Friday, November 1, 2013



A clinical analysis into the working of man’s faculty of reason

In every discussion and writing of modern man, the word ‘reason’ and logic crops-up at least once. Such is the relevance of our mystery faculty called reason !

But the sad fact is that very few of us are aware of what we really mean by reason and logic. The great book like ‘critique of pure reason’ by Immanuel Kant touched only its reaches and limits, but NOT what reason as such is. When a robber and murderer accuses his colleague for leaving a witness of the crime alive, he too use the terms reason and logic; wasn’t it logical to kill the witness and destroy the evidence before leaving the crime scene? There was no ‘reason’ for leaving the witness unharmed ! For a subatomic particle physicist, it is illogical to apply Newton’s mechanics  to track the motion of an electron or any other such particle in his experimental world. The two models of reality are entirely different.

 In the above two examples, the context where reason applied was subjective experience fields of the robber and the scientist. It simply bring-out the fallacy in our general assumption that Reason is some-kind of a UNIVERSAL REFERENCE point applicable to every context of inference ! ( the middle premise in syllogism)

What about the logical content in the absolutely general contexts where previous experience does not have any role, such as algebraic equations like; all a,s are b’s, and all b’s are c’s, therefore all a’s are c’s ?  Or the universal law of causality that insists, every effect necessarily have a cause ?

Whenever mind comes across any context wherein the ‘logical relation’ is to be determined between any seen or already observed fact or object with an unseen, or unobserved fact or object, exclusively on the strength of the explanation and evidence, we use the services of our  faculty of reason to ‘sense’ such 'relation'. Many a times the context comes the way like the law of causality, where there is no reference to the seen or observed to compare with, but the paradigm directly appear demanding the extraction of the ‘sense’, or logic ! Even if there exists no previous analogy ( or  a 'universal premise' to check the 'consistency' with, man finds enabled to sense the ‘logic’ content in the paradigm presented before the mind !


Let us take two examples of such context from history of mankind itself, wherein we had arrived at the inevitable necessity of human FREEDOM from man’s ‘self-evident’ , or ‘universal sense of what is right’. First context is American revolution, and the incident is the drafting of ‘ the bill of rights’.We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights…such as Life, Liberty and pursuit of happiness”.
The second context is the justification for democracy given by historian Thucydides, during Pericles’ funeral address; ‘we are also taught to observe those unwritten laws whose sanction lies only in the universal feeling of what is right’. What is important to note here is reason’s inherent ability to come-out with such universal axioms at times of need. One can not explain such unique features of our faculty of reason without giving them a metaphysical touch. Of course they are not creations of our mind out of past experience. Our new faculty senses such axioms virtually from the blue. This feature of our faculty of reason strongly indicates its inherent role, or probably nature’s own ploy in giving man ultimate moral codes for living better personal life, and devising universal values for ensuring sustainable community lives.

Not only that mind (or more specifically our faculty of reason) is able to detect  or sense the ‘order’ or the ‘sense’ content, but it is able to sense the ‘disorder’ factor, or the ‘non-sensible, or the ‘inadequacy of sense’ factor also of the paradigms. For example, modern science, even after gaining reasonable knowledge on all the four known forms of energy, it is certain that it lacks a ‘unified theory’ of all energy forms ! One of the greatest hope of modern science is that it would be able to lay hand on such a unified theory in the near future ! What is that helps man to ‘sense’ such adequacy and inadequacy of reason/sense/order/consistency/unity factor in the paradigms presented before mind ? Won't it straight away points towards mind’s inherent ability to sense order as well disorder in existence as well as in routine life situations ?  

Modern world attribute this capacity of mind to our faculty of reason. But how does this faculty actually work ? Though in most of the cases, mind extracts a relation from its past experience or learning, and apply it in the current context and validate the conclusion. But in many other cases, mind is required to ascertain the validity of conclusion from abstract evidences or arguments presented before it. Or in many other cases, it is even without any argument or evidence but a direct appeal to our sense of reason, like in the case of the law of causality, the algebraic equations, and the finding of inevitable social values such as human liberty and freedom as exemplified above in the cases of American Bill of rights, and Pericles’ funeral address on democracy by historian Thucydides.  

