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flutherother's avatar

If everyone listened to reason would the world become a perfect place?

Asked by flutherother (28383points) December 28th, 2010

This question was inspired by another thread on Fluther that made me wonder about reason, to what extent it influences us and to what degree it would benefit mankind if we could all act more reasonably.

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45 Answers

HungryGuy's avatar

Yes. Or at least, pretty close, I think :-)

Neurotic_David's avatar

Reasonable by whose measure? :) Reason, social mores, ethics, fairness—these are all subjective, “in the eye of the beholder” as it were.

One man’s reason is another man’s crazy. :)

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Neurotic_David You said it before I could!

wundayatta's avatar

I can solve this. If you listen to my reason, perfection will sweep the world!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Noooo no no no noooo @wundayatta! They need to listen to MY reason! Mine is the only REAL reason!

HungryGuy's avatar

By reason, I assumed that the OP meant logic and critical thinking, and basing their statements and opinions on valid arguments and verifiable facts rather than fallacies, etc., etc.

bkcunningham's avatar

@flutherother if everyone listened to reason…Who is reason and where can I find them to hear this person speak?

kess's avatar

Yes it would be perfection actually…

Truth always point reason,
And without Truth reason has no voice.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, there would be no Fluther.

flutherother's avatar

@bkcunningham We live in a crazy world but have you never heard of the light of reason? Would you not know it if you heard it?

marinelife's avatar

No, because everyone’s definition of reason is different.

gondwanalon's avatar

No because a talented debater can skillfully argue any side of an issue using sound reasoning.

bkcunningham's avatar

@flutherother I was just teasing and trying to be cute with a play on words.

wundayatta's avatar

Even if we’re talking evidence-based action, perfection will not sweep the world. We simply do not know enough, and what’s more, we never will know enough to be able to predict the consequences of every action and to reconcile the interests of all people. Can. Not. Do. It.

Unless, as I said above, you listen to my reason. @Dutchess_III is a nice person, and her reason is very good, but still, not quite good enough.;-)

Dutchess_III's avatar

My reasons are perfect, @wundayatta! And I got the wiki to back it up!”

wundayatta's avatar

I gotta bow down before superior reason, @Dutchess_III. Long may you waver!

Kardamom's avatar

There really isn’t a definition of reasonable-ness. One man’s common sense is another man’s blasphemy. Even in my own family, I have relatives who I love, who believe in certain ideas and principles that in my opinion are dangerous, cruel and foolish. I’m sure she thinks my beliefs, ideas and principles are terrible and un-reasonable too. Even though we were raised in a similar area, with a similar background and with similar ideals, we couldn’t be more different. So you can imagine that people in countries other than ours, practicing religions (or lack thereof) that are different than ours and and being raised with philosophies that clash with ours really cannot have a common definition with us as to what reasonable-ness is.

Harold's avatar

Reason to one person is foolishness to another. There is no such thing as universal reason.

flutherother's avatar

@Harold There is such a thing as reason, that is how we decide what is foolish. Good reasoning may not convince everyone but it can create a consensus.

HungryGuy's avatar

@Harold and @marinelife@flutherother is correct. There are such things as logic and reason. Yes, our collection of facts of how the physical universe operate is incomplete. For that reason, even if everybody based their opinions and actions on reason, it would not produce a perfect world, but it be a tremendous improvement.

starsofeight's avatar

Reason could well become the focal point for faithful adoration, and frustrated debate -

but, the ‘church of reason’ has no one nailed to the cross.

guihurts's avatar

Maybe, there’s a lot of different reasons.

YARNLADY's avatar

Using reason is a good place to start, but people would also have to be willing to act in their own best interest, and very few are willing to do that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@YARNLADY You mean they’d need to act regardless of their own best interests….?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Listening to reason would be a darn good start.
Understanding it would be even better.
Being able to use it would be better still.

