By MIAN AKHLAQ-UR-RAHMAN
Idling with the plants in the rear-garden of my house, I noticed a rook plucking hard at a piece of bread, hardened and dried by the heat of the sun, unable to break it, morsel in its beak, the rook looked around and spotting the clay bowl that carried water for the birds, flew to it, sat on its edge and dropped the morsel of bread in the water; it kept pricking the morsel with its beak till the bread had softened enough to be eaten, then picking it, the rook came down upon the plain ground and began to eat the softened bread. The incident made me think that was it not a perfect example of problem solving capacity of the mind. The crow had a problem at hand when it found the piece of bread hard for its beak. It looked around for a solution and found it in water of whose softening qualities it knew and remembered from experience. It softened the bread in water and then ate it with its beak. What would we call it, Reasoning and what else but application of reason for the solution of a problem. Now, was the crow aware, reflectively and objectively, of this activity, or was it simply performing it on the basis of the objective experience that lay subjectively hidden in its mind, reflectively and objectively unknown, for reflective thinking is as yet thought to be only a human faculty. The crow was not aware reflectively of this activity of its mind; it was an instinctive application of reasoning, an innate faculty of mind, using the accumulated experience of existence residing in the organs and brains of the bird and animals, as instincts. Reasoning is an innate faculty of the existence, in birds and animals however its application is instinctive, while in humans, objective, and among humans in higher brains, it is both an objective and a reflective function.
Before existence began, the Creator laid down the road map with its ways, paths, processes, formulas, which the existence had to follow on the road of evolution. This road map is the Divine Reason. For all components of existence, minerals, plants, and animals, this was their Belief. It was the Divine Reason, their Belief and their code of conduct, and they followed it sincerely and devotedly, even when in reaction to the environment and to the play of the elements composing it they had to change, they were sincerely and unconsciously following the basic tenet of their code of conduct, dependence on adaptability to survive.
With our present set of knowledge, and mental faculties of inquiry it is impossible for us to conceive of the beginning of this universe, however the safe point we can start from is that somewhere sometime in the remoteness of time and space a unit of being developed a desire that ended its state of inertness, and desire being an action and an activity made it active. The desire developed into further desires and thus began to spread out a chain and matrices of desires and associated actions, with each desire taking a shape. Being was matter and the desire or idea arose in it, thus matter preceded idea. There was no time and space for the inert Being; after the Being, existence, became active it began to time and space itself. All the knowledge of existence even that which lies in the Universal Consciousness, Divine Reason, as a priories is the experience of the existence riding on its desires. Universal Consciousness began with the first desire, the first experience, and began to grow with every new desire and its associated experience, and began to spread out, reside, and be stored in the body of existence as universal accumulated experience of the whole existence, subjectively available for further guidance. After a long period of development and evolution, with the creation of humans, and with its individuation in humans, consciousness became an objective entity with every developed and reflective human being.
There were no a priories but matter and then a desire, all a priories that reside in our subconscious are the accumulated experiences of existence on the road of evolution. For example, roundness was not there as an a priori but was evolved by matter through experience to develop the possibility of movement in matter. Primary a priori notions of similarity, differentiation, and secondary ones like roundness and squareness are all a result of the experience of existence including formulas, like in what ratio oxygen will combine with hydrogen to form water, shapes, combinations, additions, subtractions, multiplications and divisions. This experience evolutionarily became a part of the Divine Reason, Universal Consciousness, which began to reside in elements, minerals, plants, and brainless animals, and in their seeds as the shapes, the colors, the forms, the behaviors and attitudes that they had to follow.
A priories is a relative term, the first and the original experiences of one are the a priories of the another, and even these a priories are a closed book, lying in a shelf., until and unless our sensual objective experience opens the book and puts to use this subjectivity, which is otherwise dormant.
The Divine Reason is spread out in every pore of this existence, and the whole existence, with all its components, follows this Reason, aware or unaware. Human Beings when they become conscious after they acquire the ability of reflecting on their selves begin to decipher objectively this Reason and apply it objectively for the solution of their problems and for the promotion of their welfare on this earth. Divine Reason is the matrix of life and anything which has lost its touch with this Reason seizes to exist, thus unreasonableness cannot exist. Intuition is not a mental process like all its cognitive processes but simply a peep of the mind into the Divine Reason sitting dormant in a corner of the human mind. It is a quantum jump. Intuition is the wisdom of the universe resulting from the accumulated experience of existence, and as this experience keeps on growing the intuition and its result the Universal Reason also keeps growing accordingly in quantum and quality, therefore whereas the present intuition may have the past intuitions as its parts it is different from the past intuitions.