From whatever we have discussed above, one thing comes out very clear that,  what mind, or more specifically our faculty of reason does is the job of ‘sensing’ the logical factor, or the ‘sense’/order/consistency/unity factor that exists between the seen and the observed with that of the unseen and unobserved, or the evidences and arguments and their respective conclusions, analogy and its object of comparison, and finally the direct paradigms that demand the faculty to ‘sense’ the ‘order’ factor out of the blue.

Upon close analysis, it comes out that, the role of our faculty of reason is that of a typical sense organ; if the eyes and ears senses certain external categories of the world, this inner faculty ‘senses’ the mystery ‘relation’ that unites the two, or even the single paradigm, that appeal to the said faculty. This is similar to a colour shade-card presented before the eyes, demanding matching of a certain shade that best matches the sample in the hand, or the task of tea or wine taster engaged in the act of matching a certain sample quality with the bench-mark tastes already available in the stock. Often these professional tasters could be asked to assess the quality of an altogether new flavor also, out from the blue !

Kant had shown to the world that what our external sense organs provide us are not the reality in itself, but a certain phenomena destined by nature, to give us Her chosen experience of life. He claimed that when the unrelated sense experiences are received by the mind, it is the structural design of our faculty of reason is what CATEGORIZES them into various preset knowledge forms. But what we have seen above is a different role of reason. It acts in the role of another internal sense organ, that senses the ‘order/unity/consistency factor between what the external sense organs supplies to the mind ! There are no fixed categories. Instead, it is the abode of sensing, or detecting another existential category, or quality: ie. ‘order, or unity/consistency/unity factor of what is presented before it by the mind.

Descartes preferred to call this faculty ‘ understanding’, while Bergson, Einstein, and even Bertrand Russell* preferred to call this faculty ‘INTUITION’. While ‘intuition’ is a not yet a well probed faculty of mind, it is better for us to attribute this faculty to our faculty of reason itself, as it is found to be the abode of mystery relations that it helps us to sense, and apply to our multitudes of day to day experience paradigms.

What is most important here is to state the fundamental difference between Logic and Reason here; while Logic is about the 'technicalities' of fixing consistency with the 'universal premise' in the syllogism,Reason is about fixing consistency with the content 'principle', or even coming-out with new a new universal, or an axiom, or a new set of evidence to transform, lead the subject-matter into a new realm of reality.

The two distinct functions of the faculty of reason

Hope we have now learned to look at our faculty of Reason with an entirely different eye; from its unexplained earlier role, into a very specific and sensible role, as an internal sense organ, with a very specific role in every act of deduction and induction, that of sensing/detecting the logical relation between the known with proposed unknown.

Now let us identify the not yet known and recognized role of reason in the very act of analytical thinking. Whenever we engage the mind into an analytical mode, ie. to ponder over any issue of day to day life, or into a given scientific or philosophical project, have we ever watched how does mind work on them ? The moment we feed the ray of thought into the mind, and attain the required level of concentration, it is the mind itself that split the given issue or ray of thought into all its possible constituent sub-issues or possibilities, and present a new SPECTRUM before us ! The issue, or the given ray of thought now stands split, like the ray of white light gets split into a spectrum !

When all the possibilities, extensions and options are before the mind, and in many such cases, the new spectrum often reveals new evidences that question our old stand, or conclusion ! Here a new deduction could take place, and also a new conclusion. New hypotheses emerge in this process, and new experiment begins in-order to qualify the newly found propositions as theories. This is a non-stop natural process of the ‘Prismatic’ mode of our faculty of reason. . This function is the most creative function of human mind. Charles Sanders Pierce was very specific about the source of landing of ‘hypotheses’ in the mind: He said it was always from source ‘up-above’, ie, from un-explained sources in existence.  


The metaphysical elements of our faculty of reason

If we truly open up our mind and look at how do we get the unique experience of life, the central role of our external sense organs will come to surface. There could  be several other categories of existence other than sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. It is quite possible that man has been bestowed to live with only limited number of these existential categories/qualities, that enter into his mind through the respective sense organs, to give him his pre-set experience of life. The limited range of our sense organs, such as the limited distance and size of objects of our eyes, the limited hearing range of our ears ( we can not hear audio-signals below certain decibels and wave length) are also can be evidence to what has been claimed above. Suppose we could hear even ultrasonic range of audio-signals. In that case our kind of normal live would have been impossible for us to live ! Or an eye that could see microbes of every size and variety ! Life would not have been on the lines that we live it today with such a range of vision.  

