Africa

When the street of the mind is not lit

Reason is the torchlight of human existence. It acts as the streetlights of human beings. What is human essence without reason? Reason is a precious possession that defines the humans as having a higher purpose.Without it, the pathway to life is plagued with dense twilight and arrant existential blindness.

If lower creatures have mental cognition as we do, they too would be called humans. They simply do not. Instead they operate with a high mode of instinctiveness that outweighs ours in most cases. From thinking comes reason; from reason comes judgment; from judgment comes decision; then decision finally determines the way we face existence comprehensively. But often times, there were obstruction that tend to bar a correctness of thinking and judgment. And here I do not mean some mental diseases that obstruct soundness of judgment—insanity. Many people with sound minds commit blunders in judgment. This unsound way of thinking and living comes from unsound way of reasoning. Good live demands critical thinking.

Critical thinking affirms once own individual uniqueness in the universal scheme of things. Most often when people say ‘I know’, such presumed knowledge is often deducted from popular and conventional mode of thoughts. Some conventional wisdom might not be factual. For instance, lots of people take whatever information they read in the newspapers, hear on the radios or watch in televisions to the unquestionable. When people report or narrate of an experience or an incidence, the narrative is not completely divorced from their personal emotional viewpoints, judgments, likes and dislikes as contrary to how things are in themselves—the objectivity of facts. Empirical science gives credence to the fact that truth is verifiable.

But often times depending on who verifies a point of fact, its truth could be subjectively uttered or modified to suit ones standpoint. In the new era of popular opinions, judgments and conventional thinking, there is no gainsaying the fact that individual freedom of critical reason and judgment is dwindling. How far does the peer group, religious ideologies, political opinions, advertisements etcetera, tend to think for people and infuse one-way knowledge in them.

At times, one needs put on a systematic skepticism as a methodological step to good judgment. Is everything the spiritual leaders say true? Is everything the parents say true? Is everything the media say true? Is everything the professor say true? Is everything the political leader say true? Is everything I read from books true? Is every hypothesis put forward true? Not necessarily. But how do we verify things. Like the biblical Thomas, we ought to doubt, question and ask. The legendry biblical Thomas wouldn’t have ‘seen’ if he didn’t put on the mind of methodic skepticism. It pays off.

When people say ‘I know’ it is logically relevant to question how they arrived to he conclusive knowledge. If one carefully notices, one would see that the answer is often: ‘my friend told me, I read it in papers etcetera. Convergence of proposition had always been a way of obtaining information down through the ages. If few people point to a statement of proposition, then it must be true. The fact is that every medium of knowledge is not immune from fallibility. In many instances, even the court had condemned an innocent person. At the moment of trial, do to frenzied media report, the whole world might come to believe that the person in question is actually guilty of an accusation. Sometimes coherency in the mode of reasoning implies that one stands odd in the midst of others. An individual human person endowed with reason and judgment ought not to be a conformist. It does not matter if at first once is termed ideological ‘rebel’. Thinking and reason is an individual act, not conventional. One must not agree with a hypothesis becomes it is put forward by a friend, parents, a teacher etcetera especially when such hypothesis is unjustifiably incoherent by ones own intelligence. Uncritical thinking had made lots of people make bad decisions in like. Many have followed their friends to doom and regret. If they had only sat down to reason, maybe things would have been a little different.

Violating a conventional mode of thinking is like breaking a shackle off ones life. Conformist pattern of reason is very intrinsic in every culture of the world. Everyone is a product of a particular culture. Each culture has a unique worldview which is often unquestionably imparted on the people. An entire society might be infested with an erroneous way of reasoning. Ask many Arab decent from the Middle East about America and observe a conventional reaction. In the same way ask many Americans about the Muslims and see the same similar conventional reason. Ask many people around the international community what they think of Nigeria and receive a stereotyped conventional thinking mode. Unless we begin to violate these forms of populist reason, our day to day life would always revolve around error of reason, judgment and living. It is therefore noteworthy that the moment we stop thinking individual persons, we begin to die of sound living. Socrates was right when he said: ‘unexamined life is not worth living’
CSN: 15923-2008-18-32

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