• In total there are 2 users online :: 1 registered, 0 hidden and 1 guest (based on users active over the past 60 minutes)
    Most users ever online was 616 on Thu Jan 18, 2024 7:47 pm

What is reason, revisited

Engage in conversations about worldwide religions, cults, philosophy, atheism, freethought, critical thinking, and skepticism in this forum.
Forum rules
Do not promote books in this forum. Instead, promote your books in either Authors: Tell us about your FICTION book! or Authors: Tell us about your NON-FICTION book!.

All other Community Rules apply in this and all other forums.
MadArchitect

1E - BANNED
The Pope of Literature
Posts: 2553
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2004 4:24 am
19
Location: decentralized

What is reason, revisited

Unread post

Dissident having dredged the "What is Reason?" thread back up from its grave, I thought it might be possible to readdress the original question I posed by clearing the air a little. That thread is way too long and has gotten entirely too sidetracked to attract any but the most intrepid BookTalk visitors, so a sequel is, I think, in order.First, let's reiterate the question: What is reason?More importantly, why bother with the question? The reason I asked it in the first place is that, in the course of having the discussions we have here, we tend to fall back on reason as a rhetorical point. "You're being unreasonable", for instance, or "reason demonstrates that...." The exercise of reason is, in fact, what this site is all about, and I think it's unfortunate that the word "reason" is so often invoked as a way of shutting down conversation. So what I've proposed is that we talk about what we think reason is and how it should be used so that when its spectre does appear, we can point back to our consensus answer and say, "That's what we mean!" Then, conversation may procede along (presumably) reasonable lines.It all seems so easy. That said, the previous thread ran to over a hundred posts, and we didn't reach much accord on the matter. But some important points were made, and I think a good spring board for revisiting the subject might be a review of the points that were, more or less, agreed upon. That gives you two ready-made points from which to begin discussing reason: 1) you can offer your own definition of reason, or 2) you can comment on the limited consensus we've reached so far.the recapA little over mid-way through the last thread, I offered the following summation, to which I'll append a few points. I wrote, The only thing so far that has struck me as uncontested about reason is this, that it is a means of arriving at a judgement about one thing or another. More precisely, when we talk about reason, we're talking about whatever faculty or group of faculties allows us to arrive at, or at least near to, a correct judgement, in whatever sense we mean "correct", usually in reference to its "soundness".I realize that's vague at points where we might prefer that it be precise, but the important parts that I want to emphasize, mostly because they're the parts that held up the best in discussion last time around, is that reason is a matter of judgement, that it's a means or process (though not necessarily a tool), and that the result is not supposed to be indifferent -- it has to be "true" or "correct" or "sound", whichever of those we mean by "reasonable".That much, at least, we seem to have agreed upon last time. Where the question starts to fall apart, either because we couldn't agree or because we couldn't give a sufficient account of why it would be so, is the point at which we started to consider how reason arrives at its judgement. Logic alone, we seemed to agree, isn't enough. What part does imagination play? What part does experience play? Is reason congruent from person to person, and if not, how do we decide who is more reasonable?That last question is particularly important because the value that we place on reason -- at least in this forum, and presumably in other contexts as well -- is proportionate to its consensibility. The reasonable answer is best because, in theory, it's a tune that we can all play. This is, in large part, what distinguishes reason from the sort of esoteric knowledge associated with magic and some religious traditions, and I would say that it's precisely that distinction which makes reason so important to a freethinking forum like this. It's a question of first importance as to whether or not what we think of when we say "reason" really is consensible in that sense, and if not, it's important that we find away to connect reason to some process of arriving at a judgment that is consensible. Otherwise, we have to re-evaluate the basis of our conversations on this forum -- and that's just about the least of the things we'd need to re-evaluate.Of course, I'm offering the above mostly as a synopsis. All of these points are open to debate. Don't hesitate to speak up if you disagree with any of the points I've made here. Disagreement may be the most fruitful springboard for discussion. Edited by: MadArchitect at: 8/8/06 6:02 pm
User avatar
Dissident Heart

1F - BRONZE CONTRIBUTOR
I dumpster dive for books!
Posts: 1790
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2003 11:01 am
20
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 18 times

Re: What is reason, revisited

Unread post

Mad, by consensibility, do you mean able to be arrived at by consensus? A group of persons can reach a mutually acceptable agreement regarding the term reason that takes into consideration the interests of all persons involved; it may not reach each person's total satisfaction, but it will achieve a level of acceptability that allows for a shared understanding of the term? What is it that determines this mutual level of acceptability, and is this the best approach to understanding the meaning of reason?It seems it would be the dialogue between concerned persons: an exchange of words, ideas, concepts, arguments, appeals, images, stories, etc. Somehow, in the dialogue, a definition arises towards greater accuracy, displaying a compelling sensibility and degree of certainty that says, "This is it, or as good as it gets, for now at least...and this is where we will rest, for the time being, until something better comes along."
MadArchitect

