(Words, I pray, of reason in response, in my opinion, to these contentious and, also in my opinion, unreasonable times…)
First, what reason is not…
Reason is not a body or compendium of my opinions (irony compels me to write, in my opinion!) drawn from my experience and observations of life.
Rather reason, whilst, by necessity, employing my experience and observations of life, is my capacity, indeed, our human capacity to make sense of reality (be it in regard to persons, places, or things, including ideas) and to communicate, most often via words, that sense to others in a way that is receivable, that is, intelligible, understandable, or reasonable.
On Reason and Truth
Reason, by virtue of what it is and what it does, is related to the human quest for truth, that is, the human search to answer the questions about the being and nature of universally perceived and understood realities.
On Reason’s Methods
Reason uses varying methods or processes depending on the nature of the question of reality being addressed. To wit, reason’s approach is different when seeking to establish the truth of a mathematical formula, a scientific (e.g., a medical) hypothesis, an account of a historical event, or an ethical judgment about one’s or another’s public and private behaviors.
Thus, no one method of reason is the reasonable method to be applied in all cases.
Moreover, no one method of reason, again, depending on the area or issue of inquiry, is more or less reasonable or rational than another.
On Reason and Civility
(Not my opinion, but rather my observation of my personal practice…)
When I have been most reasonable(1) and when I encounter and engage others, especially “the other,” those with whom I disagree in the arena of our seeking to communicate our senses of things, I have discovered that I can speak with clarity and, equally (perhaps more) importantly, listen with charity.
In a word, to be reasonable is to cultivate the ground in which the seed of civility can be planted and from which it can sprout and bear mutually beneficial fruit.
(1) By “reasonable,” I mean reason-able, that is, employing reason to the best of my ability. For honesty compels my confession that though I am always reason-able, that is, able to reason, I, when allowing my emotions to rule my behavior, what I do and say and how I do and say it, am not always reasonable!