In scenarios where the metaphorical glass is either half-full or half-empty, so to speak, are there any compelling rational reasons to come down on one side or the other? Or is a person's optimism or pessimism just a character trait independent of rational thought?

Thank you Andrew, for this thoughtful response. I have been wanting to respond with notions of false dichotomies and the like, but yours is far more probing and engaging. In my thought world, however, when someone asks me if the glass is half-empty or half-full (as my academic dean did once!) I simply say it is neither - it is time for a refill! In Vino Veritas, and cheers, bjm

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy Schopenhauer was one of the first philosophers to advocate for the idea that the universe was not something "rational" What is an "irrational" universe then? Is there a difference between a universe being beyond the grasp of human reason and saying that the universe is "irrational"? Does he mean to say that the universe can do things that are illogical such as have square triangles?

It's been years since I've read Schopenhauer, so I cannot respond with his position as such. What I am noticing is that you seem to have excluded other possibilities by assuming that if the universe is not rational it must be irrational. What about non-rational, for example? No squared circles needed! If we posit that rationality is a capacity of human consciousness - and a mysterious thing consciousness is - what might it mean to call the universe "rational?" Are we saying it is conscious? Does the analogy to human consciousness hold sufficiently to apply to the vast universe? There might be human minds that see order and disorder and apply rational principles to their observations, but it is quite another thing to ascribe rationality to ... what? The universe is one of those concepts that is not a reality one can experience. Perhaps we can thank Schopenhauer (and his 19th century counterparts) for helping us see our anthropomorphizing for what it is. Does this help? -bjm

Why do some feminists like to criticize rationality so much? Doesn't that just reinforce the idea that women are less rational?

Let me begin by saying that any meaningful discourse requires reason,including feminist attempts to mount a critique of reason! Feminists differ significantly, so there is no one answer to your query, butthere seems to be a shared conviction that rationality alone is insufficient toshed light on many of the deeper problems humans seek to solve. One wayto ask the question could be: "Given its rightful role in any inquiry,does rationality exhaust all aspects of a given question?" or: “Howdoes one's experience, cultural identity, gender, along with many other socialmarkers shape the nature of the questions one raises and the answers one iswilling to consider ‘rational?’" Historically speaking, the raising and answering of significant humanquestions has been done in the context of educated, white, European maleacademics or clerics. Perhaps Descartes could sit by the fire and believehe is but une chose qui pense ( a thing that thinks), but is this theexperiential norm for most men...