Why do we use reason. | INFJ Forum

Why do we use reason.

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by wolly.green, Sep 21, 2018.

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  1. wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    Reason: The practice of subjecting our best explanations to intense cycles of conjecture and criticism.

    Why do we use reason and not, say, feelings to distinguish truth from fiction? My guess is that reason is the only thing that has worked in the past, so we continue to use it today. I particularly want to know what you think @Ren and @charlatan
     
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  2. Pin

    Pin "Magnificent Bastard" / Ren's Counterpart

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    Kant had a few things to say on this.

    [​IMG]
     
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    #2 Pin, Sep 21, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
  3. Sandie33

    Sandie33 Love Often & Absolutely ♡
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    To chime in, some of us do use feelings, (filtered through heart, head, mind, intuition, gut, in that order of processing), to distinguish truth from fiction. Personally, I'm INFJ, and though I use logic in tandem with feeling, for me if it does not feel correct than it is incorrect and fiction until proven otherwise. This applies to my own truth. When dealing with and interpreting another's truth it is often accepted as such, the other's truth, therefore, it simply is ineffectual for me.
     
  4. Reason

    Reason Okay, 3 2 1 Let's jam

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    Y... You've all been using me all this time? :m035:
     
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  5. Aneirin

    Aneirin wandering aimlessly
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    Feelings...for me anyway are the filter of truth. My inner self knows somehow what is and what is not in large part by how it feels to me. I have found over many years that I am seldom wrong.
     
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  6. John K

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    I'm presuming the scope of your question is the great issues of philosophy, science and mathematics, rather than more everyday truths such as "am I hungry" or "has my pay gone into the bank yet".

    I don't know what the philosophical professionals have to say, but it seems to me that the Holy Graal is
    • the repeatability of the process that leads from a starting point to an exact same conclusion, and
    • the concurrence of all participants that the process from start to finish is valid.
    If we got a different answer every time you applied Pythagoras's Theorem to a right-angled triangle, we'd have no major civilisations. If the laws of elecromagnetism produced different answers every time they were applied, we'd have no electricity in our homes, etc. And it has to work that way whoever applies the rules of course, wherever and whenever. Most truths are softer and kinder that the mathematical ones but the extreme nature and practical utility of maths really spotlights why rational thinking is so important.

    I don't think this is the only part of the story though, and it may not even be the most important part. Any process of rational thinking leading to a set of conclusions has to start somewhere - initial assumptions (or axioms in maths). It seems to me that there can be no rational thought process that generates the initial assumptions, because they would then not be initial assumptions, but in their turn rationally derived from something more basic which isn't rationally derived - and those would be the initial assumptions instead. The initial assumptions may come from observation, and/or from insight - these are perceptions not analytical judgements, and the whole edifice of subsequent reasoning (and the truth of its conclusions) is critically dependent on them. My own intuition tells me that these initial assumptions are the foundation from which truth is discerned, and are just as important, or maybe even more so, than the conclusions derived from them using reasoning processes. So establishing truth to my mind depends on all the functions, both perceptual and judgemental, not just the rational ones.


     
  7. John K

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    Yes - I stuggled with this issue which is why I tried to limit the scope of the answer I just made based on @wolly.green 's appeal to two of our well known forum philosophers! In several books I've read, feeling judgement is described as a rational, though not logical, process and it seems to me that some truths can only be approached using this, together with related emotions, rather than through logic. Maybe Mr Spock would use logic to determine if his girlfriend loved him, wanted to make a life together, and if it was likely to work out, but I can't see humans getting at the truth very well that way. And this is just as big a truth to uncover for us individually as the meaning of life the universe and everything may be for humanity as a whole.
     
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  8. Sandie33

    Sandie33 Love Often & Absolutely ♡
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    Well said @John K :) This feelings-based reasoning used to cause me issue as well until I learned more about it.

    The stigmatism aka stereotyping of a feeler in a linear/ sensing physical world is a rough and uphill path. Trying to verbalize "I just know because I feel it" in a prove-it-to-me world is a challenge indeed. :D
     
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  9. Ren

    Ren Pin's android and co-founder of Stoic Café

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    Hi wolly, good thread :)

    I don't think reason and feelings are necessarily opposed when it comes to distinguishing truth from fiction. It's possible to see them as complementary. There are certain realms of truth where feeling is probably more competent than (or at least as competent as) reason, romantic love being one of them. When we are looking for explanations regarding an intimate situation, "subjecting our best explanations to intense cycles of conjecture and criticism" might not be the best way to go. It may in fact lead us astray. So I guess an important question is: what kind of explanation are we looking at? In relation to what domain?

    If we distinguish, say, the objective domain from the subjective domain, I would say that reason is preferred to feeling in the objective domain because, just like you said, "it has worked in the past". It allows a certain amount of control over the objective domain by making it more predictable. Feelings don't allow the modelling of the objective domain in that way, such that it can become more predictable, more uncovered, more "mastered" and controlled, ultimately. Reason, as can be seen in the advance of technology, works way better for those purposes. In fact, it is the only thing that works. I think that's primarily why we prefer it in that case.
     
