The Importance Of Reason In Different Areas Of Knowledge

“No knowledge can be produced by a single way of knowing”

When we refer to reason as a way of knowing it makes me think of how this allows our thoughts, decisions and judgements to be underpinned if not created by logic. In this essay I am going to discuss the importance of reason and other ways of knowing in different areas of knowledge.

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On one hand, reason is a reliable way of knowing because I think it allows us to clearly state or explain what is going on around us whereas emotion can block our view of perceiving things or people. In fact through emotions reason can become blurred as say for example that a victim of sexual abuse needs to identify her perpetrator; she might get any information which might lead her into giving a particular/desired response, as opposed to a necessarily accurate response. Though, if the woman is not particularly mislead by any questions which could affect her memory or get her emotionally overwhelmed by the horrible memories of what has happened than her logic comes into play by giving clear and concise answers. Perhaps, this will avoid the court to send the wrong defendant to prison.

Furthermore, by referring to a real life situation of how reason is a reliable way of knowing I could link this with Mathematics and how our deductive logic help us in this area of knowledge. For instance, if we take into account the mathematical system of the Euclidean geometry; this states that ‘The angle of a straight line is 180 degrees’. Therefore the premises could be: if we have a straight line C and another straight line D which crosses C such that it creates two angles x and y. Say that angle x equals 39º. What would the size of the angle y be? Basing on to the information that we have and the rule, we can deduce that the angle will be: 180º – 39º = 141º.

On the other hand reason is not a reliable way of knowing because I think it can lead to very weak deductions. This might link with analogical reasoning/argument and how this most of the time inhibit us to see beyond the surfaces. Say that a person doesn’t like prawns; therefore the same person will think that he/she will not either like oysters as both are crustaceans.

Moreover, by associating to a real life situation I want to bring up the argument of the philosopher Thomas Reid in 1785 for the existence of life on other planets. Here, there might be a link with Natural Science as Reid noted many similarities between the Earth and the other planets in our solar system. He stated that all orbits are illuminated by the sun, several have moons and all revolve on an axis. Therefore, he concludes, it is “not unreasonable to think, that those planets may, like our earth, be the habitation of various orders of living creatures”. Most of the time this type of reasoning can be the most convenient form of justification for a hypothesis.

In addition, relating to the statement “No knowledge can be produced by a single way of knowing” I think that this might be true. For instance, basing on Natural Science we can take into account the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. This phenomenon occurs as charged particles from the magnetosphere bump with atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, they take in extra energy which is expressed as light. As the sun causes hydrogen and helium to fuse, protons and electrons are shot into space. Therefore, we can deduce that we should first get the experience of an event taking place and then we are able to evaluate such knowledge only after the experience happened. Without sense perception we would not be able to share the knowledge of such events without first feeling, hearing, tasting, smelling, and in this case seeing what takes place. Thus, sense perception is required as a foundational stage in sharing knowledge. Though even if we saw what has taken place and through reason we deduce what is going on, yet without language we will not be able to communicate to the world about our discoveries and discuss about it in order to share the ‘perfect knowledge’.

Overall, I think that reason represents one of the most important ways of knowing yet I would not base myself just on this. I would use different combinations of ways of knowing which can create a more reliable knowledge.


01 February 2021

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