There are no guarantees in life, but some things are certain. There is no guarantee if you drink water you will not die but it is certain if you don't drink water you will die of thirst. There is no guarantee if you eat you will never be sick but it is certain if you don't eat the right things you will be sick and if you do not eat at all you will starve to death. There is no guarantee that if you use reason correctly you'll never make a mistake or fail but it is certain if you do not reason correctly you will never make a right choice or succeed.|
Knowledge And Reason
Knowledge and reason cannot be separated, because knowledge is all there is to think with or about, and reason is the only means to acquiring knowledge.
It is not possible for human beings to live without knowledge. But knowledge is not possible to acquire or use without reason. Reason is the only means of forming the concepts that are the basis of all knowledge and of judging what is truly knowledge.
In this day and age almost every institution and ideology has become the enemy of knowledge. Three major sources of the attacks on knowledge today were addressed in the article: "Deceitful Trinity—Religion, Philosophy, and Pseudo-science." The most insidious attack on knowledge is the incessant attack on the only means to knowledge, reason.
Those who hate knowledge understand implicitly, if not explicitly, if reason can be repudiated or undermined by, "critical theory," or so-called, "critical thinking," knowledge itself can be denied as impossible. If those methods do not work, knowledge haters will attack reason itself.
Those who repudiate reason intentionally denigrate the faculty of rationality itself as either flawed or deficient in its ability to achieve true knowledge. If the denigrators were right, no knowledge would be possible, because human beings have no other faculty to identify what exists and discover its nature then the rational faculty.
Those who repudiate reason are not interested in the truth, their primary purpose is to promote some ideology or put over some agenda that cannot possibly be defended on rational grounds, that is, by means of non-contradictory reason based on evidence available to any intelligent individual. If one can put over the lie that the reality one directly perceives and one's own conscious perception of it is not all there is, and that one's own conscious mind is not the only means by which one can know that reality, just anything can be put over.
Haters' Denigration Of Reason
If you doubt that reason is hated or that there are actually individuals who intentionally denigrate reason, the following are actual quotes from individuals who believe they are saying something profound, even virtuous. The individuals are not intentionally evil. It is a kind ignorance of what reason, knowledge, and reality are. They are not even aware of how evil these ideas are, and that their ideas allow every truly evil and bad idea in history to be put over.
You will notice, reason is not repudiated directly, but accused of being of no value against ignorance and as much a source of evil as ignorance and irrationality. Behind it all is the unstated objective of putting something else in the place of reason, like faith or intuition.
To steal, when one can get away with it, is extremely rational as a way of getting what one wants.
Stealing, cheating, bullying, deceiving, maligning and backstabing, can all be, "rational," ways of dealing with others, ... what's irrational about any of it? In many cases, it's a damn sight easier to kill & take instead of transacting & trade.|
Some evil is irrational; but there are also many rational incentives for being evil.
The following example is based on an intentional misrepresentation of what reason is:
Reason only supplies the connection between what you want and how to get there. Reason can tell you that a revolution will serve your purposes most expeditiously, so that becomes the "rational" solution. It can't tell you you "shouldn't" want to be a Russian Tyrant.
This example was provided:
Reason cannot tell you whether or not those premises are true.
- All women are evil.
- And all evil things should be killed.
It seems perfectly rational, ... to cull the population of genetic defects, the unruly, and impose sweeping conformity on the rest.
Quite rational to make euthanasia mandatory for folks who can't or won't produce.
Quite rational to institute breedin' programs,
That whole abomination was justified with the absurd statement: "if man is just a smart ape."
[NOTE: The significance of the, "smart ape," reference may not be obvious. It is meant to imply, if man only evolved and was not created by God, reason is defective in some way. What it means is, if you don't believe in some kind of deity, there is no reason to choose one way of living over another. It escapes such individuals that however one came to be, living that leads to ones self-destruction and living that leads to one's life and success will be the same and that reason is the only faculty human beings have for discovering which way of life is which.]
As I say: one can reason out tyranny is permissible, slavery is permissible; the absolute subjugation of human beings can be exceedingly rational.|
Haters of reason are haters of knowledge who repudiate reason as a means of repudiating knowledge. Reason is the only means to knowledge. If one can convince other that reason is inadequate or unable to achieve true knowledge, they can substitute any outrageous nonsense, such as, "Intuition," to put over any agenda or ideology.
