HOME

TheInfoList




Reason is the capacity of consciously applying
logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize Validity (logic), valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents statements and ar ...

logic
by drawing conclusions from new or existing
information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is whether it can be demonstrated to c ...

information
, with the aim of seeking the
truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In ...

truth
. It is closely associated with such characteristically
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A speci ...

human
activities as
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

philosophy
,
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...

science
,
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

language
,
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...
, and
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use ...

art
, and is normally considered to be a distinguishing ability possessed by
humans Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species ...
. Reason is sometimes referred to as
rationality Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclusions from new or existing information, with t ...

rationality
. Reasoning is associated with the acts of
thinking In their most common sense, the terms thought and thinking refer to conscious cognitive processes that can happen independently of sensory stimulation. Their most paradigmatic forms are judging, reasoning, concept formation, problem solving, an ...

thinking
and
cognition Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual functions and processes such as: attention, the formation of ...
, and involves using one's
intellect In the study of the human mind, intellect refers to, describes, and identifies the ability of the human mind to reach correct conclusions about what is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fa ...

intellect
. The field of
logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize Validity (logic), valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents statements and ar ...

logic
studies the ways in which humans can use formal reasoning to produce logically valid
argument In logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, lab ...
s. Reasoning may be subdivided into
forms Form is the shape, visual appearance, or :wikt:configuration, configuration of an object. In a wider sense, the form is the way something happens. Form also refers to: *Form (document), a document (printed or electronic) with spaces in which to w ...
of
logical reasoning Two kinds of logical reasoning are often distinguished in addition to formal deduction: induction and abduction. Given a precondition or '' premise'', a conclusion or ''logical consequence Logical consequence (also entailment) is a fundamental ...
, such as:
deductive reasoning Deductive reasoning, also deductive logic, is the process of reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making ...
,
inductive reasoning Inductive reasoning is a method of reasoning Reason is the capacity of Consciousness, consciously making sense of things, applying logic, and adapting or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. It ...
, and
abductive reasoning Abductive reasoning (also called abduction,For example: abductive inference, or retroduction) is a form of logical inference Inferences are steps in reasoning, moving from premises to logical consequences; etymologically, the word ''wikt:inf ...
.
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
drew a distinction between logical discursive reasoning (reason proper), and intuitive reasoning, in which the reasoning process through intuition—however valid—may tend toward the personal and the subjectively opaque. In some social and political settings logical and intuitive modes of reasoning may clash, while in other contexts intuition and formal reason are seen as complementary rather than adversarial. For example, in
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...
, intuition is often necessary for the creative processes involved with arriving at a
formal proof In logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize Validity (logic), valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents stateme ...
, arguably the most difficult of formal reasoning tasks. Reasoning, like habit or
intuition Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is ...

intuition
, is one of the ways by which thinking moves from one idea to a related idea. For example, reasoning is the means by which rational individuals understand sensory information from their environments, or conceptualize abstract dichotomies such as cause and
effect Effect may refer to: * A result or change of something ** List of effects ** Cause and effect, an idiom describing causality Pharmacy and pharmacology * Drug effect, a change resulting from the administration of a drug ** Therapeutic effect, a benef ...
,
truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In ...

truth
and falsehood, or ideas regarding notions of good or evil. Reasoning, as a part of executive decision making, is also closely identified with the ability to self-consciously change, in terms of
goal A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envision, Planning, plan and commit to achieve. People endeavour to reach goals within a finite time by setting Time limit, deadlines. A goal is roughly simi ...

goal
s,
belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconsci ...

belief
s, attitudes,
tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious ...

tradition
s, and
institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington Samuel Phillips Huntington (April 18, 1927 – December 24, 2008) was an American political scientist, adviser and academic. He spent more than half a century at Harvard University Ha ...
s, and therefore with the capacity for
freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philosophy and religion, it is associated with having free will and bein ...

freedom
and
self-determination The right of a people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an ...
. In contrast to the use of "reason" as an
abstract noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...
, a reason is a consideration given which either explains or justifies events, phenomena, or
behavior Behavior (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States. Cur ...
.Merriam-Webster.com
Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of reason
Reasons justify decisions, reasons support explanations of natural phenomena; reasons can be given to explain the actions (conduct) of individuals. Using reason, or reasoning, can also be described more plainly as providing good, or the best, reasons. For example, when evaluating a moral decision, "morality is, at the very least, the effort to guide one's conduct by ''reason''—that is, doing what there are the best reasons for doing—while giving equal nd impartialweight to the interests of all those affected by what one does."
Psychologists A psychologist is a professional A professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns a living from a specified professional activity. The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the ...

Psychologists
and
cognitive scientists Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual functions and processes such as: attention, the formation of ...

cognitive scientists
have attempted to study and explain how people reason, e.g. which cognitive and neural processes are engaged, and how cultural factors affect the inferences that people draw. The field of
automated reasoning Automation describes a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes. Human intervention is reduced by predetermining decision criteria, subprocess relationships, and related actions — and embodying those predeterm ...
studies how reasoning may or may not be modeled computationally.
Animal psychology Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume organic material, Cellular respiration#Aerobic respiration, ...
considers the question of whether animals other than humans can reason.


Etymology and related words

In the
English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), g ...

English language
and other modern
European languages Most languages of Europe belong to the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures ...

European languages
, "reason", and related words, represent words which have always been used to translate Latin and classical Greek terms in the sense of their philosophical usage. * The original
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
term was ''
logos ''Logos'' (, ; grc, λόγος ''Logos'' (, ; grc, λόγος ''Logos'' (, ; grc, λόγος, lógos; from , , ) is a term in Western philosophy Western philosophy refers to the philosophy, philosophical thought and work of the W ...

logos
'', the root of the modern English word "
logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize Validity (logic), valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents statements and ar ...

logic
" but also a word which could mean for example "speech" or "explanation" or an "account" (of money handled). * As a philosophical term ''logos'' was translated in its non-linguistic senses in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
as ''
ratio In mathematics, a ratio indicates how many times one number contains another. For example, if there are eight oranges and six lemons in a bowl of fruit, then the ratio of oranges to lemons is eight to six (that is, 8∶6, which is equivalent to ...

ratio
''. This was originally not just a translation used for philosophy, but was also commonly a translation for ''logos'' in the sense of an account of money. *
French
French
'' raison'' is derived directly from Latin, and this is the direct source of the English word "reason". The earliest major philosophers to publish in English, such as
Francis Bacon Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, (; 22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626), also known as Lord Verulam, was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General for England and Wales, Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of K ...

Francis Bacon
,
Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes ( ; sometimes known as Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; 5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first sp ...
, and
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
also routinely wrote in Latin and French, and compared their terms to Greek, treating the words "''logos''", "''ratio''", "''raison''" and "reason" as interchangeable. The meaning of the word "reason" in senses such as "human reason" also overlaps to a large extent with "
rationality Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclusions from new or existing information, with t ...

rationality
" and the adjective of "reason" in philosophical contexts is normally "
rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογι ...

rational
", rather than "reasoned" or "reasonable". Some philosophers,
Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes ( ; sometimes known as Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; 5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first sp ...
for example, also used the word ratiocination as a synonym for "reasoning".


Philosophical history

The proposal that reason gives humanity a special position in nature has been argued to be a defining characteristic of western
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

philosophy
and later western
modern science The history of science covers the development of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes knowledge in the form of ...
, starting with classical Greece. Philosophy can be described as a way of life based upon reason, and in the other direction, reason has been one of the major subjects of philosophical discussion since ancient times. Reason is often said to be reflexive, or "self-correcting", and the critique of reason has been a persistent theme in philosophy. It has been defined in different ways, at different times, by different thinkers about human nature.