But the world will never be perfect because not everyone has the same idea of perfection.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Dutchess_III No, acting in one’s best interest is usually acting for the greater good. Most people don’t really understand that what is best for them is what is best for everyone.

It’s very similar to the rule, to love others, you must learn to love yourself, which is apparently a very difficult concept for most people.

Nullo's avatar

“Reason” applies to a broad selection of mutually incompatible ideologies.

everephebe's avatar

Think about it this way, would you want to live on Vulcan?

YARNLADY's avatar

@everephebe I consider the Vulcan society to be a utopia I would love to be part of.

everephebe's avatar

Raises eyebrow. You wouldn’t be the only one.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When did Vulcans sneak in here?

everephebe's avatar

Considering the lifespan of a Vulcan, it is illogical to suggest that Vulcans snuck in. I propose an alternative theory: the Vulcans were here all along, but we were not alerted to their presence until recently.

mattbrowne's avatar

The concept of “listening” to reason is an illusion. Humans listen to their emotions and most of this happens unconsciously.

flutherother's avatar

@mattbrowne Human beings are a jumble of emotions and not much else but reason is important as it helps us put our emotions in order and gives us some control over them.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Is Jelly Clause a Vulcan, Dad?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Evil woman @YARNLADY ( ! You’re a Wisdmr, aren’t you!!!!-)

mattbrowne's avatar

@flutherother – I said nothing about a jumble of emotions. When we rely on intuition in most cases our unconscious mind does a great job processing 10 million bits every second. But there’s unconscious bias we are not aware of. This unconscious bias influences what we perceive as reason. There is no such thing as objective objectivity.

Instead of worshiping an idealized form of reason waiting for a perfect world, we should acknowledge our mental limitations and cultivate intellectual humility.

flutherother's avatar

@mattbrowne A large proportion of those 10 million bits will be emotions and I would agree that there is no right and no wrong way for this to be processed. I think it is impossible to be truly objective and that we can’t even define what objectivity might be. As for creating a perfect world through reason, well I was just asking the question. I personally think it is making a big mistake to think that this might be possible.

Reason is limited but it is not useless and I don’t know how you can say that listening to reason is an illusion when we all do it all of the time. Human diplomacy, law, science and government are all founded upon reason. It was reasoning that created the Constitution of the United States and it is reasoning that will keep it alive. Reason might never take us to the Promised Land but discarding reason will quickly take us in the opposite direction.

Kardamom's avatar

@flutherother but it’s only one country’s version of reason. Iraq and Iran certainly do not find our Constitution reasonable in any way. I think that is what @mattbrowne is trying to point out. Reason is completely subjective. You sometimes get lucky when a somewhat homogenous group picks out a brand of reason (that they like). It makes life easier, but not always better. I think the U.S. got pretty lucky with the flavor of reason that they picked out of the box.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@mattbrowne

This has been bugging me for an hour or so until duh me! I finally figured out what it was that bothered me about the statement. If there really is unconscious bias we are not aware of, then how you you know about it?

mattbrowne's avatar

@CyanoticWasp – Neuroscientists do have the tools to investigate the matter. We can be made aware of their research findings. But this still means that we cannot become aware of how our own unconscious bias looks like about a particular matter. At least not in a direct way and also not right away.

flutherother's avatar

@Kardamom The United States Constitution differs from that of other countries but that doesn’t mean that people in those countries will think it unreasonable. They may disagree with its premises but a majority of human beings will accept that it is an honest and considered attempt at creating a system of government that works.

Human beings are much the same the world over and can agree on the principles necessary for good government. Reasoning isn’t completely subjective and systems of government aren’t ‘picked out of a box’ they are created by human reason. To say that reason is completely subjective makes dialogue with our fellow man impossible and military ‘solutions’ inevitable.

Reason has its limits but when we give up on reason we are giving up on civilization or as Christopher Hitchens put it; “if the rights of man are to be upheld in a dark time, we shall require an age of reason.”

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