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"characterized by truth or logic"[edit]

I find the definition "characterized by truth or logic" suspect, which is why I have replaced it with the one from Webster 1913.

Judging from revision as of 2003, the definition was possibly meant to apply to phrases "rational statement" and "rational argument", but the creator has given "A logical statement, a logical argument" as an example.

The definition has gathered the following synonyms and antonyms:


  • (characterized by truth or logic): logical


  • (characterized by truth or logic): illogical, irrational, nonsensical

In the absence of plausible example sentences, and also the absence of cases of behavior or reasoning to which the term applies, it is difficult to judge whether these synonyms and antonyms should still apply to the definition now entered, and whether they should apply to any definition proper of "rational" at all. --Dan Polansky 09:41, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Etymology 1[edit]

From Old French rationel, rational < Latin rationalis (of or belonging to reason, rational, reasonable) < ratio (reason)

The term historically initiates with the latin "ratio," where "rat-" means thought. The ratio article here also shows "calculation" as a translation for the Latin noun, and hence the line should read:

From Old French rationel, rational < Latin rationalis (of or belonging to reason, rational, reasonable) < ratio (reason or calculation)

Interestingly, the English part of the page shows ratio used entirely in mathematical terms or as a legal term, which supports including "calculation" in the above line. Judaical decisions are, in a sense, calculations; often they are political calculations. I have read a judicial opinion that separated "rational" from "right and wrong," where an argument simply needs to be rationalized to be judicially supported. This was a State of Rhode Island court decision to uphold a police department's desire to hire only candidates who had low scores on an intelligence exam. It seems that the judge was be calculating a decision based on a finite set of ideas before him, which brings to mind the legal use of the term. The decision would seem absurd, as a stupid police department would create a clear channel for crime and corruption. The definition shows rational as meaning "not absurd," but the Judge's rational decision in this case is absurd!
From common use, the English word "ration" would, on the surface, to appear to be derived from math; a ration as a portion, or ratio, of an under-supplied resource such as food or gasoline. English "ration" derives from from the French word of the same spelling, which, in turn, derives from the accusative singular of Latin ratiō, which brings us back to "calculation." The English "reason," which is usually associated with rationality, likewise comes to us from the French: "raison." This French word, in turn, comes to us from the Latin "rationem," again an accusative of the Latin "ratiō."
There is an interesting nuance about the Roman use of the word that implies that Roman thought was calculating, what I would think of as Machiavellian. And Roman history would support this! But we know healthy thought to be a mixture of different kinds of thought components including emotion, imagination, analysis, and conceptual construction. And we know that the facilities that support this various kinds of thought components come to us through evolution, so we know that they existed before Roman times! I wonder if there is another Latin term for thought that is more emotional or creative, or if Romans simply did not think in these "modern" ways. If so, I wonder how the use this term in modern language has influenced modern schools of thought such as we find in the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment. My gut sense is that there were Roman terms for the different components of thought, and that ratiō actually refers only to calculating thought. I am looking hard for examples to support this above hypothesis.

--John Bessa 18:44, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

I looked further, and found my gut sense to be correct. My first guess from common language that compares rational and reasonable brought me to the same Latin ratiō, which leans towards the calculating and mathematical. But saying that Romans thought purely mathematically would be biased as that would make them like no others, so I took another synonym of reasonable: sensible. This brought me to the other components of thought that I mentioned above.
The path to wiktionary references went thus:
sensible > Latin sentire or sentio > Lithuanian sintėti > Proto-Indo-European *sent- (“to head for, go")
Rome did not have a native word to describe this "flip side" of thought, so presumably Romans used Northern European-based words.
Definitions from wide-spread languages group closely giving an impression of seeking, which implies travel and absorbtion, in contrast to calculating, which is stationary and introverted:
  • to head for
  • to go
  • to think
  • to desire
  • path
  • way
Spanish sensible is actually referred to as a false friend to reasonable, further widening the gap.
It would likewise be biased to say that unrelated cultures don't have these language components. Zen gives us a clue with the idea of "thinking with no mind," in other words, without preconception almost like RADAR. The impression I got of this Zen approach (usually to violence) is that calculation happens in a Samurai's mind as information is "acquired," giving a machine-like response, but the incoming information is really sensed, and hence "felt" further supporting the above progression. The Samurai's response is hence empathic rather than calculating, as described by "no-sword technique" in the Life-giving Sword.
Other relevant pages I went to: etymonline , sensible vs. reasonable (last entry raises questions), Tocharian (root language for sensible)

--John Bessa 20:53, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

The best thing seems to be to link to ratio#Latin and just let them read the definition. Mglovesfun (talk) 16:41, 26 February 2010 (UTC)
The syntax of these lines is extremely attractive, as must be the underlying code -- the best use of hypertext linking for etymology that I have seen. I have looked at a number of pages and, so far, I have not seen an etymology like this that is purely hypertext link. Your suggestion would deprecate a excellent extension of the what appears to be the traditional standard; it is technologically regressive.--John Bessa 16:52, 26 February 2010 (UTC)