Reason in Balance
Reason is the human capacity to make sense of things around us. Using logic, reason considers facts, beliefs, practices and physical stimuli before arriving at a sound conclusion. It is commonly associated with intellect, thinking and cognition. It’s what allows our thought processes to go from one idea to another. It helps us differentiate between what’s true and what’s false, as well as what’s good and what’s bad. It also helps us understand the relationship of cause and effect.
Reason gives us the ability and freedom to understand things in various ways and perspectives, enabling us to possibly change our ideas or beliefs. The way we reason is deeply affected by a lot of factors, such as the cultural group we grew up in, our religious or spiritual beliefs, our education, as well as the past experiences we have had.
In classical philosophy, reason was more important than other human characteristics, giving humans an edge over the rest of the animals. Later, philosophers and scientists started exploring reason and came to different conclusions. Jurgen Habermas, taking Kant’s three critiques model, said that reason can be divided into three spheres: cognitive-instrumental reason, referring to the reason used in sciences; moral-practical reason that is used to deal with subjects in the moral and political areas; and aesthetic reason that can be found in works of art, as a new way of looking at the world and a new form of interpretation of things.
Regardless of what specific sphere it is in, reason works in ways very similar to imagination. Both abilities gather previous perceptions of different things, all acquired through past physical experiences with the world around, and arrive at something different or something new altogether. While imagination can fly away into a completely new world, reason works with the hard facts and arrives at new conclusions using a concrete basis.
Reasoning, as a logical method, has been used as a thinking logic. It is divided into various areas: deductive reasoning, wherein a conclusion can be drawn from a few established premises; inductive reasoning, wherein something can be inferred based on previous observation; abductive reasoning, which holds no certainty but follows the best explanation for something; analogical reasoning, an incorrect form of reasoning going from one particular concept to another; and fallacious reasoning, which is, simply put, bad reasoning.
Sometimes, we may find ourselves stuck in stagnant decision-making. Although our intellect might tell us that a particular path is the one we should take, our emotions tend to get in the way and try to send us down an entirely different path. Intellect and emotion are experts at going against what we think or believe to be the correct solution to a problem. Add culture, faith, and tradition to emotion and that’s the perfect recipe to further wreak havoc in our indecisive minds. This is where reason steps in. When we are faced with a dilemma, reason pushes us to think things over more seriously and weigh the possible outcome and consequences before choosing a final solution.