Rationalism and Evolution : Part I


Many analysts have inquired into the principles of rationalism and evolution. This is partly because they play a primary and yet largely unseen role in everyday interpersonal (and intrapsychic) developments. It is also because both principles have positive and negative elements, or constituent parts ; which, depending on the circumstances whereupon they persist, can be either beneficial or pernicious. From here, it seems only appropriate to introduce these principles in terms of their relationship to the problem of action (i.e. what ought to be), since this will perhaps suitably demonstrate their fundamental characters. Rationalism, on the one hand, is a principle that is entirely grounded in reason and therefore only a component of those actions which are logically justifiable. However, it should not be mistakenly inferred from this definition that all actions which can be logically justified are right (1). The principle of evolution, on the other hand, is present in action predicated upon wisdom ; that is, inherited knowledge which has been gradually acquired through considerable experience. For example, the practice of delayed gratification (2). Nonetheless, wise actions can actually prove unhelpful or even injurious as a response to certain novel circumstances or facts. Put differently, “what worked yesterday doesn’t always work today.”

Dylan Shetler is a freelancing writer and Christian apologist. You can follow him on Twitter @shetler_dylan

References :

1. https://www.litcharts.com/lit/crime-and-punishment/themes/criminality-morality-and-guilt

2. https://yellowballoons.net/delayed-gratification-2/


  1. How do you determine the correct proportion of rationalism and evolution ? I know it’s probably difficult to tell because such measures cannot be quantified.

    However, are there any key qualitative indicators that an idea has the right balance of both?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent question! Here’s a proposition (no doubt imperfect) : you need wisdom (evolved knowledge) to act in the world, but wisdom is necessarily insufficient since its successful application is generally limited to those circumstances which have already been experienced.

    I suppose then that an idea which contains somewhat of a balance of wisdom and rationalism might be identified by the equality of respect it maintains towards both established ideas and the possibility of generating new one’s (something often accomplished by adding to or slightly changing preexisting ideas). Then again, I’m merely speculating.

    Perhaps a valid example might be law, that is, the prevailing conception of what constitutes “justice.” Law seems to be an abstract set of ideas about “what is right.” Additionally, It is subject to constant change. Legislation, is the task, usually undertook by lawyers, to articulate those sets of ideas. Sometimes, however, this articulation necessitates quite a bit of rationalism, especially when it comes to formulating explicit rules for new or special circumstances.

    Liked by 1 person

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