Cognizance implies recognition of principles, facts, events etc., implies awareness of existence of principles, facts, and events, implies awareness of one’s very own existence.
It is fact that most people are not aware of their existence until they turn about 5 years old. This is the reason most of us do not have any memories of our existence until about that age. With all of the evolution of time since commencement of formal education, the age of five remains seminal as proxy time for arrival at some semblance of cognizance. Importance of arrival at some cognizance of the self is the reason commencement of Elementary School is delayed until children turn five.
My second son was lucky enough to be born in the month of October, meaning the state of Virginia insisted he turn five in October of 2008 before he could commence Elementary School. So then he had to wait until September of 2009.
My first son was luckier. Born in the month of September, the same state graciously insisted he commence Elementary School in the same month within which he turned five, that is, in September of 2007.
So then, two sons born one year apart, yet two years apart in school because the state considers cognizance not well attained until a child fully turns five. So far as I am aware, most states in the United States take the ‘turn fully five’ rule very seriously.
You might have gotten ahead of me as you read the preceding paragraph, wondered why we ship children off to preschool at 2 or 3 years old when the same states within which we live have recognized cognizance is not well developed until children turn five.
Blame our job lives, blame the fact that women no longer are able to stay at home to nurture children while they remain young, blame the competitive culture that now is ubiquitous to society, blame whatever, the truth is we are demanding cognizance from children much earlier than we admit is best.
Regardless, and given it has become largely unavoidable, some states attempt to mitigate demands on children as much as possible. In the state of Virginia, preschool cannot be more than three hours a day, and kids cannot commence preschool until they turn three or are potty trained, whichever comes later. At three years old, kids can do no more than three days a week of preschool. At four years old, no more than four days a week. Only kids like my second son who turn five well prior to commencement of Elementary School have opportunity to attend preschool five days a week.
We tried as much as possible not to allow our second son realize how much longer he had to wait to commence Elementary School, else if he had cognizance of it, he probably would have been unhappy he now could go to preschool, which he enjoyed, five days a week. I believe his mother and I succeeded in this endeavor. In wake of all of the bad news coming out of Virginia of recent, while I no longer live in Virginia, and while my kids continue to live with their mother in Virginia, limiting of preschool time for kids is one good thing out of the state of Virginia.
Consider then the notion of rationality. Whenever people act rationally, they do not act in contradiction to whatever it is they already deem to be true. In this regard, it does not matter whether what they deem to be true only is subjectively true. All that matters is they believe such and such a thing to be true.
Whenever a person who denies the Holocaust calls Jews liars, he or she acts rationally, yet without empathy. After all, he or she can no more prove their subjective belief about the Holocaust than Jews can help everyone relive what they state as fact so everyone can arrive at factual, as opposed to evidence based truth. Needless to say, it would be reprehensible for anyone to demand a reliving of such fratricide just so they can believe it ever was possible. Non-Jews who assert reality of the Holocaust believe the evidence available is sufficient for arrival at reality of the event. Those who choose not to believe assert the evidence is too scratchy for their sensibilities.
The point of the illustration? While a person who believes the Holocaust occurred would be irrational to tell Jews to suck it up, a person who believes the Holocaust did not occur would be rational to assert the same, yet considered rude and non-empathetic. The take away?
Absent imposition of some structure on rationality, rationality is totally and unambiguously an ambiguous principle.
In presence of imposition of some structure, we are able to arrive at different characterizations of rationality. Consider for instance ‘religious rationality’, which is, living without question by codes of a religion. Note this is not the same thing as spirituality. If Jesus had been religious, he would not have run afoul of the religious leaders of His day.
No one who conforms religiously ever is persecuted by a religious establishment.
A religious code never is centered on the people, always is centered on maintenance of it’s very own existence.
Spiritual codes always are centered on people. Jesus centered His life and teachings on Love for oneself and others, not on maintenance of Himself as controller over people. Consider that in all of the Gospels, Jesus never mentions attendance at religious ceremonies as evidence for faith in God. In fact, He expressly declared that attendance at religious ceremonies would no longer define those who believe in God, that only love for oneself and love for others would matter for approval from God.
Whenever people subscribe to love for oneself and others, with love evident in actions as rubric for life, they do not subscribe to religion, they subscribe to spirituality.
A somewhat higher level of rationality involves basing of decisions today on payoffs expected to accrue from such decisions tomorrow. With abstraction away from actions society already agrees are immoral, such as murder, perjury, stealing, adultery etc., this is a higher level of rationality because a person takes his or her own decisions, does not act merely on basis of some religious code.
Consider that many people on basis of religion have murdered their neighbors because they were told by religious leaders that they were acting in God’s interests. Let us refer to this higher order of rationality as ‘short-run rationality’.
The rationale for labeling short-run rationality a higher order of rationality in relation to religious rationality will be clear in a moment.