Classical philosophy

For many classical
philosophers A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, ...
, nature was understood teleologically, meaning that every type of thing had a definitive purpose that fit within a natural order that was itself understood to have aims. Perhaps starting with
Pythagoras Pythagoras of Samos, or simply ; in Ionian Greek () was an ancient Ionians, Ionian Ancient Greek philosophy, Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of Pythagoreanism. His political and religious teachings were well known in Magna Graec ...

Pythagoras
or
Heraclitus Heraclitus of Ephesus (; grc-gre, Ἡράκλειτος ; , ) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), ...

Heraclitus
, the cosmos is even said to have reason. Reason, by this account, is not just one characteristic that humans happen to have, and that influences happiness amongst other characteristics. Reason was considered of higher stature than other characteristics of human nature, such as sociability, because it is something humans share with nature itself, linking an apparently immortal part of the human mind with the divine order of the cosmos itself. Within the human
mind The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fun ...

mind
or
soul In many religious, philosophical, and myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as ...
(''
psyche Psyche (''Psyché'' in French) is the Greek term for "soul" or "spirit" (ψυχή). It may also refer to: Psychology * Psyche (psychology), the totality of the human mind, conscious and unconscious * Psyche (book), ''Psyche'' (book), an 1846 boo ...
''), reason was described by
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

Plato
as being the natural monarch which should rule over the other parts, such as spiritedness (''
thumos ''Thumos'' (also commonly spelled 'thymos'; grc-gre, θυμός) is a Greek word expressing the concept of "spiritedness" (as in "spirited stallion" or "spirited debate"). The word indicates a physical association with breath or blood and is also u ...
'') and the passions.
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
, Plato's student, defined human beings as
rational animal The term rational animal (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to ...
s, emphasizing reason as a characteristic of
human nature Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or wont as a humorous and formal term) is a routine of behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British ...

human nature
. He ''defined'' the highest human happiness or well being (''
eudaimonia Eudaimonia (Ancient Greek, Greek: :Wiktionary:εὐδαιμονία, εὐδαιμονία ; sometimes anglicized as eudaemonia or eudemonia, ) is a Greek word literally translating to the state or condition of 'good spirit', and which is commonl ...
'') as a life which is lived consistently, excellently, and completely in accordance with reason. The conclusions to be drawn from the discussions of Aristotle and Plato on this matter are amongst the most debated in the history of philosophy., p. 3. But teleological accounts such as Aristotle's were highly influential for those who attempt to explain reason in a way that is consistent with
monotheism Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciou ...
and the immortality and divinity of the human soul. For example, in the
neoplatonist Neoplatonism is a strand of Platonic Plato's influence on Western culture was so profound that several different concepts are linked by being called Platonic or Platonist, for accepting some assumptions of Platonism, but which do not imply accept ...
account of
Plotinus Plotinus (; grc-gre, Πλωτῖνος, ''Plōtînos'';  – 270 CE) was a major Hellenistic The Hellenistic period spans the period of Mediterranean history The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surround ...

Plotinus
, the
cosmos The cosmos (, ) is another name for the Universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prev ...

cosmos
has one soul, which is the seat of all reason, and the souls of all individual humans are part of this soul. Reason is for Plotinus both the provider of form to material things, and the light which brings individuals souls back into line with their source.


Christian and Islamic philosophy

The classical view of reason, like many important Neoplatonic and Stoic ideas, was readily adopted by the early Church as the Church Fathers saw Greek Philosophy as an indispensable instrument given to mankind so that we may understand revelation. For example, the greatest among the early saint
Church Fathers The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians Christian theology is the theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, di ...
and
Doctors of the Church Doctor or The Doctor may refer to: Personal titles * Doctor (title), the holder of an accredited academic degree * A medical practitioner, including: ** Physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Co ...
such as
Augustine of Hippo Augustine of Hippo (; la, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and philosopher of Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Im ...

Augustine of Hippo
,
Basil of Caesarea Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great ( grc, Ἅγιος Βασίλειος ὁ Μέγας, ''Hágios Basíleios ho Mégas''; cop, Ⲡⲓⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ Ⲃⲁⲥⲓⲗⲓⲟⲥ; 330 – January 1 or 2, 379), was an East Roman ...

Basil of Caesarea
and
Gregory of Nyssa Gregory of Nyssa, also known as Gregory Nyssen ( grc-gre, Γρηγόριος Νύσσης; c. 335 – c. 395), was bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is gener ...

Gregory of Nyssa
were as much Neoplatonic philosophers as they were Christian theologians and adopted the Neoplatonic view of human reason together with the associated implications for our relationship to creation, to ourselves and to God. Such Neoplatonist accounts of the rational part of the human soul were also standard amongst medieval Islamic philosophers and remain important in
Iranian philosophy Iranian philosophy (Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** ...
. As European intellectualism recovered from the post-Roman dark ages, the Christian
Patristic Patristics or patrology is the study of the early Christian writers who are designated Church Fathers. The names derive from the Classical compound, combined forms of Latin ''pater'' and Greek ''patḗr'' (father). The period is generally consider ...
heritage and the influence of the great Islamic scholars such as
Averroes Ibn Rushd ( ar, ; full name Image:FML names-2.png, 300px, First/given, middle and last/family/surname with John Fitzgerald Kennedy as example. This shows a structure typical for the Anglosphere, among others. Other cultures use other struc ...

Averroes
and
Avicenna Ibn Sina ( fa, ابن سینا), also known as Abu Ali Sina (), Pur Sina (), and often known in the West as Avicenna (;  – June 1037), was a Persian polymath who is regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, t ...

Avicenna
produced the Scholastic (see
Scholasticism Scholasticism was a medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people ...
) view of reason from which our modern idea of this concept has developed. Among the Scholastics who relied on the classical concept of reason for the development of their doctrines, none were more influential than
Saint Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Dominican may refer to: * Someone or something from or related to the Dominican Republic The Dominican Republic ( ; es, ...

Saint Thomas Aquinas
, who put this concept at the heart of his
Natural Law Natural law ( la, ius naturale, ''lex naturalis'') is a system of law based on a close observation of human nature Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or ...
. In this doctrine, Thomas concludes that because humans have reason and because reason is a spark of the divine, every single human life is invaluable, all humans are equal and every human is born with an intrinsic and permanent set of basic rights. On this foundation, the idea of human rights would later be constructed by Spanish theologians at the
School of Salamanca The School of Salamanca, also called Iberian School of Peace, ( es, Escuela de Salamanca) is the Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. was a period in European history marking the transition from the Middle ...
. Other Scholastics, such as
Roger Bacon Roger Bacon (; la, Rogerus or ', also '' Rogerus''; ), also known by the scholastic accolade It was customary in the European Middle Ages, more precisely in the period of scholasticism which extended into early modern times, to designate th ...
and
Albertus Magnus Albertus Magnus (c. 1200 – November 15, 1280), also known as Saint Albert the Great or Albert of Cologne, was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany ...

Albertus Magnus
, following the example of Islamic scholars such as
Alhazen Ḥasan Ibn al-Haytham (Latinization of names, Latinized as Alhazen ; full name ; ) was a Muslim Arab Mathematics in medieval Islam, mathematician, Astronomy in the medieval Islamic world, astronomer, and Physics in the medieval Islamic world, ...
, emphasised reason an intrinsic human ability to decode the created order and the structures that underlie our experienced physical reality. This interpretation of reason was instrumental to the development of the scientific method in the early Universities of the high middle ages.