  10. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    I think that one interesting fact about feelings, which some have tried to put in the realm of 'experience' (as opposed to reason, according to them) is that they can receive strong input from reason and be changed as a result. This may be possible with other sense data, but it seems, assuming our health is good and all that, like a chair more or less looks like a chair, no matter how much we learn about quantum mechanics or string theory or what have you, whereas our feelings in response to the same data can change depending on our perceived understanding of it. For instance, if we see someone's apparently bad behavior was caused by a mental condition, not by their reflected/reasoned attitude in a state of good health.

    In this sense, I tend to view the use of feelings as pretty continuous with the use of reason, when used appropriately: that is, I think feelings *should* be subject to criticism and so on.
    It is possible there are some relatively primitive feelings (like my feelings about vomit-flavored ice cream) that won't budge much under further criticism/reflection, but that's roughly akin to the sense data of the chair not changing much -- we don't need it to change for our understanding of how it fits into reality to deepen.
    Our more complex feelings seem to be subject to revision.

    I think the sense in which feelings can be seen opposed to reason is through more pragmatic philosophies that are deflationary about truth, which may view theories as either accepted or rejected, not true or false. I don't ultimately go with those, and from my feelings-continuous-with-reason perspective, it's clear why we use reason: there's no other option!

    To unpack that a little more, an option besides reason is one which tends to take some brute premise as unquestionable.
    I think the weakness of this is two things -- a) it's unlivable, because from moment to moment, we cannot even assume a coherent identity without assuming some sort of consistency. b) if something can fall to criticism, it seems that as long as one views criticism/conjecture as at worst neutral, good riddance to the fallen thing. I don't think one can argue for lack of coherency with much strength, so the only force to b) is that humans themselves, when they reason, are somehow incapable of doing solid coherency checks --- this is the familiar argument given by a conservative anti-reason religious old-timer in favor of tradition that is God-given. I never saw any weight to this, because it seems to me being a flawed being is just as likely to result in adopting the wrong first-premises (the ones that should not be questioned) as it is to result in abandoning such premises based on a faulty coherence check.
     
    #10 charlatan, Sep 23, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
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  11. Hostarius

    Hostarius Scooby Doo Villain of Fate

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    I thought about this question for a long time, and my default response is something along the lines of...

    'Truth' and 'reason' have such a fundamental relationship to one another that it barely makes sense to talk about 'alternative methods of determining truth from fiction'. You may as well ask, 'Why do we use gravity to stay rooted to the ground, and not, say, pictures of kittens?'

    This kind of conjecture has been tried before - you might find some interest in the work of the Neo-Kantians at the turn of the 20th century, where there was a lot of work going on to try to establish the' human sciences' as separate and distinct from the natural sciences, with their own rules if proof, &c.

    However, I return to my point. Ultimately, I think that any method of perceiving truth from fiction is ultimately based upon done kind of 'reason'.

    Consider 'feelings'. The rational computation of 'feelings' is still being done, just at a molecular (in the case of hormones, &c.) rather than conscious level. The rational rules - or axioms - which underpin the efficacy of 'feelings' have been settled and conditioned by millions of years of evolution. The 'cycles of criticism' have been done in terms of survival - or not, to result in the 'feelings' we experience, which are kinds of heuristics based upon millions of years of testing.

    Even 'direct perception of truth' using the senses is based upon this kind of 'reason', so in that sense I am like to conclude that 'reason' as a method of discerning truth from fiction is, in reality, the only one.

    Everything else is just a heuristic ultimately founded upon some process of reason; and yes, that means therefore that I am claiming that evolution by natural selection is a 'process of reason'.
     
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  12. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    If I know wolly, he'd say generally (or always) those initial assumptions are subject to the same conjecture/criticism as mentioned in the OP, and that this might distinguish reason from, say, logic, which does need to start somewhere (i.e. start with certain axioms and go from there). Just mentioning this, because it may be a slightly more idiosyncratic notion of reason than you were thinking -- wolly is a Popperian!

    Now, my own thought on this is that it's easy to see the motivation of criticism of axioms for, say, empirical investigation -- where the external world seems to hand us new data which may upset our foundations.
    However, what about for, say, a more purely logical pursuit? I think here, there is some truth to being democratic about axioms (ie if we want, we can start with any given set of axioms). However, if we are intelligent beings, it is unlikely we set a collection of axioms in place randomly. We probably had a sense of what they may be for, and thus we may criticize the axioms as deeper or shallower.
     
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  13. OP
    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    I agree that natural selection is a 'process of reason'. I think evolution, correctly understood, answers the question "where did the knowledge to build complex living organisms come from." So yes, 100 percent agree.

    But if natural selection is a process of reason, it follows that "feelings" are a kind of knowledge that can be criticized and refuted. Not necessarily with our process of reason. But a process that we are yet to discover. Do you follow?
     
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  14. OP
    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    Yes! You know me well! Are you implying that there are other "systems of reason" that we have not yet discovered?
     
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  15. Truth Eternity

    Truth Eternity Regular Poster

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    I believe since reason comes from our own projection, that it is ultimately biased and limiting. What we describe can only be within the limits of humanity, so our what we describe is subjective to ourselves. Not only is it limited by our capability no to understand, but it is further limited by our language. What we call a "tree" is only a tree to us -- what it is to itself and others is all different. What it really is dives into the concept of "truth" and the questions of what is truth and our we capable of understanding it, which circles back to being reliant upon reason and reason being reliant upon truth. My explanation and my failure to understand and answer those questions is showing of how language and our understanding limits our reason, and in turn how reason limits our language and understanding.
     
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