> one
> >  sense, they are more rational, in their efficiency. they kill more
> >  however, in a second meaning of "rational," one that implies human
> >  betterment, they are clearly not more rational. oh yes, "advanced" is
> >  not the cleareist of terms. in one sense, they are clearly an advance
> >  earilier weapons. you know: they kill more people. my point here? it is
> hard
> >  to get away from our moral concerns. why try?
> >  >

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