The Proper Place of Reason

Builds Upon: Photography, Transience, Memories

Reason is not a religion, it is a tool.

There are those who have attained a state of pure reason after sustaining brain damage. Rather than being paragons of a new rational humanity, they usually have trouble getting out of bed in the morning.
Without emotion, staying in bed indefinitely is just as good as saving humanity. It makes no difference.
Someone who can no longer feel is perfectly reasonable but they have lost all ability to make value judgments about what reason ought to be applied to.

Reason is a tool, and a human being of pure reason is but a tool without a user. Without any emotionally driven will, one’s haphazard efforts collapse into confusion. If choices cannot be emotionally weighed, all choices are effectively the same. How then does one choose?

It is our inner drive and desire that make doing anything worthwhile. It is the emotional being that tells us where we want to be. Reason is our tool for actually getting there.

Once we have something to reason about, we use our imaginations to create a model of the universe without all the things we are unable to define. This leaves us with a body of information our faculty of reason can properly work with.

Unfortunately, it has become commonplace to confuse a quantitative model of the universe for the universe itself.

Those who see the observable and quantifiable as the sole reality are bound to hit barriers. Barriers that can only be removed through incontrovertible proof. Such a meticulous approach has allowed humans to achieve amazing levels of understanding of the universe but it is not necessarily the best approach outside of controlled laboratory conditions.
Consider a courtroom:
Criminals generally don’t want to commit crimes in front of witnesses. Thus the essential role of circumstantial evidence that can eliminate all reasonable doubts. A scientific approach to the case would only be able to produce convictions in the most obvious of cases.
Jurors are forced to rely on their instincts and intuition in arriving at a verdict.

In every day life, reason is indispensable in telling us what possibilities are most likely, but it is either too time consuming or impossible to be absolutely sure in most situations.

Reason is like a ship that can get us as far as the next land. Without it, we would be lost at sea. But once arrived, it is the intuition that must disembark and explore inland.

The intuition can lead us astray, but once astray we can return to reason and figure out what most likely went wrong. By repeating this refining process we arrive at an answer that would be inaccessible to pure reason. By repeating, we hold our intuition accountable to truths achievable by reason and thereby keep it fine tuned to the nature of the universe.
This process involves applying a sort of intuitive calculus:
We can’t ever be completely certain, any given hypothesis can only approach certainty. It’s all about eliminating reasonable doubts.
Where no reasonable doubts remain, formal science can attempt to produce a proof.

As a man with no emotions cannot make value judgments, a stubbornly literal minded scientist won’t be able to figure out the right questions to ask or the best ways of exploring them.
Though the power of reason cannot be doubted, it is still a tool in the hands of the intuitive self.


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