Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Perspective on Reason

In some of my reading the authors make statements that seem to indicate that the rational aspect of human existence is to be avoided as one would avoid a sickness. They allude to an inner experience that is to be preferred. I am left with the impression that to live in the 'now' experiencing some form of 'enlightenment' void of conscious reason is the peak of human existence. In moments of twisted humor I think of my mother. She is 88, lives in a nursing home, doesn't remember my name, no longer has the ability to reason and lives in the moment. Is she experiencing the life that so many appear to be seeking?

I'm confident the authors I have been reading would not agree with the amateur cartoon that I've painted above. However, I'm left with the question "what are they saying?" I don't understand enough to get the feeling that I see what they see. Brevity and conciseness often are hindrances to communication and I think that's the situation I've encountered.

Here are my thoughts.

I am one person with multiple facets -- facets such as physical, mental, social, spiritual, intuition, etc. Each of these facets combine to make me who I am. I can give focus to one facet and develop it to the exclusion of other facets. There are athletes who have developed physically while ignoring mental or social facets. There are students who develop the mental facet while ignoring the physical facet. My personal values and experiences lead me to want to develop all facets and seek some balance between them.

I enjoy reading and learning and interacting with people of differing ideas. I shy away from books and people who confirm my beliefs. My natural inclination is to favor the rational facet and I try to avoid excess in this area.

I have little native artistic ability. I enjoy music, sculpture and paintings but can't create them except at the most elementary level. I see paintings, hear music and read poetry that touch me at a level that is not rational. The paintings evoke feelings and experiences that tend toward the mystical. I have native rational ability that I can use to enrich my life. Cannot the rational be a vehicle of experience similar to that of the sculptor or composer or poet?

A painter captures only one aspect -- sight. The artist cannot convey sound, touch, taste or scent. These are allusions conveyed though light but this does not weaken the painting. I do not want to experience paintings with speakers and vents to emit scents. These would detract from the experience of the painting.

I can leave the gallery and enter a concert hall be moved to a new realm by an orchestra. I can leave the concert hall and slip into a poetry reading and be transported again. Likewise, I can attend a lecture relating scientific research or enter the doors of a university science building and experience something akin to a spiritual experience.

The pitfall that I attempt to avoid is to think that reason can capture, control and explain all of reality. The painter knows the limitations of the medium and distinguishes between the painting and reality. There are aspects of reality that cannot be portrayed on a canvas. The rational person knows the limitations of reason and distinguishes between the created mental model and reality. There are aspects of reality that are beyond the limitations of reason.

The artist chooses the brush, the color and the technique. The rational person uses reason in the same way and develops the art of reason.

34 Comments:

Blogger George Breed said...

The way I see it is that one can be wherever one wishes: reason/thinking, sensuality, emotion/feeling, human relationships, "nature communion," and so on, as long as one does not get stuck there. Stuckness is illness.

In our society, many folk get stuck in the commotion of thinking, stuck in their heads, thoughts pouring through unceasingly, believing that thoughts are the only reality. That is why thought is so often "attacked." Being stuck there is an illness.

When stuck in thought, one believes one's stories, sometimes to the point of being a danger to self or to others. For many, it is a virtual reality helmet rarely, if ever, removed. This occurs at all levels, including governmental.

Fluid movement through all of one's "realities" allows more awareness. And open awareness, in this one's experience, is to be prized.

The motto is "no clinging." Not even to the juiciness of reason.

10/25/2005 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Reason is a good servant and a bad master.

10/25/2005 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger George Breed said...

What he said!

10/25/2005 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger I_Wonder said...

Gentlemen, thank you for your comments. It would appear that I come from a distant land and know not the language.

Rob, I agree fully that "reason is a good servant and a bad master". By this I understand you to be saying that reason should be used when appropriate but there are times when reason should be layed aside because it is inappropriate for the moment being experienced -- such as times of sexual intimacy.

George, is there a distinction between reason and thinking or are the terms used interchangeably? I see reason as a tool whereas thinking can be void of reason. I know a woman who perceived a wrong 30 years ago and continues to dwell on it each day to be point that her anger boils. She is 'stuck' and 'clinging'. This is not reasonable.

Can you give me a 'governmental' example? Are you saying that politicians have adopted their party's beliefs, assumptions and philosophies to such an extent that they see everything through party-colored glasses rather than as it really is? I would not call these politicians 'rational'.

I hope I'm not beating a dead horse here because I truly would like to understand. Are we saying the same things in different ways or using different terminology?

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

10/25/2005 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

I see reason as most desirable. If one must have a master I can not think of a better one than reason.

10/25/2005 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger George Breed said...

I can, buffalo. Awareness (which includes reason).