Subject-centred reason in early modern philosophy

The
early modern era The early modern period of follows the of the . Although the chronological limits of this period are open to debate, the spans the period after the late post-classical or Middle Ages (c. 1400–1500) through the beginning of the (c. 1800). ...
was marked by a number of significant changes in the understanding of reason, starting in
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
. One of the most important of these changes involved a change in the
metaphysical Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of consciousness and the relationship between ...

metaphysical
understanding of human beings. Scientists and philosophers began to question the teleological understanding of the world. Nature was no longer assumed to be human-like, with its own aims or reason, and human nature was no longer assumed to work according to anything other than the same " laws of nature" which affect inanimate things. This new understanding eventually displaced the previous
world view A worldview or world-view is the fundamental cognitive Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual ...
that derived from a spiritual understanding of the universe. Accordingly, in the 17th century,
René Descartes René Descartes ( or ; ; Latinized Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920s ...

René Descartes
explicitly rejected the traditional notion of humans as "rational animals", suggesting instead that they are nothing more than "thinking things" along the lines of other "things" in nature. Any grounds of knowledge outside that understanding was, therefore, subject to doubt. In his search for a foundation of all possible knowledge, Descartes deliberately decided to throw into doubt ''all'' knowledge – ''except'' that of the mind itself in the process of thinking:
At this time I admit nothing that is not necessarily true. I am therefore precisely nothing but a thinking thing; that is a mind, or intellect, or understanding, or reason – words of whose meanings I was previously ignorant.
This eventually became known as
epistemological Epistemology (; ) is the Outline of philosophy, branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic Justification (epistemology), justification, the Reason, rationality o ...
or "subject-centred" reason, because it is based on the ''knowing subject'', who perceives the rest of the world and itself as a set of objects to be studied, and successfully mastered by applying the knowledge accumulated through such study. Breaking with tradition and many thinkers after him, Descartes explicitly did not divide the incorporeal soul into parts, such as reason and intellect, describing them as one indivisible incorporeal entity. A contemporary of Descartes,
Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes ( ; sometimes known as Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; 5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first sp ...
described reason as a broader version of "addition and subtraction" which is not limited to numbers. This understanding of reason is sometimes termed "calculative" reason. Similar to Descartes, Hobbes asserted that "No discourse whatsoever, can end in absolute knowledge of fact, past, or to come" but that "sense and memory" is absolute knowledge. In the late 17th century, through the 18th century,
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
and
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) Cranston, Maurice, and Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 250px, A sign on a beach ...

David Hume
developed Descartes' line of thought still further. Hume took it in an especially
skeptical Skepticism (American English, American and Canadian English) or scepticism (British English, British, Hiberno-English, Irish, Australian English, Australian, and New Zealand English) is generally a questioning attitude or doubt towards one or m ...

skeptical
direction, proposing that there could be no possibility of deducing relationships of cause and effect, and therefore no knowledge is based on reasoning alone, even if it seems otherwise. Hume famously remarked that, "We speak not strictly and philosophically when we talk of the combat of passion and of reason. Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them." Hume also took his definition of reason to unorthodox extremes by arguing, unlike his predecessors, that human reason is not qualitatively different from either simply conceiving individual ideas, or from judgments associating two ideas, and that "reason is nothing but a wonderful and unintelligible instinct in our souls, which carries us along a certain train of ideas, and endows them with particular qualities, according to their particular situations and relations." It followed from this that animals have reason, only much less complex than human reason. In the 18th century,
Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about r ...

Immanuel Kant
attempted to show that Hume was wrong by demonstrating that a " transcendental" self, or "I", was a necessary condition of all experience. Therefore, suggested Kant, on the basis of such a self, it is in fact possible to reason both about the conditions and limits of human knowledge. And so long as these limits are respected, reason can be the vehicle of morality, justice, aesthetics, theories of knowledge (
epistemology Epistemology (; ) is the Outline of philosophy, branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic Justification (epistemology), justification, the Reason, rationality o ...

epistemology
), and understanding.


Substantive and formal reason

In the formulation of Kant, who wrote some of the most influential modern treatises on the subject, the great achievement of reason (german: Vernunft) is that it is able to exercise a kind of universal law-making. Kant was able therefore to reformulate the basis of moral-practical, theoretical and aesthetic reasoning, on "universal" laws. Here
practical reason In philosophy, practical reason is the use of reason to decide how to philosophy of action, act. It contrasts with theoretical reason, often called speculative reason, the use of reason to decide what to follow. For example, agents use practical rea ...
ing is the self-legislating or self-governing formulation of universal
norms Norm, the Norm or NORM may refer to: In academic disciplines * Norm (geology), an estimate of the idealised mineral content of a rock * Norm (philosophy), a standard in normative ethics that is prescriptive rather than a descriptive or explanato ...
, and
theoretical A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, G ...

theoretical
reasoning the way humans posit universal laws of nature. Under practical reason, the moral
autonomy In developmental psychology Developmental psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions ...

autonomy
or freedom of human beings depends on their ability to behave according to laws that are given to them by the proper exercise of that reason. This contrasted with earlier forms of morality, which depended on and interpretation, or
nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...

nature
for their substance. According to Kant, in a free society each individual must be able to pursue their goals however they see fit, so long as their actions conform to principles given by reason. He formulated such a principle, called the " categorical imperative", which would justify an action only if it could be universalized:
Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.
In contrast to Hume then, Kant insists that reason itself (German '' Vernunft'') has natural ends itself, the solution to the metaphysical problems, especially the discovery of the foundations of morality. Kant claimed that this problem could be solved with his "
transcendental logic ''Critique of Pure Reason'' (german: Kritik der reinen Vernunft; 1781; second edition 1787) is a book by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, ; ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German Philosophy, philosopher a ...
" which unlike normal logic is not just an instrument, which can be used indifferently, as it was for Aristotle, but a theoretical science in its own right and the basis of all the others. According to
Jürgen Habermas Jürgen Habermas (, ; ; born 18 June 1929) is a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, e ...
, the "substantive unity" of reason has dissolved in modern times, such that it can no longer answer the question "How should I live?" Instead, the unity of reason has to be strictly formal, or "procedural". He thus described reason as a group of three autonomous spheres (on the model of Kant's three critiques): # ''Cognitive–instrumental reason'' is the kind of reason employed by the sciences. It is used to observe events, to predict and control outcomes, and to intervene in the world on the basis of its hypotheses; # ''Moral–practical reason'' is what we use to deliberate and discuss issues in the moral and political realm, according to universalizable procedures (similar to Kant's categorical imperative); and # ''Aesthetic reason'' is typically found in works of art and literature, and encompasses the novel ways of seeing the world and interpreting things that those practices embody. For Habermas, these three spheres are the domain of experts, and therefore need to be mediated with the "
lifeworld Lifeworld (or life-world) (german: Lebenswelt) may be conceived as a universe of what is self-evident or given, a world that subjects may experience together. The concept was popuralized by Edmund Husserl, who emphasized its role as the ground of ...
" by philosophers. In drawing such a picture of reason, Habermas hoped to demonstrate that the substantive unity of reason, which in pre-modern societies had been able to answer questions about the good life, could be made up for by the unity of reason's formalizable procedures.


The critique of reason

,
Herder A herder is a pastoral A pastoral lifestyle is that of shepherds herd A herd is a social group of certain animals of the same species, either wildness, wild or Domestication, domestic. The form of collective animal behavior associ ...