In my personal life I have objectively experienced the application of this Divine Reason a number of times; some of the mentionable instances are, once a friend of mine got chest infection after he switched the brand of his cigarette, when he went to the doctor, the doctor simply advised him to take some antibiotics. A few days later, one afternoon, while resting, I was jolted out of my reverie with the thought that my friend has died of myocardial infarction caused by chest congestion. I got up and began to prepare to visit my friend to advise him on how to avoid this malady, but before I could take a step, I received the phone call from his house that he is in the hospital, I knew what had happened and it was so, and he died of it. In another instance a near relative of mine purchased a new house, and while we were together visiting the place it occurred to my mind that he will not come to live in that house because the life of his family that was to begin in that house was to be completely different from his way of life, and of the two lives, his and his family’s, the life of the family had to continue, all the children with all their different life stories to experience and live, and my friends story, a relic of the past did not fit in with those stories to be, so my inside said that he will not come to live in that house. A month before the family shifted to the new house, that elder relative of mine was diagnosed as a patient of severe hepatitis and liver cirrhosis in its last stages. He died a few days later in his old house. The third instance is a more glaring example of this Divine Reason, one morning as of habit, without putting on the lights of the room, I poured water from a bottle of cold water that I had fetched from the Frigidaire, in the mug on the floor by my bed and left it for the water to ease its coolness before drinking. After a while when I picked up the mug to drink, I spotted a young cockroach moving to and fro on the surface of water. I put the mug down and complained to my Creator, that already life is too short and there is too much work to be done, and as I do not drink cold water I will have to refill the mug again and leave the water to warm for another ten minutes, so I give up and I am not going to do anything, an answer, in spontaneous response appeared in my mind, “fool! How quickly you have got angry, get up switch on the lights and look. I got up switched on the lights picked up the mug and looked, and lo! the water in the mug was dense white and muddy, I had drunk milk in it a few days ago and had left it like that. If that young cockroach had not been there I would have drunk the dirty water in the dark and got sick.
When you throw a coin in the air, to decide on the head or tail, as the case might be, where you have failed by your good reason to decide, you without realizing confirm your belief in a Natural Reason, governing all the affairs of the universe, and which you take as more perfect than your own or any of your human compatriot. You believe that this reason is wiser, saner, and truer.
Reason is the only way to judge the truth and falsehood of an act or an idea. Reason is a secular application of a criterion that is unprejudiced and whose approach is not colored by any preconceived notion, ideology, dogma, or prejudicial alignment. Thus it judiciously judges and leads to truth and only truth. An act, idea, or notion can be compatible and acceptable to a political and social system but not reasonable, unless and until the respective politico-social system is reasonable in which case the act will be both at the same time reasonable and socially acceptable. The part of a system that is unreasonable will wither away, and the part that is reasonable will become a part of the future of the existence on its evolutionary march. Pure reason, untrammeled by political, social, and other human prejudices, is the truth, pure and unqualified. Only that thing is correct, politically, economically, socially, or in any other way, which is reasonably correct.
Built from the ingredients of earth and structured to play its role on it, the human body and its different organs were provided with reason respective to their functions. With elements of earth as its units of composition it required these to grow and live. The kidneys, a water pumping and filter plant, provided it with nutrients lying in the water; lungs provided it with the nutrients present in the air of the earth; stomach provided the nutrients from the edible minerals, plants, and animals; pancreas provided and regulated the supply of glucose; the liver after synthesis of the other products produced blood which the heart pumped to provide warmth to the whole body. This heat is life what I call Elan Vital, of existence. Brain provided the coordination and control required for the functioning of all the organs of the body. A medicine man has to decipher this reason to recommend treatments for ills, seeped in unreasonableness.
Reason is a conscious faculty of the mind, itself a faculty of the human brain. It has for its units the inputs received through the perceptual senses. It applies the a priori sense of natural factors and categories, the gained and acquired empirical experience, knowledge and the conjectural ability to identify the perceptual inputs and to categorize them, into conceptual categories too where the being is fairly advanced in intellect and knowledge.
After identification of the inputs into empirical and realistically material categories, conjectural and idealist categories, and conceptual categories, it applies the different methods of reasoning, calculation, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, deduction, induction, dialectical analysis, comparative synthesis, objective and empirical, and subjective and reflective analysis, to reach conclusions that in turn become the causes and bases of different human actions. This mentioned and described elaborate activity if carried out hidden within the subconscious and we know of it only from the decisions and conclusions that come to us in the shape of abstracted thoughts and actions, then it is hidden internal reasoning. In highly developed minds ideas and notions are also subjected to reasoning and if they successfully qualify the tests of reason then they are truths even if their objective existence is not available to our perceptual senses. For example, the Existence of God, A Creator, is in every way a reasonable belief even if we do not know God objectively. Creation and evolution are not two different processes, but different aspects of the same process, when we approach it objectively it is creation, and when we experience it subjectively it is evolution. Plato is right when he says that a belief however true it may be is not knowledge.
