Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Use of Reason

Sitting in my dressing room waiting for the call from R & J, I read Conrad's Under Western Eyes and came across this:
'For the use of reason is to justify the obscure reasons that move our conduct, impulses, passions, prejudices and follies, and also our fears.'


  1. Western societies place too much emphasis on reason because it allows them to suppress the deep animal impulses that drive us.

  2. Or it's basically used to suppress who we really are and how we really think/feel.

  3. Perhaps he meant that people tend to talk or act out of prejudice and simply seek to slap a veneer of rationality on it retrospectively, pretending, even to themselves, that their position is 'reasoned' not visceral. I take the view that most progress occurs because the prejudice of the governing faction just happens to coincide with the facts.

    We don't select political leaders for their reasoned judgement, but for the utility of their prejudice at that time: Margaret Thatcher will always believe free market fundamentalism is best regardless of circumstance; pragmatists acknowledge it had some use in the Eighties, but it can't be applied perpetually without precipitating disaster.

  4. by discuss, you mean reason? that's surely playing into the hands of the devil! I'm a bit worried that there are two reasons in that sentence, the obscure and the new, the implication being they might not be the same. can they both still be right?

    when things are right, these is no need for justification. or, as Ian Dury said, ''don't explain nothing!''

  5. There's something in it but if it's taken as describing all forms of rational thinking or applications of the scientific method then it's too cynical - it's the sort of thing poetic types say to justify their preference for whimsy and fuzz.