Herder
,
Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about r ...

Kant
,
Hegel Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (; ; 27 August 1770 – 14 November 1831) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citi ...
, Kierkegaard,
Nietzsche Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (; or ; 15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet, writer, and philologist Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the ...

Nietzsche
,
Heidegger Martin Heidegger (; ; 26 September 188926 May 1976) was a key German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, ...
, , Rorty, and many other philosophers have contributed to a debate about what reason means, or ought to mean. Some, like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Rorty, are skeptical about subject-centred, universal, or instrumental reason, and even skeptical toward reason as a whole. Others, including Hegel, believe that it has obscured the importance of
intersubjectivity In philosophy, psychology, sociology, and anthropology, intersubjectivity is the Relations (philosophy), relation or intersection between people's Perspective (cognitive), cognitive perspectives. Definition is a term coined by social scientists a ...
, or "spirit" in human life, and attempt to reconstruct a model of what reason should be. Some thinkers, e.g. Foucault, believe there are other ''forms'' of reason, neglected but essential to modern life, and to our understanding of what it means to live a life according to reason. In the last several decades, a number of proposals have been made to "re-orient" this critique of reason, or to recognize the "other voices" or "new departments" of reason: For example, in opposition to subject-centred reason, Habermas has proposed a model of communicative reason that sees it as an essentially cooperative activity, based on the fact of linguistic
intersubjectivity In philosophy, psychology, sociology, and anthropology, intersubjectivity is the Relations (philosophy), relation or intersection between people's Perspective (cognitive), cognitive perspectives. Definition is a term coined by social scientists a ...
.
Nikolas Kompridis Nikolas Kompridis (; born 1953) is a Canadian philosopher and political theory, political theorist. His major published work addresses the direction and orientation of Frankfurt School critical theory; the legacy of philosophical romanticism; and ...

Nikolas Kompridis
has proposed a widely encompassing view of reason as "that ensemble of practices that contributes to the opening and preserving of openness" in human affairs, and a focus on reason's possibilities for social change. The philosopher , influenced by the 20th century German philosopher
Martin Heidegger Martin Heidegger (; ; 26 September 188926 May 1976) was a key German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, ...
, has proposed that reason ought to include the faculty of disclosure, which is tied to the way we make sense of things in everyday life, as a new "department" of reason. In the essay "What is Enlightenment?", Michel Foucault proposed a concept of critique based on Kant's distinction between "private" and "public" uses of reason. This distinction, as suggested, has two dimensions: * ''Private reason'' is the reason that is used when an individual is "a cog in a machine" or when one "has a role to play in society and jobs to do: to be a soldier, to have taxes to pay, to be in charge of a parish, to be a civil servant". * ''Public reason'' is the reason used "when one is reasoning as a reasonable being (and not as a cog in a machine), when one is reasoning as a member of reasonable humanity". In these circumstances, "the use of reason must be free and public."


Reason compared to related concepts


Compared to logic

The terms ''logic'' or ''logical'' are sometimes used as if they were identical with the term ''reason'' or with the concept of being ''rational'', or sometimes logic is seen as the most pure or the defining form of reason: "Logic is about reasoning—about going from premises to a conclusion. ... When you do logic, you try to clarify reasoning and separate good from bad reasoning." In modern
economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interact ...

economics
,
rational choice Rational choice theory, also known as theory of rational choice, choice theory or rational action theory, is a framework for understanding and often formally modeling social and economic behavior. It dictates that every person, in order to dete ...
is assumed to equate to logically
consistent In classical deductive logic Deductive reasoning, also deductive logic, is the process of reasoning from one or more statements (premises) to reach a logical conclusion. Deductive reasoning goes in the same direction as that of the conditiona ...

consistent
choice. Reason and logic can however be thought of as distinct, although logic is one important aspect of reason. Author
Douglas Hofstadter Douglas Richard Hofstadter (born February 15, 1945) is an American scholar of cognitive science Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic ...
, in ''
Gödel, Escher, Bach ''Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid'', also known as ''GEB'', is a 1979 book by Douglas Hofstadter Douglas Richard Hofstadter (born February 15, 1945) is an American scholar of cognitive science, physics, and comparative literature ...
'', characterizes the distinction in this way: Logic is done inside a system while reason is done outside the system by such methods as skipping steps, working backward, drawing diagrams, looking at examples, or seeing what happens if you change the rules of the system. Psychologists Mark H. Bickard and Robert L. Campbell argued that "rationality cannot be simply assimilated to logicality"; they noted that "human knowledge of logic and logical systems has developed" over time through reasoning, and logical systems "can't construct new logical systems more powerful than themselves", so reasoning and rationality must involve more than a system of logic. Psychologist David Moshman, citing Bickhard and Campbell, argued for a "
metacognitive Metacognition is "cognition Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual functions and processes such as: ...
conception of rationality" in which a person's development of reason "involves increasing consciousness and control of logical and other inferences". Reason is a type of
thought In their most common sense, the terms thought and thinking refer to conscious cognitive processes that can happen independently of sensory stimulation. Their most paradigmatic forms are judging, reasoning, concept formation, problem solving, an ...

thought
, and
logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize Validity (logic), valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents statements and ar ...

logic
involves the attempt to describe a system of formal rules or norms of appropriate reasoning. The oldest surviving writing to explicitly consider the rules by which reason operates are the works of the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mi ...

philosopher
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
, especially ''Prior Analysis'' and ''Posterior Analysis''. Although the Ancient Greeks had no separate word for logic as distinct from language and reason, Aristotle's newly coined word "
syllogism A syllogism ( grc-gre, συλλογισμός, ''syllogismos'', 'conclusion, inference') is a kind of logical argument In logic and philosophy, an argument is a series of statements (in a natural language), called the premises or premisses (bo ...
" (''syllogismos'') identified logic clearly for the first time as a distinct field of study. When Aristotle referred to "the logical" (''hē logikē''), he was referring more broadly to rational thought.


Reason compared to cause-and-effect thinking, and symbolic thinking

As pointed out by philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke and Hume, some animals are also clearly capable of a type of " associative thinking", even to the extent of associating causes and effects. A dog once kicked, can learn how to recognize the warning signs and avoid being kicked in the future, but this does not mean the dog has reason in any strict sense of the word. It also does not mean that humans acting on the basis of experience or habit are using their reason. Human reason requires more than being able to associate two ideas, even if those two ideas might be described by a reasoning human as a cause and an effect, perceptions of smoke, for example, and memories of fire. For reason to be involved, the association of smoke and the fire would have to be thought through in a way which can be explained, for example as cause and effect. In the explanation of , for example, reason requires the mental use of a third idea in order to make this comparison by use of
syllogism A syllogism ( grc-gre, συλλογισμός, ''syllogismos'', 'conclusion, inference') is a kind of logical argument In logic and philosophy, an argument is a series of statements (in a natural language), called the premises or premisses (bo ...
. More generally, reason in the strict sense requires the ability to create and manipulate a system of
symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), m ...

symbol
s, as well as indices and icons, according to
Charles Sanders Peirce Charles Sanders Peirce ( ; September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914) was an American philosopher, ian, mathematician and scientist who is sometimes known as "the father of ". He was known as a somewhat unusual character. Educated as a chemist an ...

