On unreasonable Reason and reasonable Unreason

We are living a myth of fixity. Everything is black-boxed. Everything is thought to have conceptual clarity and precision. This way of thinking and being is imprisoned by the chains of either/ or structure of our habitual thinking. The logic of either/ or thinking is simple. Only one of the poles can be accepted at a time. The other pole is closed, suppressed and forgotten. This is so because of the principle of contradiction and the principle of sufficient reason. I have proposed that there is a principle of insufficient reason. This principle humbly accepts the limits of reason. Reason is not absolute. It can have a blinding effect. It can be unreasonable if taken to its limits. There is unreason in the reason that refuses to sit in binary separation imposed by the needs of logic. We cannot keep reason and unreason in watertight compartments and hold them in tensive opposition. The myth of the fixity of reason is an illusion. Unreason is not the other of reason. Unreason is not on the other side of reason. Unreason is not siding against reason. Unreason is another form of reason. The challenge is to think together reason and unreason. Reason fails to live up to its own reasonable standards.

We like to keep reason in the ivory towers because it marks our space on the scale of all living beings. It makes us little less than God(s) and Angels. It permits us to forget the animal in us. We are not either humans/rational beings or animals. We are both. There is an animal in each of us. Forgetting the animal in us is a tempting idea. It allows us to be portrayed as belonging to the higher plane far away from the wildness of the animal. We too can be wild and find reasons for our brutish behaviour. The history of humankind is full of it. Reason has failed us or rather we have failed reason. History is proliferating with these failures. Violence seems to be rational. It exhibits a reason. We are creative in violence and torture. Here we seem to be different from animals. The tiger kills. Tiger kills in the same manner for thousands of years. There is creativity in the way the tiger approaches its victim. But humans exhibit massive/ unimaginable creative reasoning while they kill and torture each other.

We can certainly trace the sublimity of reason and we can also trace the depravity of reason. We like to think of depravity of reason as unreason, the other of reason. It seems that reason does not have another side. We may only see the other side of reason in divinity. Here too humanity has thought of Gods like Dionysius among the Greeks or Krishna among the Indians. The spontaneity and the playfulness of Dionysius and Krishna are beyond the either/ or frames of our thinking. We have to think together reason and unreason in these understandings of God. The unreason is not the animal side of humans that can be caged and chained by reason. A man under the hold of unreason and cruelty is not under the hold of animality alone. He is still a human. Unreason has its own reason and is a form of reasoning. We have to deconstruct reason and manifest its limits and expose the myths that we live about it. Deconstruction of reason will enable us to accept our finitude. We can get the best and worst out of reason. To get the best out of reason we have to think together reason and unreason that is already inhabiting our life. It will humble us and we are more likely to overcome the blindness of reason. It will keep our feet on the ground. It will enable us to be more real than ideal in our approach to life.

Maybe following Jacques Derrida, we can trace a grammatology of reason. Grammatology being a science of writing enables us to see reason as a form of writing. Indeed, it is the reason that enabled us to write as well as speak. Derrida invites us to think of speaking also as a form of writing. There is plurality in the forms of writing. Reasoning can be imagined and thought also as writing. This means when we thinking reason on the side of writing, we may be enabled to think that reasoning can also have different forms and shades just like drawing and scribbling are also a form of writings. This may enable us to move from unreason/ scribbling to legible writing. By thinking that reason as the other of unreason, we already think that we are on the peak of the mountain and in the light of reason we will always be what is imagined as a fully rational presence. We cannot fully be present as rational beings. We have been unreasonable. We can find reasons for anything. We are indeed reasonably unreasonable and often act in this light that is dissipated by darkness. We are fragile and breakable and not simply a little less than angels. We carry treasures of reason in earthen vessels. We can therefore reach the heights, depths and breadths of reason as well sink into the hells of unreason.

Thinking together reason and unreason that cohabit in us can usher in a new way of looking at humanity, divinity and the world. Reason has a habit of being dialectical. It has a habit of thinking that what it deems as other is siding against it. The dialectical reason, therefore, sides against everything that is thought as the other. This is why it also sides against unreason and deludes itself that unreason is siding against it. We have the challenge to liberate ourselves from this unreasonable dialectical reason. Instead of this dialectical approach, we can embrace a dialogical approach. The dialogical approach can enable us to think between and beyond reason and unreason. We need a dialogical approach to bring the best of reason and keep the worst of unreason at bay. We have the challenge to come to terms with unreasonabilty of reason and reasonability of unreason. By annulling the dialectics of reason and unreason, we can open reason to enable us to think and generate creative visions, philosophies, and ideas that can emancipate us from the chains of unreason that masks our reason.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao