Reason is a tricky thing. What is rational to some is irrational to others. Being reasonable is perhaps synonymous with “common sense” — but who has that these days? Long ago, these same thoughts prompted me to express a sense of reason (not my sense of reason, since that fluctuates…) through metaphor. Here’s what I came up with…
As conscious, sentient, thinking beings we are awash in a sea of information. But this is no dip in an innocent, tranquil wading pool. Perhaps drowning in a churning, heavy, depthless ocean swell would more clearly capture our fortuneless circumstance. The data stream flows with uncontrollable force, and we are carried out on its unyielding ebb. It is an unbridled, patent necessity, and we are passengers on its currents. How does one stay afloat atop this wave?
Reason. The thoughtful mind is at once prisoner and privateer. Fall victim to the seeming sense of urgency of this information sea, and horizons loom eternal. Set sail with the truth as desired booty, and land will be sighted in good time. The power of reason lies in the ability to set a course, and stay to it.
Thought is the soundest of vessels. Purpose the sternest of sails. Uncharted waters beckon and the clear course does not always correspond with the charts and maps. The clarity that comes from our reasoning selves is the compass to find our way. Heed not the backwaters of technique and pedantry. New maps are not always best to consult – sometimes the cartographer’s art only flourishes with the ages. The sailor’s true wisdom lies within, and no two vessels may follow the same course. Reason, above all, is the means to a safe and fruitful landfall.
Of the present-minded character of the bulk of all new ideas, one must only recall the ancient mapmaker’s refrain – “here there be monsters.”
Wisdom and skill come only from experience, tempered with a clever and curious conscience. Above all, let the truly rational within shine a beacon on dark and moonless nights, as it and only it is the sextant of the soul.
Not bad, in retrospect. l continue my voyage out beyond Ogden Point, just past my local coffee shop (check out the gallery!), needing to come up with a way to describe unreason cloaked as the ultimately rational — wait, I think Habermas and Chuck T beat me to that one — they called it instrumental rationality.
Be nice to have someone to talk to about this — where’s Descartes when you need him…Probably still freezing his ass off and getting up way too early in the morning in some horrifying alternate universe. That’s not very reasonable.