The Rational Faculty
The human mind is the unique aspect of human consciousness that distinguishes human beings from all other organisms, and determines the requirements of their nature. Human beings cannot live without knowledge or reason which are fundamental requirements of human life, as much as food and water are to all biological life.
The attack on reason is like an attack on the wings of all flying creatures, or an attack on the legs of all walking and running animals, or an attack on the gills of all fish. Wings, legs, and gills are attributes of those organisms that have them that are their means of existing, just as the human capacity to reason is their means of existing.
The attacks on reason and knowledge are attacks on human nature itself, crippling any human being who falls for those attacks as thoroughly as intentionally damaging a bird's wings, or a leopard's legs, or a fish's gills would cripple them.
The ability to reason is called the rational faculty and is as essential to human life as the heart, lungs, and stomach.
What Is Reasoning
Reasoning is thinking. Whenever a human being consciously uses language, whether overtly writing or speaking, or silently reading or thinking, it is reasoning. Whatever other conscious experiences one has, feelings, imagination, and day-dreams, for example, are not thinking. Thinking and reason only pertain to the intentional conscious use of language to do such things as, asking and answering question, identifying things, their attributes, behavior, and relationships, and making judgments.
Thinking requires knowledge. The whole purpose of knowledge is to make thinking possible, and the whole purpose of thinking is to make conscious (volitional) choice possible. The animals do not require knowledge, because they do not have to consciously choose their behavior. Instinct provides them with automatic behavior both from their own (internal naturally driven behavior) and their response to their environment.
Nothing in human nature provides their behavior. They must discover and recognize both their internal needs and desires and what will satisfy them and what the external things they perceive are, what their nature is, and what relationship those entities have to their own motivation.
No animal has to answer the question, "what is this feeling and what does it mean," or, "what is that thing and how does it relate to me?" Nor are the animals equipped to form or answer such questions, because it is only by means of concepts such questions can be asked or answered.
Concepts make it possible to hold in consciousness the awareness of things even when they are not directly available to be perceived. Only human beings can consciously consider what they experienced yesterday or this morning or what one might do later in the day, tomorrow, next week, or next year. It is, in fact, absolutely necessary to be able to consider such things for a human being to live.
The Rational Faculty
It is the volitional nature that makes knowledge and reason necessary and possible to human life. Human beings must consciously choose everything they do, but no choice is possible without knowing what choices are possible and what the consequences of any choice will be, and no choice is possible without being able to judge, which choice will result in achieving desired consequences and avoid undesired consequences.
Like any other human faculty, the ability to think, reason, and choose can be, and often is, misused. When any faculty, like eating, is misused and the wrong things are consumed, the consequences are damage to one's physical health. When the faculty of reason is misused the result is ignorance, superstition, and wrong values resulting in damage to one's psychological health.
Just as one must learn how their physical faculties function, what they require, and how to use them correctly and not to their own harm, one must learn how their rational faculty functions, what it requires, and how to use it correctly and not to their own detriment.
Rational Means Using Correct Reason
The repudiation of reason almost always begins with some misrepresentation of what correct reason is. Correct reason is determined just as the correct use of any other faculty is, by identifying how it functions, what it requires, and how it must be used.
The rational faculty is the ability and necessity to consciously use language to think: to identify things (as concepts) in terms of their attributes, relationships, and behavior, to make comparisons to find similarities and differences, to ask and answer questions, and to make judgments. Rational means using the faculty of reason to think correctly. Irrational means using the faculty of reason to think incorrectly,
The requirement of all reason is knowledge, because knowledge is all there is to think about (one cannot think about what one has no knowledge of) or to think with (one cannot think any about anything they have no knowledge about). It is what correct thinking is and how it must be performed that is most important to understand.
The Fundamentals Of Correct Reason
Since all reasoning is using knowledge to think and make judgment, correct reason is only possible if what one, "knows," is truly knowledge. What knowledge is would require an entire epistemology to describe. Here we'll emphasize what true knowledge is.