Therefore, it is ‘sensible’ to conclude that we have been put into a very specially chosen ‘experience bubble’, to undergo a very specific life experience in the world.  

Now we have seen at the beginning of this short-write up that our faculty of reason is also helps us to ‘sense’ yet another ‘category’ or quality of existence, ie. the mystery ‘relation’  or unity/order between what is just in-front of our external sense organs, with those are not in their direct range of perception. We have to arrive at such indirect knowledge through deduction or induction process, a process wherein we absolutely depend upon our mystery sense organ of reason for the act. Hence, ‘logical relation’ or order/unity/consistency is also to be treated as yet another necessary category or quality of existence in line with such other categories that our eyes and ears provide us. One exception is  that the latter complements what all other external sense organs give us in the true experience of life ! Sense of reason is what gives us ‘proper sense’ to the world that ( the world) primarily enters our mind through the external sense organs. 

In a way, what each sense organ provides us is ‘intuitions’ in a certain sense: as we are too familiar with what our eyes, ears and nose provide , its intuitive nature is not realized by us. AS the new category of ‘order’, ‘unity’ or ‘sense’ factor is altogether new to us, we tend to look at it as ‘intuitive’. That is the only difference. We in fact are passive recipients of what these various sense organs ‘sense’, or gather from the external world, and give us our experience of life. It is the familiarity factor that makes the difference.

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Ps: The above proposition and idea is completely explained at our self-published e-book at Amazon.com, details at link : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008NOEE9I    

Also see the bit lengthy paper posted just after this post down.     
                                                              
The intention of the author is to convey the actual role and function of man’s faculty of Reason to the scholastic world by this or that paper/book. He realizes the difficulty of minds that are trained to look at faculty of reason in an altogether different light from time immemorial. But time is a magician, hence old concepts of knowledge are supposed to alter altogether periodically. There was virtually no attempt to understand what is ‘reason’ from the Greek masters’ time. Hope my humble attempt would at least trigger a lot of new interest for research into this important field.

Abraham J.Palakudy ( Author)
E.Mails: ajoseph1@rediffmail.com, and conscienceofthesociety@hotmail.com 


Note: * Bertrand Russell, one of the greatest minds of modern age, who could also be considered an authority on matters regarding science of logic, had detailed the above referred un-solved problems of modern logic, in his ‘second lecture at Cambridge’ (1914) viz. ‘ Logic as the essence of philosophy’. This is a problem around logic’s main purpose of arguing on the basis of ‘observed facts’ to prove some ‘un-observed facts’. He admits that this could be “ done only by means of some known ‘relation’ of the observed and the un-observed”  ( page 291, essays in Philosophy, Russell, Edited by Houston Peterson- Washington Square Press, New York-1974)

“ but the un-observed, by definition, is not known empirically, and therefore its relation to the observed, if known at all, must be known independently of empirical evidence

After listing Mills remedies to solve the above problem one by one, Russell proves them all inadequate and fallacious. He concludes: (page 293) “Thus logical knowledge is not derivable from experience alone, and the empiricist’s philosophy can therefore NOT be accepted in its entirety” .

“ We must therefore admit that there is general knowledge NOT derived from sense, and that some of this knowledge is not obtained by inference but is PRIMITIVE” (page 309)

When Reason is understood and recognized as an internal sense organ, the source of such MYSTIQUE knowledge in logical exercise referred by Russell could be explained and solved permanently. That ‘ general knowledge NOT derived from the senses’ whose source who called ‘PRIMITIVE’  is in fact provided by the ‘sense organ of reason’. It is the much required sense of ‘order’, or UNITY provided by our sense organ of reason, that exist between every cause and effect, every instance of inferring a conclusion from a set of evidences or arguments, and every analogy and its object of comparison. This is what fills-up the gap that Russell had named as coming from ‘non-empirical, primitive’ sources !

Though Russell had later clarified that the source of such 'primitive' knowledge is 'intuition', at closer look we would realize that whatever we call as 'intuition' is nothing but the work of our mysterious ' faculty' of reason. 






         


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