Reason is often considered to be the defining feature of humanity. Humans have been qualifying reason, categorizing forms of it, criticizing failures of it and comparing it with other epistemologies like faith and other capacities like emotion seemingly forever.


We have divided reason into logical, deductive, inductive, abductive, intuitive and verbal. We’ve discovered, named and delineated dozens of formal and informal fallacies which plague our reasoning and identified a myriad of cognitive biases. We’ve elevated reason to the highest human faculty like Plato or wondered if we can even do it at all like Descartes. We’ve asked whether reason is really the best way to establish truth, whether our senses and emotions serve it or hinder it and whether it can make us happy or good.


In recent years, neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists have confirmed our suspicions that we’re not very good at reasoning and shown that, in fact, we are driven primarily by emotions and intuitions.


Reasoning evolved to help us maximize the benefits of our intuitions but most often this means rationalizing and justifying what the intuitions make us want to do.


What we have, Haidt tells us, is not an inner scientist but an inner lawyer.


It is particularly difficult to change our minds. The psychiatrist, Karl Menninger showed that primitive parts of our brains reward us when we have our existing beliefs confirmed and react to new ideas as if they are dangers. He said “The powerful dorsolateral prefrontal cortex can override these more primitive brain centers and assert reason and logic, but it is slow to act and requires a great deal of determination and effort to do so. Hence, it is fundamentally unnatural and uncomfortable to change our minds, and this is reflected in the way our brains work."(In d’Ancona)


The research of Jonathan Haidt would reach the same conclusion. “Each individual reasoner is really good at one thing: finding evidence to support the position he or she already holds…But if you put individuals together in the right way, such that some individuals can use their reasoning powers to disconfirm the claims of others, and all individuals feel some common bond or shared fate that allows them to interact civilly, you can create a group that ends up producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system. This is why it’s so important to have intellectual and ideological diversity." In this way, the good ideas win out and the bad get marginalized.


Postmodernism was to a large extent an attempt to appreciate a wider range of human experience particularly that of marginalized groups, something which modernism did not do sufficiently. However, it was cynical, fragmented, ambiguous and superficial. A common criticism of postmodernism is that it fails to appreciate the human need for metanarratives — large, overarching explanations that provide unity, purpose and satisfaction.


讀完:December 10, 2017 at 08:44PM|來源:URL