[NOTE: A full explanation of knowledge is provided in the following articles: "Epistemology, Concepts]," and, "Epistemology, Propositions."]
Only knowledge based on actual evidence available to anyone to observe or study is true knowledge. Evidence may be anything that is directly perceived (seen, heard, smelled, tasted, felt, or experienced internally as interoception), anything that can be observed indirectly with instruments (telescopes, microscopes, oscilloscopes or other mechanical or electrical devices), or deduced by reason from such direct evidence (e.g. science), as well as one's own conscious perception and identification of that evidence (i.e. one's own mind).
Nothing else is knowledge. Nothing based solely on what anyone else claims or teaches, no matter how much authority or expertise they are supposed to have, is knowledge, it is gullibility. Nothing based solely on one's feelings, fears, desires, sentiments, impressions, or any experience for which there is no identifiable cause, such as those things called "inspiration," "revelation," "instinct," "mystic insight," "a priori," "hunches," "divination," "faith," or, "gut feelings," are knowledge, they are superstition. Nothing based on what is popularly accepted, consensus, what most people believe, tradition, or the culturally accepted is knowledge, it is prejudice and credulity.
Knowledge Based Reason
Correct reason is knowledge based reason and has many of the same characteristics as true knowledge. Correct reason must be based on evidence uninfluenced by any of the deceptive sources like gullibility, superstition, or credulity. Any reasoning based on or influenced by anything other than objective evidence, like feelings, intuition, or authority, is irrational.
One difference between knowledge and reason is, in reasoning evidence is not the immediately perceived, but knowledge of what is perceived. The basic evidence for knowledge is the directly perceived and the fact of our conscious perception. The basic, "evidence," of reason, is our knowledge that there is existence and that we are conscious of it. That knowledge is the basis of all reason and may be called the ultimate premise or foundation of all other reasoning.
There is existence and I am consciously aware of it. My immediate awareness of existence is consciousness. That which I am immediately aware of is existence. All knowledge is knowledge of the existence I am conscious of and my consciousness of it.
What Is A Premise
Premises are the knowledge by which and about which one reasons or thinks. Knowledge is all there is to think about and all there is to think with. Anything other than objective knowledge is a wrong premise.
A premise is not an assumption. One of the greatest lies of philosophy is that a premise is just an assumption. But an assumption is just a guess, or hypothesis, often based on nothing more than, "feelings," or, "desires," or, "fears," or, "consensus, (what everyone else, or most people, believe) "what someone else says, like some supposed authority or expert," or anything called, "intuition." All such things are always deceptions and never sources of knowledge and any attempt to use them as a premise is irrational.
Because the premise of any reasoning must be knowledge, like knowledge itself, only premises based on actual evidence available to anyone to observe or study is a correct premise. Perhaps the biggest lie told by those who hate reason is that reason cannot tell what premises are correct.
This is so breathtakingly wrong, one hardly knows what one who says such a thing even means. A correct premise is knowledge. Anything other than knowledge is not a correct premise. In most cases, premises are simple and obvious. Most premises are implied, which does not mean unspecified, only not explicitly stated. If I'm looking for the cat, and I know the cat likes to get into the closet, I might look there first, on the basis of the unstate, "premise," which I know, "the cat is often in the closet."
There is no great mystery to reason except to those who want to intentionally obfuscate what thinking is. One of the chief ways today is the intentional confusion between reason and logic.
Reason Does Not Mean Logic
The haters of reason intentionally substitute the concept of, "logic," for reason. But logic is not reason.
Logic, like mathematics, is a rational method. Unlike mathematics, however, logic does not actually achieve any knowledge or insight to anything. It's only value is to verify that one's reasoning does not result in error. While mathematics can actually be used to draw valid conclusions that are knowledge about aspects of existence, logic can only reach conclusions about whether or not one's reasoning has avoided fallacies or contradictions, but cannot reach any conclusion on its own about existence. Logic can only assure that one's reasoning is valid. The kind of reasoning that results in knowledge requires reasoning from objective evidence that results in the identification of actual existents and their attributes, relationships, and behavior.