Charles Sanders Peirce
, the symbols having only a nominal, though habitual, connection to either smoke or fire. One example of such a system of artificial symbols and signs is
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

language
. The connection of reason to symbolic thinking has been expressed in different ways by philosophers.
Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes ( ; sometimes known as Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; 5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first sp ...
described the creation of "Markes, or Notes of remembrance" (''
Leviathan Leviathan (; , ) is a sea serpent A sea serpent or sea dragon is a type of dragon A dragon is a large, snake, serpentine, legendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. Beliefs about dragons vary consid ...
'' Ch. 4) as ''speech''. He used the word ''speech'' as an English version of the Greek word ''
logos ''Logos'' (, ; grc, λόγος ''Logos'' (, ; grc, λόγος ''Logos'' (, ; grc, λόγος, lógos; from , , ) is a term in Western philosophy Western philosophy refers to the philosophy, philosophical thought and work of the W ...

logos
'' so that speech did not need to be communicated. When communicated, such speech becomes language, and the marks or notes or remembrance are called " Signes" by Hobbes. Going further back, although Aristotle is a source of the idea that only humans have reason (''logos''), he does mention that animals with imagination, for whom sense perceptions can persist, come closest to having something like reasoning and ''
nous ''Nous'' (, ), sometimes equated to intellect In the study of the human mind, intellect refers to, describes, and identifies the ability of the human mind to reach correct conclusions about what is true True most commonly refers to truth ...

nous
'', and even uses the word "logos" in one place to describe the distinctions which animals can perceive in such cases.


Reason, imagination, mimesis, and memory

Reason and
imagination Imagination is the ability to produce and simulate novel objects, sensations, and ideas in the mind The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental Phenomenon, phenomena. Often the term is also identified with the phenomena themselves. ...

imagination
rely on similar
mental processes Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual function Intellectual functioning refers to the "general ment ...

mental processes
. Imagination is not only found in humans. Aristotle, for example, stated that ''phantasia'' (imagination: that which can hold images or ''phantasmata'') and ''phronein'' (a type of thinking that can judge and understand in some sense) also exist in some animals. According to him, both are related to the primary perceptive ability of animals, which gathers the perceptions of different senses and defines the order of the things that are perceived without distinguishing universals, and without deliberation or ''logos''. But this is not yet reason, because human imagination is different. The recent modern writings of
Terrence Deacon Terrence William Deacon (born 1950) is an American neuroanthropologist (Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology, Harvard University Harvard University is a Private university, private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Est ...
and
Merlin DonaldMerlin Wilfred Donald (born November 17, 1939) is a Canadians, Canadian psychology, psychologist, Neuroanthropology, neuroanthropologist, and cognitive neuroscience, cognitive neuroscientist, at Case Western Reserve University. He is noted for the po ...
, writing about the
origin of language The origin of language (spoken and signed, as well as language-related technological systems such as writing), its relationship with human evolution, and its consequences have been subjects of study for centuries. Scholars wishing to study the ...
, also connect reason connected to not only
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

language
, but also
mimesis Mimesis (; grc, μίμησις, ''mīmēsis'') is a term used in literary criticism Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced by li ...

mimesis
. More specifically they describe the ability to create
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

language
as part of an internal modeling of
reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only imaginary Imaginary may refer to: * Imaginary (sociology), a concept in sociology * The Imaginary (psychoanalysis), a concept by ...

reality
specific to humankind. Other results are
consciousness Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience or awareness of internal and external existence. Despite millennia of analyses, definitions, explanations and debates by philosophers and scientists, consciousness remains puzzling and controversial ...

consciousness
, and
imagination Imagination is the ability to produce and simulate novel objects, sensations, and ideas in the mind The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental Phenomenon, phenomena. Often the term is also identified with the phenomena themselves. ...

imagination
or
fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving Magic (supernatural), magical elements, typically set in a fictional universe and sometimes inspired by mythology and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became fantasy lit ...

fantasy
. In contrast, modern proponents of a genetic predisposition to language itself include
Noam Chomsky Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gesture ...

Noam Chomsky
and
Steven Pinker Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science Popular science (also called pop-science or popsci) is an interpretation of science intended for a general audience. ...

Steven Pinker
, to whom Donald and Deacon can be contrasted. As reason is symbolic thinking, and peculiarly human, then this implies that humans have a special ability to maintain a clear consciousness of the distinctness of "icons" or images and the real things they represent. Starting with a modern author, Merlin Donald writes
A dog might perceive the "meaning" of a fight that was realistically play-acted by humans, but it could not reconstruct the message or distinguish the representation from its referent (a real fight). ..Trained apes are able to make this distinction; young children make this distinction early – hence, their effortless distinction between play-acting an event and the event itself
In classical descriptions, an equivalent description of this mental faculty is ''eikasia'', in the philosophy of Plato. This is the ability to perceive whether a perception is an image of something else, related somehow but not the same, and therefore allows humans to perceive that a dream or memory or a reflection in a mirror is not reality as such. What Klein refers to as ''dianoetic eikasia'' is the ''eikasia'' concerned specifically with thinking and mental images, such as those mental symbols, icons, ''signes'', and marks discussed above as definitive of reason. Explaining reason from this direction: human thinking is special in the way that we often understand visible things as if they were themselves images of our intelligible "objects of thought" as "foundations" (''hypothēses'' in Ancient Greek). This thinking (''dianoia'') is "...an activity which consists in making the vast and diffuse jungle of the visible world depend on a plurality of more 'precise' ''noēta''". Both Merlin Donald and the Socratic authors such as Plato and Aristotle emphasize the importance of ''mimesis'', often translated as ''imitation'' or ''representation''. Donald writes
Imitation is found especially in monkeys and apes .. but ...Mimesis is fundamentally different from imitation and mimicry in that it involves the invention of intentional representations. ..Mimesis is not absolutely tied to external communication.
''Mimēsis'' is a concept, now popular again in academic discussion, that was particularly prevalent in Plato's works, and within Aristotle, it is discussed mainly in the ''Poetics''. In Michael Davis's account of the theory of man in this work.
It is the distinctive feature of human action, that whenever we choose what we do, we imagine an action for ourselves as though we were inspecting it from the outside. Intentions are nothing more than imagined actions, internalizings of the external. All action is therefore imitation of action; it is poetic...
Donald like Plato (and Aristotle, especially in ''On Memory and Recollection''), emphasizes the peculiarity in humans of voluntary initiation of a search through one's mental world. The ancient Greek ''anamnēsis'', normally translated as "recollection" was opposed to ''mneme'' or ''memory''. Memory, shared with some animals, requires a consciousness not only of what happened in the past, but also ''that'' something happened in the past, which is in other words a kind of ''eikasia'' "...but nothing except man is able to recollect." Recollection is a deliberate effort to search for and recapture something once known. Klein writes that, "To become aware of our having forgotten something means to begin recollecting." Donald calls the same thing ''autocueing'', which he explains as follows: "Mimetic acts are reproducible on the basis of internal, self-generated cues. This permits voluntary recall of mimetic representations, without the aid of external cues – probably the earliest form of representational ''thinking''." In a celebrated paper in modern times, the fantasy author and philologist J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in his essay "On Fairy Stories" that the terms "fantasy" and "enchantment" are connected to not only "....the satisfaction of certain primordial human desires...." but also "...the origin of language and of the mind".


Logical reasoning methods and argumentation

A subdivision of
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

philosophy
is
logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize Validity (logic), valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents statements and ar ...

logic
. Logic is the study of reasoning. Looking at logical categorizations of different types of reasoning, the traditional main division made in philosophy is between
deductive reasoning Deductive reasoning, also deductive logic, is the process of reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making ...
and
inductive reasoning Inductive reasoning is a method of reasoning Reason is the capacity of Consciousness, consciously making sense of things, applying logic, and adapting or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. It ...
. Logic, Formal logic has been described as ''the science of deduction''. The study of inductive reasoning is generally carried out within the field known as informal logic or critical thinking.


