virus: reason is the heart of faith

Reed Konsler (
Thu, 28 Jan 1999 14:37:04 -0500

carlw, TheHermit:
>That day that someone chooses to defy logic, you should
>cease discussion with them, as discussion is not possible
>in the absense of logic. Choosing to ignore reason means
>that you cannot have a meaningful discussion, as words
>then no longer are vehicles for meaning. It is only through
>logic and reason that we can establish meaning to ourselves,
>never mind the more complicated issues of shared meanings
>through which communication occurs.A person who
>abandon's logic and reason has no ability to hold discourse
>as these are fundamental to discourse. So if a person who
>is communicating claims to have abandoned logic and
>reason it can only mean that they are liars. Communicating
>with liars can be useful in information and game theory,
>but is seldom profitable in real life. As you know they are
>liars, they will never convince you of anything. Suspecting
>that you know that they are liars means that you will never
>convince them of anything. So you are best wasting time
>and effort.


I strongly support the idea that logic should serve as the
principle tool towards the goal of communication.
Communication is desireable, and it is much more satisfying
when the communication is meaningful.  The critical concept
here is that logic should serve meaningful communication,
and not the reverse.

Logic is not a machette one uses to hack through a jungle
of discourse in search of El Dorado, the golden city of truth.
Reason is not a razor cutting ideas into bloody chunks.
Logic is not a weapon.

Unfortunately, people often use it thus.  Do you find yourself
mentally fondling your lists of fallacies like a gun collector?
Are you eager to "unleash" that analytical power to strike
down the enemy?  I have felt that way at times.

Do you gain satisfaction from an attack?  When you see a
"straw man", do you feel a rush?  Do you find that you feel
more alive in the process of disecting someone elses arguments?
I have, I am sorry to admit.

Can you imagine that someone with that taste for blood might
be looking for targets to lock horns with?  Might that kind of
person look for targets where none exist?  I have.

I'm not presenting a complete arguement here, I'm asking you
to imagine the possibility that using the tool might become an
end in itself...that a person might aqcuire an addiction to

How would one know it was addiction?  As Richard pointed out
eariler, addiction implies a lack of mastery.  What is the purpose
of logic?

Can we agree that the purpose of logic is to facilitate meaningful
communication?  What would be the caracteristics of successful
application of that principle?

We should feel good (experience satisfaction) when we agree and
feel bad when we disagree.  We should feel especially bad when
we have a lengthy conversation and still "can't understand how
the other person could think X" or "can't imagine ever being
like that".

But there have been times when I've felt a rush, a real emotional
boost "in the heat of battle".  That's why it's called a "flame war"
right?  When conversations shift from constructive to mutually
destructive I begin to wonder why now.  It frightens me when
a tool we build in search of good, meaningful communication
seems to become an end in itself...when the <logic> memes fail
to serve the <communication> memes.

It's a military coup de'ta of the mind.

If you can imagine that, you can understand why someone might
"abandon logic".  It isn't that the person is truely irrational or
really ready to expunge the <logic> memes from their mind.
What happens is, in the course of communication, the use of
logic turns from a good, helpful, satisfying tool into a sinister,
destructive weapon.  If that happens one too many times, the person
begins to associate that ill feeling of being attacked with <logic>.
We avoid what is painful, and so eventually we might abandon
<logic> if it is used to bite us one too many times.

The funny thing is, that you are absolutely right:  all meaningful
communication is logical.  An understanding of logic can help
everyone build more and more meaningful communication with
each other.

That is why it is so critical that those of us who have some
understanding of logic meticulously avoid using it as a weapon,
or describing it as an irresitable force.  Every logical attack
we make turns the target away from their best tool towards
creating a fulfilling life.  Logic is not a harsh, demanding master.
Reason is not a stern parent which must be obeyed.

This is the wrong imagery.

Logic is the first principle of a nuturing family.  Reason is the
basis of sharing and building mutual trust.  In that sense, logic
is mother of faith.  Not the arbitrary, dogmatic, faith which we
all abhor so much...but the reasonable faith built from many
many successful interactions...the faith inherent in friendships
which allow us to express ourselves without fear.  The deepest,
most satisfying and most meaningful communications spring
from the warm beating heart of reason.

Logic is a gift, not a burden.  The question ought never to be
"should we abandon reason" but instead "why would we want
to"?  Unfortunately, sometimes good tools are put to ill uses.
The result is always insanity.  Luckily, such things can be
cured with time and effort.


PS:  Why do you use the pseudonym "TheHermit"?  What
attracts you to that word?  In my mind it conjures images
of isolation, certianly the antithesis of meaningful
communication.  How do you think about it?

  Reed Konsler