Why does the fluttering red cape prevail?
The confident Matador flutters the red cape, the massive bull charges, energetically hooking empty air in bewilderment.
Please be reasonable! Let us reason together. There was no reason for that. What do we mean by these common expressions?
Ignoring the fact that these are generally just common exclamations by most of us that are meaningful only in their emotional content; what is the source of our indication of reliance on ‘reason’?
“The decay of decency in the modern age, the rebellion against law and good faith, the treatment of human beings as things, as the mere instruments of power and ambition, is without a doubt the consequence of the decay of the belief in man as something more than an animal animated by highly conditioned reflexes and chemical reactions. For, unless man is something more than that, he has no rights that anyone is bound to respect, and there are no limitations upon his conduct which he is bound to obey.” Walter Lippmann
Western democracies have invested in a concentrated effort to establish a ‘confidence in reason’ because it is assumed by the sophisticated that reasoning is the principal factor that makes humans different in kind from other animals.
A popular adage goes something like this “I cannot argue down a conviction that has not been argued up.” It is impossible for me to use reason to convince someone who is without confidence in reason that they should have confidence in reason.
An adult without confidence in reason must start the effort to study reason before they can gain a confidence in reason. Perhaps that is impossible also. Perhaps it is the case that an adult without a confidence in reason will never have confidence in reason.
I suspect that 95% of the adults in the US have no confidence in reason and if my logic is correct they never will have that confidence. If that does not depress 5% of the population then nothing will. Perhaps it will delight the other 95%.
Further thought leads me to modify that statement. The 95% without confidence in reason do in fact have some confidence in reason. They do recognize that as an instrument to gain a goal reason is necessary.
What can we say about the 95% and reason? I guess we can say that they often have confidence in reason but that confidence is restricted to a limited aspect of life.
Is a person capable of having confidence in reason when that person is almost completely ignorant of the nature of reasoning?
“Confidence in reason is based on the belief that one’s own higher interests and those of humankind will be best served by giving free play to reason…The very idea of reasonability becomes one of the most important values and a focal point in one’s life. In short, to have confidence in reason is to use good reasoning as the fundamental criterion by which to judge whether to accept or reject any belief or position.” Quote from Critical Thinking: What every Person needs to Survive in a Rapidly Changing World Paul and Elder.
A person who lacks confidence n reason might place their trust in:
1) Charismatic leaders
2) Institutional leaders
3) Corporate leaders
4) Spiritual leaders
5) Social leaders
6) Political ideologies
7) Gut feeling