Deductive reasoning

Deduction is a form of reasoning in which a conclusion follows necessarily from the stated premises. A deduction is also the conclusion reached by a deductive reasoning process. One classic example of deductive reasoning is that found in
syllogism A syllogism ( grc-gre, συλλογισμός, ''syllogismos'', 'conclusion, inference') is a kind of logical argument In logic and philosophy, an argument is a series of statements (in a natural language), called the premises or premisses (bo ...
s like the following: * Premise 1: All humans are mortal. * Premise 2: Socrates is a human. * Conclusion: Socrates is mortal. The reasoning in this argument is deductively Validity (logic), valid because there is no way in which the premises, 1 and 2, could be true and the conclusion, 3, be false.


Inductive reasoning

Induction is a form of inference producing propositions about unobserved objects or types, either specifically or generally, based on previous observation. It is used to ascribe category of being, properties or relations to objects or type (metaphysics), types based on event (philosophy), previous observations or experiences, or to formulate general statements or law (principle), laws based on limited observations of recurring phenomenal patterns. Inductive reasoning contrasts strongly with deductive reasoning in that, even in the best, or strongest, cases of inductive reasoning, the truth of the premises does not guarantee the truth of the conclusion. Instead, the conclusion of an inductive argument follows with some degree of probability. Relatedly, the conclusion of an inductive argument contains more information than is already contained in the premises. Thus, this method of reasoning is ampliative. A classic example of inductive reasoning comes from the empiricist
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) Cranston, Maurice, and Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 250px, A sign on a beach ...

David Hume
: * Premise: The sun has risen in the east every morning up until now. * Conclusion: The sun will also rise in the east tomorrow.


Analogical reasoning

Analogical reasoning is a form of inductive reasoning from a particular to a particular. It is often used in case-based reasoning, especially legal reasoning. An example follows: * Premise 1: Socrates is human and mortal. * Premise 2: Plato is human. * Conclusion: Plato is mortal. Analogical reasoning is a weaker form of inductive reasoning from a single example, because inductive reasoning typically uses a large number of examples to reason from the particular to the general. Analogical reasoning often leads to wrong conclusions. For example: * Premise 1: Socrates is human and male. * Premise 2: Ada Lovelace is human. * Conclusion: Therefore Ada Lovelace is male.


Abductive reasoning

Abductive reasoning, or argument to the best explanation, is a form of reasoning that doesn't fit in deductive or inductive, since it starts with incomplete set of observations and proceeds with likely possible explanations so the conclusion in an abductive argument does not follow with certainty from its premises and concerns something unobserved. What distinguishes abduction from the other forms of reasoning is an attempt to favour one conclusion above others, by subjective judgement or attempting to falsify alternative explanations or by demonstrating the likelihood of the favoured conclusion, given a set of more or less disputable assumptions. For example, when a patient displays certain symptoms, there might be various possible causes, but one of these is preferred above others as being more probable.


Fallacious reasoning

Flawed reasoning in arguments is known as fallacy, fallacious reasoning. Bad reasoning within arguments can be because it commits either a formal fallacy or an informal fallacy. Formal fallacies occur when there is a problem with the form, or structure, of the argument. The word "formal" refers to this link to the ''form'' of the argument. An argument that contains a formal fallacy will always be invalid. An informal fallacy is an error in reasoning that occurs due to a problem with the ''content'', rather than mere ''structure'', of the argument.


Traditional problems raised concerning reason

Philosophy is sometimes described as a life of reason, with normal human reason pursued in a more consistent and dedicated way than usual. Two categories of problem concerning reason have long been discussed by philosophers concerning reason, essentially being reasonings about reasoning itself as a human aim, or philosophizing about philosophizing. The first question is concerning whether we can be confident that reason can achieve knowledge of
truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In ...

truth
better than other ways of trying to achieve such knowledge. The other question is whether a life of reason, a life that aims to be guided by reason, can be expected to achieve a eudaimonia, happy life more so than other ways of life (whether such a life of reason results in knowledge or not).


Reason versus truth, and "first principles"

Since classical antiquity, classical times a question has remained constant in philosophical debate (which is sometimes seen as a conflict between movements called Platonism and Aristotelianism) concerning the role of reason in confirming
truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In ...

truth
. People use logic, deductive reasoning, deduction, and inductive reasoning, induction, to reach conclusions they think are true. Conclusions reached in this way are considered, according to Aristotle, more certain than sense perceptions on their own. On the other hand, if such reasoned conclusions are only built originally upon a foundation of sense perceptions, then, our most logical conclusions can never be said to be certain because they are built upon the very same fallible perceptions they seek to better. This leads to the question of what types of first principles, or starting points of reasoning, are available for someone seeking to come to true conclusions. In Greek, "first principles" are ''Arche, archai'', "starting points", and the faculty used to perceive them is sometimes referred to in Aristotle and Plato as ''
nous ''Nous'' (, ), sometimes equated to intellect In the study of the human mind, intellect refers to, describes, and identifies the ability of the human mind to reach correct conclusions about what is true True most commonly refers to truth ...

nous
'' which was close in meaning to ''awareness'' or ''
consciousness Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience or awareness of internal and external existence. Despite millennia of analyses, definitions, explanations and debates by philosophers and scientists, consciousness remains puzzling and controversial ...

consciousness
''. Empiricism (sometimes associated with Aristotle but more correctly associated with Great Britain, British philosophers such as
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
and
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) Cranston, Maurice, and Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 250px, A sign on a beach ...

David Hume
, as well as their ancient equivalents such as Democritus) asserts that sensory impressions are the only available starting points for reasoning and attempting to attain truth. This approach always leads to the controversial conclusion that absolute knowledge is not attainable. Idealism, (associated with Plato and his school), claims that there is a "higher" reality, from which certain people can directly arrive at truth without needing to rely only upon the senses, and that this higher reality is therefore the primary source of truth. Philosophers such as
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

Plato
,
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
, Al-Farabi,
Avicenna Ibn Sina ( fa, ابن سینا), also known as Abu Ali Sina (), Pur Sina (), and often known in the West as Avicenna (;  – June 1037), was a Persian polymath who is regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, t ...

Avicenna
,
Averroes Ibn Rushd ( ar, ; full name Image:FML names-2.png, 300px, First/given, middle and last/family/surname with John Fitzgerald Kennedy as example. This shows a structure typical for the Anglosphere, among others. Other cultures use other struc ...

Averroes
, Maimonides, Aquinas and Hegel are sometimes said to have argued that reason must be fixed and discoverable—perhaps by dialectic, analysis, or study. In the vision of these thinkers, reason is divine or at least has divine attributes. Such an approach allowed religious philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas and Étienne Gilson to try to show that reason and revelation are compatible. According to Hegel, "...the only thought which Philosophy brings with it to the contemplation of History, is the simple conception of reason; that reason is the Sovereign of the World; that the history of the world, therefore, presents us with a rational process." Since the 17th century rationalists, reason has often been taken to be a subjectivity, subjective faculty, or rather the unaided ability (pure reason) to form concepts. For Descartes, Spinoza and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Leibniz, this was associated with
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...
.
Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about r ...

Kant
attempted to show that pure reason could form concepts (time and space) that are the conditions of experience. Kant made his argument in opposition to Hume, who denied that reason had any role to play in experience.


