Empty Days

Sunday, May 15, 2005



"There is a great sadness in being guided by reason."

I found a draft of a blog entry that I wrote in december 2003 but never got around to develop. I still think that way. So - here goes.
There is a great sadness in being guided by reason.

Something that struck me while reading Ray Monk on L.W. - that ethics and logic are one. When we talk of reason we think of logic (rational thinking) and the word "ethics" evokes a set of rules of conduct that are reasonable. "Reason" implies both logic and ethics. But there is something frightening in this view.

Are our morals really reasonable? That's an old question but the *preferred* (though by no means the only) answer is always the same: yes. And we are convinced (and keep on convincing ourselves through arguments) that ethical choices are made by reason, and this is our idea of free will - that it is predicated on reason.

I have to think of people who are born or become reason-less - crazy or mentally handicapped or something of that sort. Are they still human then, do they have free will, or they are not part of humanity anymore?
If free-will is nothing but reasonable choices, then they are not human - not quite people, just beings, creatures of sorts: logic and ethics have nothing to do with them.

But what if ethics were not really a matter of reason? What if free-will had nothing to do with reason? What if good and evil were not quite the concepts we believe them to be? It is an old point that you can't really argue a reasonable foundation for Good and Evil (Nietzsche, who tried to see "beyond", and buddhists who say that there is no duality here at all in the absolute, and more still). But whichever way you try to explain this, you can't very well rule out the overwhelming experience of badness and goodness, you walk knee-deep in it every day of your life - relative or absolute, it is there, it reaps you open before you get a chance of making a theory of it.
What I meant here is simple: I never forgive some offense, for example, because it's reasonable or more useful to do so - I am only able to forgive when something inside my angry heart is let go and I can fully forget the offense. Arguments do not convince me to let go - but other unsaid things happen on the inside that are entirely non-rational yet have a profound moral effect. Etc and so on - nobody really lives from the head (though some people perhaps do, more than others).





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