Wednesday, March 25, 2015

On Reason

Dear reader,

I was having an interesting conversation with someone who asserted that the idea of faith was ridiculous and that reason was the only rational foundation for a worldview. Being a pagan and thus believing, on faith, in powers greater than myself I asserted the opposite and I thought I'd share my thoughts with you all.

One might assert that faith is a ridiculous concept but before that one must examine the question of basic assumptions. To have any sort of sense-based reason one must have faith that ones rationality and the evidence of ones senses are accurate and useful. So in a sense (heh) without faith in ones own rationality one couldn't have reason. One could certainly assert if we don't believe in what others have usefully termed scientific materialism (the rational building of a reasoned worldview on the basis of what one's senses tell them) one must then embrace solipsism (the belief that only one's mind is sure to exist and everything outside could be an illusion) or even nihilism (the idea that nothing at all exists) but these extremes are not really the what I had in mind. This is an old trap of dualism in which people in our culture tend to get caught i.e. "If it isn't one thing then it must be the polar opposite and since I find the polar opposite ridiculous then what I believe must be true". Fundamentally, at the basis of any assertion one makes, there must be a basic assumption that can (and for a true rational thinker should) be questioned but there are more options than polar opposite extremes to examine, some may fall on a continuum between the two and some may even go in a completely different direction. A more useful direction to take this line of reasoning is that since ons rationality is based on the evidences of ones senses and everyone's perception of reality is slightly different since everyone's brain is slightly different then the reality one inhabits may not be the reality others inhabit. This is complicated by the ways that nurture aka enculturation change our perceptions of reality by adding or subtracting value and meaning to/from experiences and even this is further complicated by those of us who question our own enculturation and ask hard questions about what we believe about reality. The extremes of solipsism/nihilism and scientific materialism are not the only useful outcomes of questioning the basic assumption of trusting our senses. One could for example embrace a sort of metaphysical pluralism or any other shade in between those extremes some of which may include faith in forces that our senses cannot comprehend, or even something completely different. Ultimately my point is one cannot and should not try to force one's own belief on others because the reality they inhabit may be vastly different from yours! Heh I love metaphysics.

Feel free to comment or argue with me I love debate! It is the way we hone our own beliefs and learn from what others believe. Until we meet again,

Yours, in service to the Morrigan

Achija Branvin Sionnach


  1. I can't claim to be any kind of philosopher or theologian, but I tend to view reason (and here I mean the post-Enlightenment era manifestation of reason, rather than the rhetorical device of Ancient Greece) as a very useful tool in the investigative toolkit of human beings. I absolutely feel that the use of reason (and its rather serious-minded sibling, logic) helps us to understand the world around us, particularly when we're trying to understand repeatable, sensory-oriented patterns (so I very much jive with your senses points above).

    I don't think that it's the sole tool in the box, though. I also think that imagination, intuition, ecstasy, desire, synthesis, comparison, and about two dozen other tools can fit into that kit comfortably. So I take your point about inhabiting different realities (or at least people using a variety of tools to comprehend their shared realities).

    Interesting reading! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Good points Cory! I like your toolbox analogy btw, I may see where I can run with it in the future ^_^