A yet higher level of rationality is acting today in a manner that is sustainable ad infinitum (forever). If a scenario that occurs this year repeats itself 10 years from now and all of the parameters are similar, under this rationality rubric, you take the exact same decision 10 years from now. Let us refer to this rationality rubric as ‘ad infinitum rationality’.
Management of inflation in the United States can for instance be regarded as ad infinitum rationality. Regardless of whoever is at the helm of the Federal Reserve, the Federal Reserve either is increasing interest rates, or decreasing interest rates. A Federal Reserve Chairman is not a genius because he deviates from this rationality rubric, rather is genius because he or she knows how best to deploy the same rubric utilized by predecessors.
As outlined, the ranking of rationality in increasing order of rationality, which is, religious rationality, short-run rationality, and ad infinitum rationality is not perfect, but can be justified on basis of demands on cognizance.
Let us assume that a person who adopts ad infinitum rationality has taken time to think through all of the dimensions of an issue for arrival at what reasonably could be the best course of action for resolving of a particular issue or situation. The Federal Reserve illustration serves as a case in point.
Clearly, and for the same person, ad infinitum rationality implies better cognizance of all of the dimensions of an issue than short-run rationality, which takes actions on basis only of what would happen in the next month or year. In order to take a decision that benefits you next year, you need only grapple with parameters that exist within the next year, not all of the parameters that possibly could exist until the day of your death. In order to arrive at determination of a response that always is the best response, which is essence of ad infinitum rationality, you need better grasp of all of the parameters and dimensions of a matter.
We find then that attempts at adoption of ad infinitum rationality place a greater weight on cognizance of principles, facts, and events than attempts at adoption of short-run rationality.
Consider then religious rationality. In context of religious rationality, a person looks to their religious creed for guidance on issues. Matters are not necessarily thought out on their own merits. Philosophical positions on abortion, divorce, marriage, contraceptives, the place of religion in society, secularism of society etc. all are received and practiced as religious dogma. Given subscription to religious rationality implies abstraction away from parameters of issues, there is little or no demand on cognizance. Religious rationality relies on judgment of religious leaders for arrival at philosophical positions on issues of life.
Why do people adopt religious rationality? Because they believe that if they tote the religious creed religiously, the religious organization will look out for their economic welfare.
If religious rationality were not rewarded economically, normativeness of importance of cognizance would ensure only short-run, or ad infinitum rationality are options on the table.
While it may be true that religion is opium of the masses, it is so only for the masses who do not know how to game the religion system, who do not know how to turn adherence to the opium into economic gain.
At end of it all, while rationality can be ranked in many different ways, one thing always must be normative, which is, any definitions of rationality that cannot be ranked relative to some characterization of cognizance are exercises in irrationality.
Consider that while the world was assumed to be flat, no one attempted to venture far off on their seas for fear of falling off the face of the earth. If today someone were to be afraid that a ship on which they sail will fall off the face of the earth, we would consider such a person irrational. Back when people thought the earth was flat, such a person would be considered rational. The difference? The improvement in cognizance of the human race about the shape of the earth.
Importance of cognizance for characterization of rationality is in part essence of development of writing.
Rationality cannot be dissociated from cognizance. This is the reason all rationality constructs can be communicated in writing, must be communicable in writing.
Absent some ranking relative to cognizance, rationality is impossible to define because as already stated, to be rational is to act in consonance with principles, facts, events etc. of which a person already is aware.
While it must be admitted that rationality starts off innate, it is well accepted that education, spirituality, and knowledge in general help refine innate rationality. It further is well accepted that people can grow up in environments within which actions that can be shown to be innately irrational become acceptable behavior.
Consider that lions do not kill other lions for food. In fact, no animal kills it’s own kind for food. Animals kill their own kind for sex, power, control, never for food. Even when they kill for sex, power, or control, the two animals that fight have to agree to a fight. Whenever an old lion slinks off without putting out much of resistance, as such leaves it’s pride to a younger lion, the younger lion does not pursue. The younger lion spends it’s time enjoying it’s new pride. Guess lions are rational that way.
We conclude then that whenever a society of humans practices cannibalism, they practice something that is irrational, that is non-cognitive, but that has become acceptable behavior. We do not derive irrationality from behavior of animals, but from principle evident in behavior of animals, which is, your own species either is meant for food or for relationship, not both. When cannibals pick some of their own kind for relationship, and others for food they demonstrate irrationality. All of this leads to an important recognition, which is, rationality cannot necessarily be deduced from commonality of actions.
An entire society can abdicate cognizance for arrival at societal values.
The next time you consider actions or attitudes that have become societal values, that have become common, actions or values that you practice, do well to ask yourself the extent to which you have applied cognizance to your adoption of the societal value. Perhaps even more importantly, ask yourself just how cognizant you remain of the self that you recognized at about five years old.