Reason versus emotion or passion

After Plato and Aristotle, western literature often treated reason as being the faculty that trained the passions and appetites. Stoic philosophy, by contrast, claimed most emotions were merely false judgements. According to the stoics the only good is virtue, and the only evil is vice, therefore emotions that judged things other than vice to be bad (such as fear or distress), or things other than virtue to be good (such as greed) were simply false judgements and should be discarded (though positive emotions based on true judgements, such as kindness, were acceptable). After the critiques of reason in the early Enlightenment the appetites were rarely discussed or conflated with the passions. Some Enlightenment camps took after the Stoics to say Reason should oppose Passion rather than order it, while others like the Romantics believed that Passion displaces Reason, as in the maxim "follow your heart". Reason has been seen as cold, an "enemy of mystery and ambiguity", a slave, or judge, of the passions, notably in the work of
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) Cranston, Maurice, and Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 250px, A sign on a beach ...

David Hume
, and more recently of Freud. Reasoning which claims that the object of a desire is demanded by logic alone is called ''Rationalization (making excuses), rationalization''. Rousseau first proposed, in his second ''Discourse on Inequality, Discourse'', that reason and political life is not natural and possibly harmful to mankind. He asked what really can be said about what is natural to mankind. What, other than reason and civil society, "best suits his constitution"? Rousseau saw "two principles prior to reason" in human nature. First we hold an intense interest in our own well-being. Secondly we object to the suffering or death of any sentient being, especially one like ourselves. These two passions lead us to desire more than we could achieve. We become dependent upon each other, and on relationships of authority and obedience. This effectively puts the human race into slavery. Rousseau says that he almost dares to assert that nature does not destine men to be healthy. According to Richard Velkley, "Rousseau outlines certain programs of rational self-correction, most notably the political legislation of the ''The Social Contract, Contrat Social'' and the moral education in ''Emile: or, On Education, Émile''. All the same, Rousseau understands such corrections to be only ameliorations of an essentially unsatisfactory condition, that of socially and intellectually corrupted humanity." This quandary presented by Rousseau led to
Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about r ...

Kant
's new way of justifying reason as freedom to create good and evil. These therefore are not to be blamed on nature or God. In various ways, German Idealism after Kant, and major later figures such Nietzsche, Bergson, Husserl, Max Scheler, Scheler, and Heidegger, remain preoccupied with problems coming from the metaphysical demands or ''urges'' of ''reason''. The influence of Rousseau and these later writers is also large upon art and politics. Many writers (such as Nikos Kazantzakis) extol passion and disparage reason. In politics modern nationalism comes from Rousseau's argument that rationalist cosmopolitanism brings man ever further from his natural state. Another view on reason and emotion was proposed in the 1994 book titled ''Descartes' Error'' by Antonio Damasio. In it, Damasio presents the "Somatic marker hypothesis, Somatic Marker Hypothesis" which states that emotions guide behavior and decision-making. Damasio argues that these somatic markers (known collectively as "gut feelings") are "intuitive signals" that direct our decision making processes in a certain way that cannot be solved with rationality alone. Damasio further argues that rationality requires emotional input in order to function.


Reason versus faith or tradition

There are many religious traditions, some of which are explicitly Fideism, fideist and others of which claim varying degrees of rationalism. Secular critics sometimes accuse all religious adherents of irrationality, since they claim such adherents are guilty of ignoring, suppressing, or forbidding some kinds of reasoning concerning some subjects (such as religious dogmas, moral taboos, etc.). Though the theology, theologies and religions such as Monotheism, classical monotheism typically do not admit to be irrationality, irrational, there is often a perceived conflict or tension between faith and
tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious ...

tradition
on the one hand, and reason on the other, as potentially competing sources of wisdom, law and
truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In ...

truth
. Religious adherents sometimes respond by arguing that faith and reason can be reconciled, or have different non-overlapping domains, or that critics engage in a similar kind of irrationalism: * ''Reconciliation'': Philosopher Alvin Plantinga argues that there is no real conflict between reason and classical theism because classical theism explains (among other things) why the universe is intelligible and why reason can successfully grasp it. * ''Non-overlapping magisteria'': Evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould argues that there need not be conflict between reason and religious belief because they are each authoritative in their own domain (or "magisterium"). If so, reason can work on those problems over which it has authority while other sources of knowledge or opinion can have authority on the big questions. * ''Tu quoque'': Philosophers Alasdair MacIntyre and argue that those critics of traditional religion who are adherents of Secularity, secular liberalism are also sometimes guilty of ignoring, suppressing, and forbidding some kinds of reasoning about subjects. Similarly, philosophers of science such as Paul Feyerabend, Paul Feyarabend argue that scientists sometimes ignore or suppress evidence contrary to the dominant paradigm. * ''Unification'': Theologian Joseph Ratzinger, later Benedict XVI, asserted that "Christianity has understood itself as the religion of the Logos, as the religion according to reason," referring to John 1:Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, usually translated as "In the beginning was the Word (Logos)." Thus, he said that the Christian faith is "open to all that is truly rational", and that the rationality of Western Enlightenment "is of Christian origin". Some commentators have claimed that Western culture, Western civilization can be almost defined by its serious testing of the limits of tension between "unaided" reason and faith in "revelation, revealed" truths—figuratively summarized as Athens and Jerusalem, respectively. Leo Strauss spoke of a "Greater Western world, West" that included all areas under the influence of the tension between Greek rationalism and Abrahamic revelation, including the Muslim lands. He was particularly influenced by the great Islamic philosophy, Muslim philosopher Farabi, Al-Farabi. To consider to what extent Eastern philosophy might have partaken of these important tensions, Strauss thought it best to consider whether dharma or tao may be equivalent to Nature (philosophy), Nature (by which we mean ''physis'' in Greek). According to Strauss the beginning of philosophy involved the "discovery or invention of nature" and the "pre-philosophical equivalent of nature" was supplied by "such notions as 'custom' or 'ways, which appear to be ''really universal in all times and places''. The philosophical concept of nature or natures as a way of understanding ''archai'' (first principles of knowledge) brought about a peculiar tension between reasoning on the one hand, and tradition or faith on the other. Although there is this special history of debate concerning reason and faith in the Islamic, Christian and Jewish traditions, the pursuit of reason is sometimes argued to be compatible with the other practice of other religions of a different nature, such as Hinduism, because they do not define their tenets in such an absolute way.


Reason in particular fields of study


Psychology and cognitive science

Scientific research into reasoning is carried out within the fields of psychology and cognitive science. Psychologists attempt to determine whether or not people are capable of rational thought in a number of different circumstances. Assessing how well someone engages in reasoning is the project of determining the extent to which the person is
rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογι ...

rational
or acts rationally. It is a key research question in the psychology of reasoning and cognitive science of reasoning. Rationality is often divided into its respective Rationality#Theoretical and practical rationality, theoretical and practical counterparts.


Behavioral experiments on human reasoning

Experimental cognitive psychologists carry out research on reasoning behaviour. Such research may focus, for example, on how people perform on tests of reasoning such as Intelligence tests, intelligence or IQ tests, or on how well people's reasoning matches ideals set by logic (see, for example, the Wason test). Experiments examine how people make inferences from conditionals e.g., ''If A then B'' and how they make inferences about alternatives, e.g., ''A or else B''. They test whether people can make valid deductions about spatial and temporal relations, e.g., ''A is to the left of B'', or ''A happens after B'', and about quantified assertions, e.g., ''All the A are B''. Experiments investigate how people make inferences about factual situations, hypothetical possibilities, probabilities, and counterfactual thinking, counterfactual situations.