As every situation has a formidable number of aspects, all not being available for consideration at one time, even the most perfect person is likely to make a mistake or commit a fault sometime somewhere in his life career, and we the followers if we do not maintain a critical approach towards the sayings and expositions of the leader, blindly and passionately following his every word are likely to fall, rather certainly, into an insurmountable dark abyss of ignorance when in our blind pursuit we come across the moment of fault in the leaders life.
Reason is one of the ways of thinking. Under reason we have, inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning, mathematical reasoning, geometrical reasoning, logical reasoning, inferred reasoning, reflective reasoning, and intuitive reasoning. Speculative reason that seeks knowledge for the sake of knowledge becomes practical reason when men employ the knowledge gained by the speculative process.
Reason is drawing conclusions by analyzing perceptual and conceptual inputs. The perceptual inputs are the outside world available in the form of shapes, positions, odors, tastes, feels, and sounds. The conceptual inputs are the urges, like, thirst and hunger, of the body and the ideas and notions spread out in the world. The code that conducts the physical functions of the body and its different organs resides in the brain. Mind takes birth in a part of the brain, when the brain starts thinking, relating inside urges with the inputs of the outside world and all these with each other. The mind as it grows begins to influence, support or disturb the instinctive code, residing in a compartment of the brain, governing the physical functions of the body and its organs. Thinking develops into reasoning when it starts looking for and reaching conclusions. Mind when it reflects on itself and on its host and objectively becomes aware of their existences, it becomes consciousness. Inside urges as feels and perceptual inputs are units of thought, thinking begins when these units are put to use by the brain. Thinking began when the body after emerging from the womb, where its urges were being taken care of without any conscious effort, had to take care of itself with the help of the world around with which it now stood connected through its perceptual senses. Mind which takes birth with the first perceptual input and the first feel of the internal urges, the first units of thought, grows as the process of thinking grows from rudimentary form to develop into most sophisticated thinking process used to reach conclusions and draw results, then it earns the name of reasoning, a developed and higher mode of thinking.
Society, through training, teaching, and preaching, passes on to us a general meaning and concept of the world. However, when we transact with this world and the things in it we give, rather the transaction assigns and defines, the world and the things in it a personal meaning, but with that a dilemma enters our cognitive lives, we want to relate our personal experiences, but the terms available are general, not capable of perfect and complete dimensional conveyance of our personal conceptual positions.
The surrounding generality, though informatively available to us, there is no application of it in our personal lives, our personal and highly individualistic terms and definitions, resulting from our personal transactions, are applicable. We are a composite of these and our lives live on it.
With the first perceptual transaction a personal world begins to grow, block by block. Soon, in time, adorned with conceptual decorations there is a personal world. One lives in this personal world of his as long as his energy sustains its corridors, decorations, walls and foundations. When he dies, his personal world crumbles to the ground, leaving behind, in exceptionally few cases, a few traces. Every person is a complete world, in miniature as comprehensive and elaborate as any world ever created anywhere. Every moment new worlds are taking birth and weak and old crumbling down and dying, and we oblivious of each other are oblivious to these worlds too. In our personal world, numbers of other worlds transact with our personal world, considering the number of people who play, more or less, a part in our lives.
Space and time are material phenomena and as much realities as other forms of matter. We, however, interpret them individualistically and relatively. Existence, material and manifest, is not a delusion but a reality, and the known is our means of reaching the unknown. On the same ground, movement is continuous, yet relative permanence is not an illusion, however it is a relatively limited interpretation of a part of the total time, it is a truth but partial.
With the emergence of brain the sensuous experience of man began to reside in his brain as Consciousness. Though also found in certain animals and birds, the rudimentary sensuous experience, as reasoning, stands fully developed in the human being. In humans the sensuous experience forming the consciousness and stored in the brain is what imparts individuality to it. In some individuals it developed to intuitively transact with the Divine Reason spread out in the human form and available to the human consciousnesses for information and for guidance. Human consciousness, individual experience, collective experience available through learning, individual reason gained through individual transaction with the world, and collective reason, collectively gained by mankind, all combine to form Human Reason, which further grows after gaining insights into Divine Reason, from it, it is Reason, the general history of Existence and Evolution, that it learns, and not any individual history
In our study of past philosophies and religions, we must consider and distinguish between histories that have come down to us and revelations that are the answers of the Divine Reason, in abstract and general terms, in response to the inquisitive enquiries of the Individual Reason.
There are two ways to spend your life, by faith that is dogmatically, or by reason, that is logically, the first approach may have at times won battles or wars for man, but in general and ultimately the reason has been the winner, and even the insanest of us advises intuitively to live reasonably. Thus the ultimate winning combination would be faith and reason.
Note: The author, an ex-government officer, is President of SACC (South Asian Columnists’ Council).He writes on all aspects of the social milieu, from economic to philosophical issues. He has written a number of books on social philosophy.