10/25/2005 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger George Breed said...

Paul, reason as a tool seems cool to me. As long as one does not try to use it for everything, like using a pair of vice grips for a screwdriver.

I think whenever we use reason we by default have to look through a certain frame. When our reasoning changes we shift to another frame, but it's a frame all the same. It is possible to comprehend, to understand, outside all manufactured frames.

I call that Awareness.

10/25/2005 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger George Breed said...

vice grips? vise grips!

10/25/2005 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Reason is a necessary tool for dealing with worldly matters.

I don't believe anyone will ever prove or disprove the existence of God through reason. God is beyond duality so He neither exists nor does not exist -this is a paradox that reason cannot cope with.
Some people seem to have blind faith in reason. Just my two cents worth... all the best, Rob

10/25/2005 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger I_Wonder said...

Buffalo, good to have you visit again. I'm still looking forward to a cup of coffee some day.

10/25/2005 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger I_Wonder said...

George, I think we're saying the same thing! If such a thing as right and wrong existed, I think we would both be right - or both wrong!

10/25/2005 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger I_Wonder said...

Rob, once again I think we agree. I know some people attempt to prove or disprove the existence of God by reason but I think they are being unreasonable in the attempt.

Like the ladie's T-shirt said "Trust in God, she will provide". That's good enough.

Also, if I do the conversion correctly, 2 cents euro is worth a whole lot more in the US. Thanks for your generous comments.

10/25/2005 03:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The points you make assume yourself to be the body and everything stems from there. Until a few years ago, that too was how I viewed myself and others but experiences of late have showed me a reality that I had never before considered and probably would not have, had those experiences not have happened.

I have seen that so much of the pain in the world stems from such an identity and the inevitability of it until the falseness of that IDEA is challenged.

Identifying oneself with the physical form occurs before we are even aware that it has happened. I am grateful that I've had the opportunity to examine that concept.

10/25/2005 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger George Breed said...

anon, what do you mean when you say I?

10/25/2005 05:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 'I' that identifies this body but not as separate in reality.

10/25/2005 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger George Breed said...

Let's play 10,000 questions.
Question 1: Has my body met your body?

10/25/2005 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger I_Wonder said...

Anonymous, Can you share your experiences and the new reality that you know?

The phrase "assume yourself to be the body" is interesting. If I say "I have a body" does this imply "I" am distinct from my body or is this just a common figure of speech?

How does this identity lead to "so much of the pain in the world"?

You have sparked my interest.

10/25/2005 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Nondualreality said...

I think another point to be made is that "Reason" can be as subjective as any other way of seeing the world.

The real wonder of the human mind is that it can reason any thought, no matter what it is, into justifiable action.
People have used reason to justify wars, oppress others and worse. No one thinks that they are the bad guy, the have used Reasoning to get to an end point where they see their action as OK.

However it is far harder to sway thing like emotion, sensuality, intuition etc into a tool for the ego.

10/25/2005 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger I_Wonder said...

Nondualreality, thanks for your comments. I don't agree fully but you did give me a glimpse through the barrier of my blindness.

In my opinion, some politicians use reason to plan the manipution of the population, then they appeal to emotions -- fear, pride, greed, and others -- to get to their chosen end. In this case reason is used as a tool but for an ignoble purpose -- manipulation. It appears, from my limited experience, that emotion can be swayed before reason.

Would you agree that education is as suspect as reason? I pose this because I have known people who resented education in all forms. Why, I wonder? Was it because of jealousy and their lack of education? Was it because educated people had forced their opinions on them? I don't know but this memory does give me a glimpse into a possible explanation why some people are suspiscious of reason.

I think I see another point that may help pull various strands of thought together. I've said that reason is a tool but who/what controls the tool? Perhaps it's an integrity, a spirit, an enlightment, an awareness. An enlightend person can use reason and emotion and intution appropriately whereas an unenlightened person misuses these.

Now, what do we mean by 'appropriately', 'enlightened' and other terms?

Hmm! Appears our journey together can continue if we choose.

10/26/2005 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

Seems to me without reason awareness means little. I could be wrong - surely wouldn't be the first or last time.

10/26/2005 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger I_Wonder said...

Buffalo,

I don't think you're wrong this time.

Do bacteria reason? How about roses? Bees? Chimpanzees?

Seems to me that reason is one of the traits of our humanness.

Intuition gets my attention and points me in a direction. Emotions such as anger motivate me. Reason tempers the anger and guides the motivation in a constructive direction.

I think it was C.S. Lewis who said something like "God created mothers to protect the children from the neighbor's children; God created fathers to protect the neighbor's children from mother." I would add "God created reason to enable father to know how to protect the neighbor's children without angering mother."

10/26/2005 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger George Breed said...

Differing realms of thinking exist.

Three of them are:
Perspectival thinking, usually thought of as "reasoning," where one gets a perspective on something and "figures" it out.

Paradoxical thinking, outside the bounds of "reason," for comprehending such statements as "You would not seek me if you had not found me" and many of the sayings of Jesus.

Aperspectival thinking, outside the bounds of all perspective, which goes beyond all conceptualization. Another name for this is awareness. It is not intuition, but an integral state of consciousness.

10/26/2005 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger I_Wonder said...

George, we're getting there -- maybe! I am determined to understand your perspective.

If I read correctly, aperspectival thinking is the same as awareness. Let's save this for a later time.

I understand "outside the bounds of all perspective" to mean that I begin with a blank slate -- no assumptions, no preconceptions, no beliefs, no facts, no prior knowlege. Is this correct?

I understand "which goes beyond all conceptualization" to mean that I 'know' without thinking or using a rational process. I just know but don't really understand how I know or how I come to know. Is this correct?

10/26/2005 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger George Breed said...

Consider a concentric sphere model.

An inner sphere consists of assumptions, preconceptions, beliefs, concepts, etc. These continue to exist so no blank slate.

An outer sphere consists of awareness beyond concepts, beyond the track we have already laid to define "reality."

The world/universe presents itself, discloses itself to us.

In this realm, instead of looking at a tree and dismissing it with a word or phrase (oh, that's a tree) or with a description to ourselves of its "proper" behavior and function, we let that peculiarity of being disclose itself to us.

There is no subject over here and object over there. We are no longer in the ratio realm (rationalization).

We are in the realm of direct knowing (gnosis) rather than intellectual fabrication.

10/26/2005 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger I_Wonder said...

George,

If I come upon a tree, the inner sphere recognizes it as a "tree", the middle sphere (reason/rationality) may 'think' "just a tree" but the outer sphere let's it "disclose itself" -- let's the tree 'speak' since in this moment the tree may disclose something that I have not 'experienced'.

I think I hear you saying "awareness is having past experiences and knowledge but laying them aside because they can blind/deafen/desensitize us to the reality of the present experience."

10/26/2005 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

The art of learning is the art of not pre-judging. Only then can you "listen" with a clean slate.

In neural networks (such as our brains) everything we are, everything we know, everything we use to process information is created by the connection strength in countless synapses. The qualities of those connections are the results of experience. They are, in effect, frozen judgement.

My point is, The physical structure that creates our consciousness is made entirely of judgements. At some level we are attempting to perceive and learn without pre-judgement. If we think we succeed, either we are transcending the physical, or using an emergent property of higher conciousness, or we might just be fooling ourselves.

In any case, that sense of gnosis or awareness feels wonderful.

10/26/2005 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger George Breed said...

i wonder,
I am appreciative of your open mind and quickness of understanding.

10/26/2005 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger George Breed said...

paul, you are, as you say, proceeding from the assumption/hypothesis that matter creates consciousness. Habitual neural pathways then make sense.

An equally valid assumption is that consciousness creates matter.

We might be fooling ourselves either way.

We know while we don't know.

10/26/2005 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger I_Wonder said...

George, Today I read some summaries of the work of Gebser and Morin in an effort to cross that barrier that blocks understanding. Interesting stuff. Appears we may need to hold down a bench in the park to continue this discussion. I wonder -- if I fully understand will I agree fully? Doesn't matter because you're an OK old geezer and a fine warrior!

Thanks.

10/26/2005 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger George Breed said...

Well, heck yeah, we don't have to agree. Might be more fun if we didn't.

10/26/2005 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger I_Wonder said...

Paul,

Glad to have you join the discussion.

I've read some about neural networks and am trying to strenghten mine to be more patient, more loving, more observant.

A question if I may. Is it possible for one to experience gnosis or awareness and not consciously be aware that one is in a reality of gnosis?

10/26/2005 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

It is probably rare to be consciously aware when we are in gnosis. I like to think that a part of us always is.

We always have a connection to the great "unknowable" or "silent knowledge". We just get so caught up in our world of words that we tend to forget our connection. It is buried in the noise of our internal words.

Words are fascinating. By naming something, anything, we take an infinite being and limit it to fit into the dimensions of our understanding.

10/26/2005 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

me thinks this conversation is too mindful psydointelectual

10/26/2005 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger George Breed said...

Judgment zinging in from cyberspace.
Ambushed by anonymous arrow,
I can go no further....
Aaghhhh... I die........

10/27/2005 02:06:00 AM  

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