Barriers are irrational yet unrealistic?
Those are two different realms to me. Rationality is about abstract thought. Realism is about concrete sensation.
I also don't agree that barriers are irrational. Sometimes we think too much for ourselves, and our thoughts become convoluted such that our life strategies become inconsistent. We realize things early in life, and then we're thrown into worlds where believe the worlds' goals are important, and barriers are put up to reconcile between our early realizations and the worlds' goals.
Maybe that's why you believe rationality and realism are one and the same though - you believe the worlds' goals are necessarily compatible with our early realizations and that mistakes are made.
However, mistakes can only be made from deception, and the world is the only thing that can deceive. Even if the mind is generated functionally from the brain, that means the mind can only make mistakes if the brain is constructed deceptively.
AC, I don't like barriers, but the key to tearing them down is finding a way to recognize realizations and worldly impressions in a well founded and cohesive framework. For example, understanding a 4 dimensional cube in 3 dimensional context: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesseract
(look at the videos half way down).
There are alternative reconciliations, but I don't see them as optimally proper or completely healthy.
For example, you can throw away your realizations and surrender to worldly impressions, but the problem with that is you no longer have a reason to be respected other than a lucky distribution of power.
You can also make a choice to impose your will on reality, but that can lead to heavy conflict, and reality always wins. The only way you win is if you didn't make any mistakes in the first place such that reality was compatible with you winning, but that begs the question of you winning at all because you might have just been an appendage of reality. Even a win-win possibility would be impossible because a game was never really played. You would just be a spot on the board or a card in the deck instead of a player.
Both of these are very dangerous ways to live. After all, nature is not all kind and friendly. In the cosmopolitan portions of the west, we have this peaceful interpretation of environmentalism, but nature can be rough, cruel, and abominable. It's a dog eat dog world in natural selection. Earthquakes, volcanoes, plagues, etc. Natural disasters go on and on, and of course there's the food chain and life cycle. If you ever visit the developing world, you can see how condemning going with the flow can be.
A barrier is really just a rough alignment between realizations and the world. I don't like reconciliation because reconciliation often involves compromise, yet the goal isn't to change realizations or the world. The goal is only to understand both in the same context.
When that barrier is turned in another direction, it becomes a path.