1E - BANNED
The Pope of Literature
Posts: 2553
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2004 4:24 am
19
Location: decentralized

Re: What is reason, revisited

Unread post

Dissident Heart: Mad, by consensibility, do you mean able to be arrived at by consensus?Yup.What is it that determines this mutual level of acceptability, and is this the best approach to understanding the meaning of reason?I would say that consensibility is determined by the mutual satisfaction of all participants. If we can arrive at a definition of reason that we're all satisfied with, at least for use in BookTalk discussions, then I'd say we've reached a consensus.Somehow, in the dialogue, a definition arises towards greater accuracy, displaying a compelling sensibility and degree of certainty that says, "This is it, or as good as it gets, for now at least...and this is where we will rest, for the time being, until something better comes along."Sounds about right to me, except that, instead of accuracy, I'd say we're looking for fidelity. That is, we're trying to achieve a level of fidelity between our own perceptions of what is meant by reason, and some sort of agreement between those individual perceptions.The point isn't to find some universally applicable meaning of reason. But if we, as a community, are going to adhere to a principle of reason, I think we should make some attempt to coordinate what we each mean when we invoke that word. That's all I'm really looking for.
User avatar
Dissident Heart

1F - BRONZE CONTRIBUTOR
I dumpster dive for books!
Posts: 1790
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2003 11:01 am
20
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 18 times

High In-Fidelity

Unread post

Mad: If we can arrive at a definition of reason that we're all satisfied with, at least for use in BookTalk discussions, then I'd say we've reached a consensus.But is consensus building the best way to understand the term? When seeking consensus, each party must be willing to give something up for the sake of mutual gain. What if seeking mutual gain impedes attaining optimal understanding? Perhaps the best way to understand reason requires a steadfast commitment to something more than mutual gain. Then we'd have to determine what that something more involved. Perhaps we'd discover that understanding reason requires a willingness to sacrifice all hope of gain: an indifference to what we can attain, acquire, gain control of or make use of.Mad: instead of accuracy, I'd say we're looking for fidelity.Fidelity requires a faithfulness and willingness to avoid deceit or purposeful misleading; a type of loyalty to one another and to the truth....being a trustworthy partner in some sort of covenantal agreement or contract involving expressed or intended promises. Are you making the case that we should act in fidelity to one another and our shared definition of reason; or that we should remain loyal to reason no matter the impact upon our communal desires?
MadArchitect

1E - BANNED
The Pope of Literature
Posts: 2553
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2004 4:24 am
19
Location: decentralized

Re: High In-Fidelity

Unread post

Dissident Heart: But is consensus building the best way to understand the term?Depends on what you mean by "understand." I'm not looking to build some sort of higher understanding of reason -- that sort of project is way beyond the scope of this thread, and I'm not sure it would be a particularly successful or constructive project for a forum like BookTalk. All I'm talking about is taking a term from the BookTalk mission statement -- a very pivotal term, as it turns out -- and determing what we as a group take from it and mean by it. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "optimal understanding," but I expect that it's a good deal more ambitious than the modest thread needs to be.When seeking consensus, each party must be willing to give something up for the sake of mutual gain.Not necessarily. I think we can come to a consensus on the question of whether or not cats are a kind of animal. Compromise is only a part of consensus if we're in some disagreement over the term about which we're seeking consensus.Think whatever you'd like about the higher meaning and import of reason. What I'm talking about here is the way in which a community understands the terms of its own existence, and that must necessarily be founded on the agreement of the members of the community. If we turn reason into something esoteric, comprehensible only by a select few, then we end up by estranging portions of the community. If you like, you can think of it in terms of reason and Reason. I'm talking about the lower-case variety, which we can take as a term initialized by the BookTalk mission statement and specific to this context. It may coincide, in part or in whole, with whatever form of Reason it is you think we'd be sacraficing by building a consensus, but that isn't something we can determinine until we've decided what we mean by the local term.Fidelity requires a faithfulness and willingness to avoid deceit or purposeful misleading; a type of loyalty to one another and to the truth....being a trustworthy partner in some sort of covenantal agreement or contract involving expressed or intended promises.Actually, I'm just talking about matching. Like that matching card games we used to play as kids. All I'm talking about is making sure that the reason cards in our heads all match.Are you making the case that we should act in fidelity to one another and our shared definition of reason; or that we should remain loyal to reason no matter the impact upon our communal desires? The former.
User avatar
Dissident Heart

1F - BRONZE CONTRIBUTOR
I dumpster dive for books!
Posts: 1790
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2003 11:01 am
20
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 18 times