By substituting logic for reason, the reason haters repudiate reason by pointing out that all logic depends on premises, but Logic, itself, cannot determine the premises, because only reason from objective evidence (knowledge) can provide valid premises.
Reason does not begin with a premise. Reason begins with evidence, which when identified is knowledge. Logic is not reasoning or thinking, logic is only a formal method of checking reasoning and thinking. Logic assumes evidence based knowledge and any so-called logic that does not refer to actual evidence based knowledge is invalid.
Not Syllogistic Logic
The only principles correct reason must conform to are: 1. the absolute necessity of evidence as the foundation of all correct reasoning and, 2. never allowing any contradiction. While a syllogism can be used to test some reasoning to ensure there are no contradictions, syllogistic logic alone cannot fulfill the requirements of reason. The taxonomic organization of knowledge, for example, cannot be put into syllogistic form. Reasoning about transition relationships (A is left of B, B is left of C, C is left of D, therefore A is left of D), or order relationships (three left turns make a right turn), cannot be put into syllogistic form. [If the last confuses you, on a compass, three negative 45 degree changes in direction equals on positive 45 degree change. But the rational explanation does not require a mathematical explanation if, "right," and, "left," (or clockwise and counnterclockwise) are understood.
The kind of reasoning that resulted in what is called the periodic chart of the chemical elements was not syllogistic or even deductive, but almost entirely descriptive—the identification of the attributes that differentiated the chemical elements from each other. It was essentially concept formation.
Concepts Are Not Formed By Syllogisms
The beginning of all knowledge is the formation of concepts. Concepts are our means of holding in consciousness an awareness of existents whether those existents are available to direct perception or not. Concepts identify existents by means of the attributes which are those existents. The simplest concepts are formed when entities one has perceived are identified by means of their perceived attributes. The red round fruit that is firm and sweet and juicy when eaten is called an apple. The symbol, "apple," indicates the concept that refers to an apple, and what the concept refers to (i.e. what it means) is described or explained by the definition: "a red round firm fruit that is sweet and juicy when eaten." This is the basic reasoning process toward all knowledge. There are no syllogisms used in that reasoning process.
Certainty, Not Omniscience Or Infallibility
The knowledge that reason must be based on must be certain, but certainty does not mean omniscience or infallibility. "Certainty means, within the context of all available evidence and reason-based principles, there is no reason to doubt the veracity of this proposition." The number of things one knows for certain is nearly limitless:
One knows for certain everything they are currently consciously experience, seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling, reading, thinking, and that they are awake. They know whether it is day or night, whether they are cold or hot, they know where all their own features, their nose, ears, eyes, mouth, arms, hands, legs, feet and chest are. Most adults know for certain, electric lighting is possible, refrigeration is possible, getting to the moon is possible, X-rays are possible, anaesthesia (painless surgery) is possible, bacteria cause disease, that vaccination is possible, and lasers are possible, all things no one knew two hundred years ago, but are all certain today.
Certainty does not mean knowing everything, not omniscience. It means not denying or evading evidence there is and not doubting it when there is no evidence to the contrary.
Certainty does not mean never being able to make a mistake, not infallibility. It means if one's knowledge is truly knowledge and one's reasoning is correct that it will always result in knowledge of the truth.
Of course it is possible to learn and believe what is not true because one has not used their reason correctly or allowed sum substitute for rigorous reasoning (feelings, whim, sentiment, fears, laziness, gullibility, etc.) to corrupt their thinking.
The rational faculty, the ability to think and reason, like any other faculty can be misused. It is possible to rationalize rather reason, to be lazy and make mistakes, or base one's thinking on something other than objective evidence.
Human life is not possible without knowledge and reason, just as all life is not possible without food and water. One does not repudiate eating food because it is possible to eat poison or other harmful substances. One does not repudiate drinking water because it is possible to drink polluted water, or water tainted in some other harmful way. One does everything they can to ensure what they eat is nourishing and will not harm them. One does everything one can to ensure the water they drink is pure and healthful. The very same attitude must be taken toward reason and knowledge.
