Real is Rational, Rational is Real

There is fun in romanticizing what we do not know, as it gives rise to creative thought. To realise that there are a bunch of things which we cannot know or can comprehend opens up heaps of possibilities. However, the argument

Real is rational and rational is real

makes things very REAL 😛

Reality as we know it originates from the perception of everything our mind has. It has been conditioned not only from the time we were born, but also from the hundreds of thousands of years of the evolution of human brain. Therefore there are some perceptions that we all have in common, which is a sum of all experiences of our collective past, with a variable, factoring in the experiences we have had since childhood.

Rationality on the other hand, is a set of tools, that is almost always acquired. Rational thinking has evolved with time but it has always been restricted to the tools that we have had to reason stuff out with.

Example: A vast majority of folks did not understand the science of medicine 1000 years ago and hence a disorder in the thinking process was seen as an effect of the supernatural on an individual. Coronavirus in prehistoric time would have wiped out entire populations if the tribe didn’t decide to kill anyone and everyone who even had a tinge of fever, as it would have been rational for them to eliminate anyone who is infested. Today that has changed.

In both of the examples above, the reality of a disorder, one of the mind and another one of the lungs is the same. However, rational thought process treats both of them very differently depending on the time duration in consideration.

Both these examples are however, very real. Life is not all about diseases.

What about emotions like love and care? Irrespective of the time in consideration, there is no rational response or a playbook to follow. In situations governed by these emotions, reality or at least the perception of it alters.

Example: An extremely successful YouTube creator Casey Neistat was on the peak of his career about a couple of years ago. He was a rage, vlogging everyday, and hooking people up to his content every time they would open Youtube. At the turn of the decade, when content creation as a business was actually picking up he gave up daily vlogging, moved out of NYC to take better care of his family and spend more time with them. Sounds completely irrational to you and me. For him and his family however, my rational tools don’t make sense.

So as we see in tangible and intagible situations rationality and reality have an intersectional as well as a parallel path.

Not everything is disease or love. What about a more meta topic. Who created us and is something else out there? What is our purpose? (To please a God, to carry out God’s mission, or to play a part on a round stage?)

Concepts of

  • Time travel
  • Alternate universes
  • A super power that controls everything going on earth

may or may not be real. Here the arguments to be made are very different. If my brain (a tool) can think of laws that can create an environment where a reality with aforementioned concepts exist, do these still remain a fantasy or do they become real. Just like our particle in a box experiment that gives rise to the emperical gaseous state equations 😛

Hegel, the philospher who birthed the phrase “Real is rational and rational is real” is implicating that

whatever necessarily follows from reasoning, is reality.

A simpler way to put it will be that if, even in a thought experiment:

  1. The context is set
  2. Governing conditions defined

and the arguments put foward sound (in the limitations that have been set), the conclusions derived will be real. What this alludes to, is, if you can think it, its real. Cause everything that’s rational is variable from person to person, time to time and so there is no correct rationality. Only contextual.

What this puts to rest is the argument that there are some things out side the imagination of human brain that exist and we may never be able to know them. Hegel is probably trying to tell us that if you can’t even imagine it, then it probably isn’t real, in this realm, or in another.

For me this is a challenging statement to internalise. What if my imagination has a bound. What if the mind is limited and there are definitely things out there which I cannot imagine. But as soon as I imagine the thing, I cannot imagine, it doesn’t remain unreal. Cool right? 😀

Phew! The mind palaces can remain, and we can dream again 😛

Happy Saturday.

Image courtesy: respective owners.

Do give the song below a listen. It is by Andrew Applepie.


SST View All →

A graduate from BITS Pilani, class of 2019, I am currently working as a Product Manager at Flipkart. I like to write about things that get stuck in my head. By writing I make sure everyone knows what absurd thoughts I have :P Thanks for visiting.

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