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Alternatives to Cognition by Christina Lee

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Chapter 7

Rationality: The Essential Human Characteristic?

I remember my grandmother saying … ‘When I think, I get confused.’

—Schnaitter (1987b, p. 57)

One attraction of theories that emphasize cognition is that they concentrate on an aspect of human nature that is, or at least seems, distinctly and uniquely human: our capacity for rational thought. It is obvious that even rather unintelligent humans can add and subtract, and so forth, whereas the most intelligent members of many other species seem unable to manage these feats.

The fact that humans seem to have an advanced capacity for ratiocination does not logically imply that we have a particularly advanced ability for thinking in general. Thinking is a broad term, used to describe a variety ...

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