# Comments on “Aspects of reasonableness”

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### Some thoughtful reccomendations

Hi David,

Still enjoying your writing. Nice!

I think there are a couple of things worth reccomending, that would interest you, considering the work you are currently doing. If you have a couple of minutes - probably worth your time.

Catafalque, by Peter Kingsley

Catafalque would be a great book for you to read that would probably deeply interest you in particular.

Take care,

Will

### That reasonable/rational/meta

That reasonable/rational/meta-rational table reminds me of Terence Tao’s pre-rigorous/rigorous/post-rigorous progression in learning mathematics, which shows up in many other domains as well. (And which could be a way of characterizing the K3/K4/K5 progression as well.)

It is of course vitally important that you know how to think rigorously, as this gives you the discipline to avoid many common errors and purge many misconceptions. Unfortunately, this has the unintended consequence that “fuzzier” or “intuitive” thinking (such as heuristic reasoning, judicious extrapolation from examples, or analogies with other contexts such as physics) gets deprecated as “non-rigorous”. All too often, one ends up discarding one’s initial intuition and is only able to process mathematics at a formal level, thus getting stalled at the second stage of one’s mathematical education. (Among other things, this can impact one’s ability to read mathematical papers; an overly literal mindset can lead to “compilation errors” when one encounters even a single typo or ambiguity in such a paper.)

The point of rigour is not to destroy all intuition; instead, it should be used to destroy bad intuition while clarifying and elevating good intuition. It is only with a combination of both rigorous formalism and good intuition that one can tackle complex mathematical problems; one needs the former to correctly deal with the fine details, and the latter to correctly deal with the big picture. Without one or the other, you will spend a lot of time blundering around in the dark (which can be instructive, but is highly inefficient). So once you are fully comfortable with rigorous mathematical thinking, you should revisit your intuitions on the subject and use your new thinking skills to test and refine these intuitions rather than discard them.

### What kind of systems thinking is needed for metarationality?

Great fan of your work!

I was curious, what maturity of systems/formal thinking do you think is needed for one to practice metarationality?

If one needs PhD level training, then it seems that metarationality will only be accessible to the few.

However, it seems to me that people casually deal with systems and ontologies in the form of categories every day, and I wonder if there is a gentler path to metarationality that is less hard core? Does the casual categorization that people use every day even count as rational-thought-work in your book? Or would it fall under reflexive reasonableness?

The TL;DR: I wonder how much metarational work can be done without a lot of rational training first, or simply by engaging with baby-rational or baby-formal work. Or is rational work really a prerequisite and catalyst for getting better at metarationality?

Thanks!

### metacognition and pre-rationality

Very interesting! Thank you for your insights. A few thoughts that occurred to me:

- In the education system, seems like PhD is the first time where there are no more guardrails or training wheels, hence having to confront reality, where systems fail. Perhaps we need to start having people confront reality
*earlier*? - Related to the above, even without mastering rationality/systems, many people confront the reality that their
*tools*fail. How one orients to that seems to fall under the domain of metacognition. I wonder how much of your work will be about doing metacognition in general, to better support the sub-specialty of metarationality. - I imagine that for many people, rational systems kind of just fall out of the sky/are thrust upon them, without much explanation. If the system works, great. If not, people are lost. What if those rational systems were better motivated in education via
*metacognitive*reasoning? - Where I’m landing is that it seems like the missing piece for many people is taking metacognition seriously, and metacognition seems like it may be a pre-rational activity in the sense that it is a muscle that can be built without rationality as a prerequisite. It’s also very much an ongoing process. That first metacognitive insight might be that one has to leverage the power of systems and formal methods. But then one might fall into the complacency trap of pursuing the One real system. However, if one was primed to metacognitive thinking previously, then hopefully one would be more predisposed to the next move to metarationality.

## Alignment with Kegan stages?

How well does reasonable, rational, meta-rational align with the Kegan stages? For example, could stages 0-2 align with the development of reasonableness, 3-4 (i.e. formal operations) of rationality, and 5 of meta-rationality? Stage 3 would perhaps be the less systematic precursors to stage 4’s systematic rationality.