Developmental studies of children's reasoning

Developmental psychologists investigate the development of reasoning from birth to adulthood. Piaget's theory of cognitive development was the first complete theory of reasoning development. Subsequently, several alternative theories were proposed, including the neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development.


Neuroscience of reasoning

The biological functioning of the brain is studied by neurophysiologists, Cognitive neuroscience, cognitive neuroscientists and neuropsychologists. Research in this area includes research into the structure and function of normally functioning brains, and of damaged or otherwise unusual brains. In addition to carrying out research into reasoning, some psychologists, for example, clinical psychologists and psychotherapists work to alter people's reasoning habits when they are unhelpful.


Computer science


Automated reasoning

In artificial intelligence and computer science, scientists study and use
automated reasoning Automation describes a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes. Human intervention is reduced by predetermining decision criteria, subprocess relationships, and related actions — and embodying those predeterm ...
for diverse applications including automated theorem proving the formal semantics of programming languages, and formal specification in software engineering.


Meta-reasoning

Meta-reasoning is reasoning about reasoning. In computer science, a system performs meta-reasoning when it is reasoning about its own operation. This requires a programming language capable of reflection (computer science), reflection, the ability to observe and modify its own structure and behaviour.


Evolution of reason

A species could benefit greatly from better abilities to reason about, predict and understand the world. French social and cognitive scientists Dan Sperber and Hugo Mercier argue that there could have been other forces driving the evolution of reason. They point out that reasoning is very difficult for humans to do effectively, and that it is hard for individuals to doubt their own beliefs (confirmation bias). Reasoning is most effective when it is done as a collective – as demonstrated by the success of projects like
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...

science
. They suggest that there are not just individual, but group selection pressures at play. Any group that managed to find ways of reasoning effectively would reap benefits for all its members, increasing their fitness (biology), fitness. This could also help explain why humans, according to Sperber, are not optimized to reason effectively alone. Their argumentative theory of reasoning claims that reason may have more to do with winning arguments than with the search for the truth.


Reason in political philosophy and ethics

Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
famously described reason (with language) as a part of
human nature Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or wont as a humorous and formal term) is a routine of behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British ...

human nature
, which means that it is best for humans to live "politically" meaning in communities of about the size and type of a small city state (''polis'' in Greek). For example...
It is clear, then, that a human being is more of a political [''politikon'' = of the ''polis''] animal [''zōion''] than is any bee or than any of those animals that live in herds. For nature, as we say, makes nothing in vain, and humans are the only animals who possess reasoned speech [''logos'']. Voice, of course, serves to indicate what is painful and pleasant; that is why it is also found in other animals, because their nature has reached the point where they can perceive what is painful and pleasant and express these to each other. But speech [''logos''] serves to make plain what is advantageous and harmful and so also what is just and unjust. For it is a peculiarity of humans, in contrast to the other animals, to have perception of good and bad, just and unjust, and the like; and the community in these things makes a household or city [''polis'']. ..By nature, then, the drive for such a community exists in everyone, but the first to set one up is responsible for things of very great goodness. For as humans are the best of all animals when perfected, so they are the worst when divorced from law and right. The reason is that injustice is most difficult to deal with when furnished with weapons, and the weapons a human being has are meant by nature to go along with prudence and virtue, but it is only too possible to turn them to contrary uses. Consequently, if a human being lacks virtue, he is the most unholy and savage thing, and when it comes to sex and food, the worst. But justice is something political [to do with the ''polis''], for right is the arrangement of the political community, and right is discrimination of what is just. (Aristotle's Politics 1253a 1.2. Peter Simpson's translation, with Greek terms inserted in square brackets.)
The concept of human nature being fixed in this way, implied, in other words, that we can define what type of community is always best for people. This argument has remained a central argument in all political, ethical and moral thinking since then, and has become especially controversial since firstly Rousseau's Second Discourse, and secondly, the Theory of Evolution. Already in Aristotle there was an awareness that the ''polis'' had not always existed and had needed to be invented or developed by humans themselves. The household came first, and the first villages and cities were just extensions of that, with the first cities being run as if they were still families with Kings acting like fathers.Politics I.2.1252b15
Friendship [''philia''] seems to prevail [in] man and woman according to
nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...

nature
[''kata phusin'']; for people are by nature [''tēi phusei''] pairing [''sunduastikon''] more than political [''politikon'' = of the ''polis''], in as much as the household [''oikos''] is prior [''proteron'' = earlier] and more necessary than the ''polis'' and making children is more common [''koinoteron''] with the animals. In the other animals, community [''koinōnia''] goes no further than this, but people live together [''sumoikousin''] not only for the sake of making children, but also for the things for life; for from the start the functions [''erga''] are divided, and are different [for] man and woman. Thus they supply each other, putting their own into the common [''eis to koinon'']. It is for these [reasons] that both utility [''chrēsimon''] and pleasure [''hēdu''] seem to be found in this kind of friendship. (Nicomachean Ethics, VIII.12.1162a. Rough literal translation with Greek terms shown in square brackets.)
Rousseau in his Second Discourse finally took the shocking step of claiming that this traditional account has things in reverse: with reason, language and rationally organized communities all having developed over a long period of time merely as a result of the fact that some habits of cooperation were found to solve certain types of problems, and that once such cooperation became more important, it forced people to develop increasingly complex cooperation—often only to defend themselves from each other. In other words, according to Rousseau, reason, language and rational community did not arise because of any conscious decision or plan by humans or gods, nor because of any pre-existing human nature. As a result, he claimed, living together in rationally organized communities like modern humans is a development with many negative aspects compared to the original state of man as an ape. If anything is specifically human in this theory, it is the flexibility and adaptability of humans. This view of the animal origins of distinctive human characteristics later received support from Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution. The two competing theories concerning the origins of reason are relevant to political and ethical thought because, according to the Aristotelian theory, a best way of living together exists independently of historical circumstances. According to Rousseau, we should even doubt that reason, language and politics are a good thing, as opposed to being simply the best option given the particular course of events that lead to today. Rousseau's theory, that human nature is malleable rather than fixed, is often taken to imply, for example by Karl Marx, a wider range of possible ways of living together than traditionally known. However, while Rousseau's initial impact encouraged bloody revolutions against traditional politics, including both the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution (1917), Russian Revolution, his own conclusions about the best forms of community seem to have been remarkably classical, in favor of city-states such as Geneva, and Arcadia (utopia), rural living.


See also

* Argument * Argumentation theory * Confirmation bias * Conformity * Critical thinking * Logic and rationality * Outline of thought – topic tree that identifies many types of thoughts/thinking, types of reasoning, aspects of thought, related fields, and more. * Outline of human intelligence – topic tree presenting the traits, capacities, models, and research fields of human intelligence, and more. * Common sense


References


Further reading

* * Beer, Francis A., "Words of Reason", ''Political Communication'' 11 (Summer, 1994): 185–201. * * Swami Tripurari, Tripurari, Swami,
On Faith and Reason
',
The Harmonist
', May 27, 2009. {{Authority control Reasoning, Age of Enlightenment Cognition Concepts in epistemology Concepts in ethics Concepts in logic Concepts in metaphilosophy Concepts in the philosophy of mind Concepts in the philosophy of science Critical thinking Idealism Knowledge Metaphysics of mind Ontology Philosophical logic Philosophy of logic Problem solving skills Rationalism Truth Virtue