One must do everything they can to ensure all their reasoning is correct, that nothing is, "just assumed," that no contradiction is ever allowed, and no possible evidence is intentionally evaded. One must do everything they possibly can to ensure everything they learn and believe is based on evidence or sound reasoning from that evidence, that nothing is just, "accepted," on any basis but reason from evidence, (i.e. no feeling, whim, desire, sentiment, wish, hope, or claim of any authority or, "expert," etc.) and must learn all one possibly can about as many things as one possibly can.
One can be mistaken no matter how carefully they reason, but without reason they can be nothing but mistaken. One can be ignorant of some things no matter how much they learn, but one can only be ignorant if they fail to learn.
One can always improve their thinking and always learn more and the achievement of both is most of what mature adult human life is, the source of the most fulfilling and satisfying of life's joys.
The Mistake Of Empiricism
The basic mistake of empiricism is that knowledge is derived from evidence directly without the necessity of reason and concept formation.
Empiricism does not reject reason directly but assumes that knowledge is produced by perception itself. It makes da Vinci's dictum, "to see is to know," literal, thus reducing all knowledge to physicalism. It denies that which makes knowledge possible, rational volitional consciousness. It is, in fact, an evasion of evidence, the evidence of one's own consciousness. It says, in affect, only that which can be perceived (i.e. consciously seen, heard, felt, smelled or tasted) is evidence while denying the perception that makes evidence possible.
Perception, alone, does not provide any knowledge (the primary mistake in the idea of empiricism). All the higher animals, as far as can be known, perceive the world the same way human beings do (with minor variations in acuity and sensitivity), but have no knowledge from that perception. When a dog, or cat, or human sees a tree, that perception is essentially identical for them all, but the dog and cat cannot identify the tree, "as a tree," about which it can think when it is no longer seeing the tree. Only a human being can think, when not seeing the tree, "that's a lovely tree I saw today; I wonder if it bears fruit?" Only human beings can (and must) rationally identify the entities it sees as concepts and recall those concepts to think about them.
Even while seeing a tree, one cannot think about it without first identifying it. The process of identifying entities is rational process. Identifying something only means mentally differentiating it from everything else as a unique existent, and an actual entity. It is concept formation.
Reason And Human Relations
Like everything else in human life, one's relationships to others must be based on reason. Except for other human beings, one's relationship with all other things only requires knowing what those things are and what there nature is to be used or employed for one's own benefit. Other human beings are the exception, because they are also rational volitional beings and it is that nature that determines how one must relate to them.
One cannot deal with the mere physical entities of existence by reasoning with them. One cannot reason with a stone to get it to move or reason with an apple to make it fall off the tree. One cannot reason with other organisms either. One cannot reason with the fish to volunteer to be dinner or reason with a vicious animal to convince it not to attack us.
It is the nature of any existent that determines how one must deal with it. In most cases, dealing with the merely physical requires direct physical force, from plowing a field to building a dam. Even in the case of the simplest organisms, like plants and trees, dealing with them is mostly a direct physical action from sawing down trees for making lumber to planting seeds in a garden. Dealing with the higher animals, especially those that can be domesticated usually means discovering what their instinctive natures require and providing those requirements, from hay for gazing animals to dog and cat food for our pets, and motivating them by appealing directly to their instinctive desires and behavior.
Since the essential nature of human beings is their rational volitional consciousness it is that nature that determines how one must deal with them. It is that nature one must consider and appeal to when dealing with other human beings. One must recognize that other human being must use their own reason and knowledge when making their own choices and must choose to do what is in their own best interest. It means that any intercourse between individual human beings must be voluntary and based on their own best reason.
The only right way of dealing with other human beings is by means of reason, appealing to other's own ability to reason and choose what is best for them. It means any attempt to evade reason, to influence others by appeal to anything other than their reason, by appealing to their irrational fears, desires, whims, weaknesses, ignorance, or gullibility is denying the human nature of others. It is attempting to deal with other human beings as mere physical objects or dumb brutes to be forced, coerced, or deceived into doing what is not in their own best interest. That is why:
In any society, it is only the [rational] independent productive individuals who are capable of positive social relationships and deserve the benefits of society because they are the only individuals in any society who are never a threat to others and have anything of value to offer others in that society. All other members of a society [irrational] are, at some level, a threat to others' lives and freedom and have nothing of positive value to offer.