Although it may no longer show in modernity, it was the dominant methodology accepted as reflecting the Aristotelian belief that man is essentially a rational animal, and thus the general approach towards reaching conclusions should embrace the perspective that the criterion of truth is based upon not sensory, but intellectual and deductive foundations.
But if the thought process fails to utilize the formal laws governing deductive reasoning, and nobody reads Russell or Quine, anyway, what is the difference? Is it merely an appendage to the conclusion reached, by declaring, “That’s the only logical way to think about this!” – and if we add the exclamation point, state it with a clear and loud voice, does that make it so? What is the distinction to be made, from a valuation or validation viewpoint, between decisions and judgments rendered based upon empirical evidence, deductive or logical reasoning, a combination of both or all three, and the contrast as against an “emotional” basis for reaching conclusions?
If an individual engages in complex futures trading on the stock market, for example, and bases such transactional activities upon unscientific methodologies, is it not the success of the venture (i.e., a retrospective judgment on the matter) that will ultimately determine the success or failure of each approach?
Take the hypothetical of the following: Securities and futures trading can now be done with a laptop from home, and we have Jim, Nancy and Deborah, each of whom thinks that he or she constitutes the brilliance of Wall Street’s best and brightest (though none have had any prior experience but are engaged in vocations far and distant from anything to do with it).
Jim looks at the relevant newspaper quotations and likes the way the numbers coalesce, and makes the trade based upon that comforting sensory impression. Nancy, in a different state and unbeknownst to Jim, has been pouring over the numbers, calculating, looking at the history of past performances, and creates an algorithm founded upon a calculus of probabilities, and pushes that computer button to deplete one’s bank account based upon mathematical precision that approaches some semblance of certainty, but never quite. And Deborah, well, she possesses on this day a certain “instinctive” feeling about a particular futures trade, and proceeds entirely upon this emotional response. Of the three, whom do we consider as validated, worthy of following or respecting of methodologies?
If Deborah were to increase her portfolio by, say, 500%, and Jim merely breaks even but Nancy loses her proverbial shirt, would we dismiss it by thinking, “Ah, just pure luck”? On the other hand, if Jim were to make a nominal profit, Nancy were to obtain significant returns, and it was Deborah who lost everything, would it change our attitudes and confirm the notion that rationalism prevailed because it is the only valid approach to life’s complexities?
The acceptance of rationalism is inevitable for the rational animal; elevating it to a status where all other approaches are stifled, however, can ignore the spectrum of other dimensions just as valid in human life.
For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it may be that “rationality” cautions one to remain in the Federal or Postal job because of job security and financial stability.
But there are other considerations, as well, such as an instinctive will to survive; and when stifling rationalism quiets the voice of health’s call to safety, it may well be time to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire