Beggar at Ghazi Chowk


Reasonable Circumstance

19 Jun 2013

Have you ever had the experience of listening to someone talk, or reading the words of a sage and feeling in the moment utterly convinced and in awe of the majesty of the idea that has engulfed you, only to wait for a few hours and realize you are unable to recount why you felt convinced, or what the person addressing you did to make you feel so? i.e. You are unable to recount what the person said, what it did to you such that it made you feel convinced.

The common explanation for an experience such as this is to resign the momentary clarity to the faculties of emotion, as opposed to reason. To argue that the argument you received appealed to the weaker of your two sensibilities, and made you feel something in the moment but was unsustainable – indicating that it did not stick in your mind and hence must have been unreasonable.

Reason trains us to unpack arguments to be able to judge the constituents that make up the arguments – premises, derived premises and the links between them. Through this deconstruction we are able not just to evaluate the argument but also to find the individual components to be able to reconstruct it again in the future. Reason gives us the ability to understand, record, and convey an argument. It is the fundamental modum of the transmission of human thought (where it is used both to filter out argument unworthy of transmission and then to propagate further that which passes the test).

Therefore, when we feel we are unable to explain why an argument convinced us (such in a political speech, or in a powerful religious experience), or what the argument was in the first place, we deduce that it must not have appealed to our faculty of reason.

But when an experience of the inability to recall and reevaluate and argument occurs in the case of reading certified argument (i.e. when you read the works of great philosophy that societal convention has certified for you as great example of the use of reason), one explains the inability to recall and explain initial conviction by virtue of the improper understanding i.e. a weak faculty of reason on the part of the student or addressee.

The fact is that society does not certify religion or politics or belief of any kind in a manner that it certifies science. And so while we are often comfortable finding solace in knowing that faculty of reason is weak when in the domain of science, it is the reputation of the argument that suffers (not of the student) when in the domain of belief.

But in the faculty of belief also, men have experiences which allow them to rekindle their faith in certain thought. They are able to find ways to understand the intuitive connection first felt, but never reproduced through action to augment or strengthen the faculties of man.

The idea being that whenever the experience occurs where any argument creates intuitive conviction, followed by failure of reason, it implies weakness in the faculty of reason of the adressee and not of the adresser. Thsi implies further that the Intuition is a human ability that surpasses Reason, for it is able to signal the presence of great thought before the presence of Reason. Reason is a technical skill, it is a fundamentally procedural, human faculty consisting of the deconstruction and reconstruction of the thought. Intuition, is an act of cognition of Divine quality, in a way that it is able to see through objects without actually having the procedural circumstances of ordinary, reasoned cognition.

When men are able to see through the thicket of signs around them and find profound truth (such as when a political pundit analyzes a situation and correctly predicts the outcome), we say that the man in question has great Vision. Whereby, even though this man cannot see with his senses the occurence of events he predicts, he sees through some other faculty beyond the human experience of judging events through the senses (which require specific worldy events to happen to trigger them: vibration to hear something, light to see something and so on.). Men of great vision rely not just on their senses but on an ability to see through a faculty that does not rely on incidence of suitable technical circumstance.

Similarly, Intuition is able to see things Reason cannot. For successful reasoning requires the skill of language and logic which define the technical, procedural circumstance needed. Intuition does not, it is a something we seem to be born with, and happens outside our control of worldly action. Therefore Intuition holds sway over Reason i.e it is a superior faculty as compared to Reason in some sense (especially in the realm of belief as opposed to science because society understands reason in science better that it understands reason in belief).


I used parts of these ideas in this little speech at a Friday sermon, which is based in being able to doubt yourself and your technical ability to reason.