Re: High In-Fidelity

Unread post

MA: I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "optimal understanding," but I expect that it's a good deal more ambitious than this modest thread needs to be.I suppose it refers to reaching a level of comprehension that is as free of ignorance as possible. Of course, this assumes that ignorance is no friend of reason. Or, maybe ignorance is reason's best friend....the less we know, the more room for reason to really do its work. But, we haven't really decided what that work looks like.It may be that the meaning of reason is something we construct in community; we work together to build an understanding that we can agree upon. Perhaps all meaning is found (rather built) in this way.Or, it may be that reason is defined outside of our social contracts and communal commitments; regardless of our individual or group needs and expectations. Reason is what reason is, no matter our homo habilis heritage for constructing our reality.It may be that we need to work together to understand what reason means: correcting, cajoling, assisting one another to shed our ignorance on the subject. I think this was Socrates' approach...assuming that he had anything worthwhile to say on the matter.MA: If you like, you can think of it in terms of reason and Reason. I'm talking about the lower-case variety...By lower-case reason I suppose you mean a type of practical utilization of a particular configuration of aptitudes to get things done. In the context of Booktalk, the getting things done involves intelligent discussion of books and ideas. Thus, it seems an important part of this thread involves discovering how reason lends itself to intelligent discussions about books and ideas.By higher-case Reason, I am referring to a long tradition of thinkers and the like who have hypothesized, imagined, fantasized, or hoped for some sort of universal, more-than-human Logos that guided the internal logic of existence according to mathematical principles and geometric order...the ordering force of cosmos, as opposed to chaos. Perhaps exploring Reason in this sense is unreasonable for this thread. I don't think we'd be in terribly poor company if we decided it a worthy ambition.
MadArchitect

1E - BANNED
The Pope of Literature
Posts: 2553
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2004 4:24 am
19
Location: decentralized

Re: High In-Fidelity

Unread post

Dissident Heart: By lower-case reason I suppose you mean a type of practical utilization of a particular configuration of aptitudes to get things done.No, by lower case reason I mean reason as it's understood in the specific context of BookTalk as a community predicated on the exercise of reason. And we haven't really defined that just yet. And it doesn't look as though we're going to define it just now.Oh well, it's a topic worth revisiting later on.In the context of Booktalk, the getting things done involves intelligent discussion of books and ideas. Thus, it seems an important part of this thread involves discovering how reason lends itself to intelligent discussions about books and ideas.I think that's a good point, and I hope it'll come up again if others decide to jump in on this discussion later.I don't think we'd be in terribly poor company if we decided it a worthy ambition.Nor do I. It just isn't the ambition I had in starting this thread, and I think turning our attention to that will distract from the benefit to the community that I was hoping to find.
User avatar
Interbane

2B - MOD & SILVER
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 7203
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2004 12:59 am
19
Location: Da U.P.
Has thanked: 1105 times
Been thanked: 2166 times
United States of America

hmm?

Unread post

So long gone...I'd like to expand my thinking here, I've been browsing these forums from time to time, they're the only ones I really come back to. Reasoning is subjective, isn't it? It's a process within the human mind. So it's description can be contained in terms that are fully within those parameters. So the workings of the mind are what we have to work with to define reason? As a starting point, our sensory perception takes raw data from our reality, placing it into our brains. Then, is it information just past the point of perception, up until proclamation, that we're dealing with? The processing of that information within our heads?BTW, hello guys, I've been watching ya'll
User avatar
Chris OConnor

1A - OWNER
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 17002
Joined: Sun May 05, 2002 2:43 pm
21
Location: Florida
Has thanked: 3500 times
Been thanked: 1307 times
Gender:
Contact:
United States of America

Re: hmm?

Unread post

I thought I saw someone lurking in the shadows. Welcome back!
MadArchitect

1E - BANNED
The Pope of Literature
Posts: 2553
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2004 4:24 am
19
Location: decentralized

Re: hmm?

Unread post

Interbane: Reasoning is subjective, isn't it?I don't know? Is it? The Enlightenment seems to have considered Reason to be a human faculty that didn't really change from mind to mind, and a lot of our emphasis on reason these days seems to take that as given, even when our arguments end up contradicting that point. The big question here is, if reason is subjective, then what, ultimately is the point of an appeal to reason? If on person can exercise reason and arrive at a different answer from you, then what do we solve by appealing to reason?As a starting point, our sensory perception takes raw data from our reality, placing it into our brains.It isn't that direct a process. What we work with in our mind is usually a symbol or reference to something from perception; it's rarely, if ever, the referent itself. So even if we assume that reason works on the material produced by sensory perception, unless we can discover some consistent process by which that material is produced, it's still likely that two given people are still working of different sets of material, even when they give it the same name.BTW, hello guys, I've been watching ya'llIt's good to see you back.
Post Reply

Return to “Religion & Philosophy”