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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Oh, You're Smart Enough? Refusing the Difficult Task of Learning to Reason


 The higher facilities of understanding and human will are vital to decision making. The object of the intellect is truth. Through will, the brain seeks this truth with all the body's senses in order to acquire knowable reality. The will and the brain apprehend knowledge, judge it, and reason with it. Thus, the process renders things understandable and allows humans to react with greater knowledge.

Lower faculties are vegetal – such as respiration, metabolism, growth, and generation – and sentient – related to feelings of sensations. In contrast to the lower facilities, humans' higher faculties are nurtured by their unquenchable free will. This drive allows them to understand meanings and to apply those meanings to their lives. Consistently attaining and possessing greater knowledge builds intelligence and wisdom. These are the noble goals of living.

In all its services, the intellect is a faculty or power for essential knowing. It seeks truth as the eye seeks light. Self-evident truths may be acquired through intelligence while truths that are not easily self-evident must be gained through reasoning. Inasmuch as the intellect (or more precisely the intellect as reason thinks-out the moral implications of a situation and judges on a point-of-duty, it is called conscience. Therefore, conscience is a practical judgment of the intellect and does not stem from feelings or emotions. Inasmuch as the intellect retains its knowledge, it is called intellectual memory.

(“Intellect and Will - Man's Higher Faculties.”

Why make all of these distinctions between higher and lower faculties? It is my contention that we must rise above being organisms content with possessing lower faculties and base, competent intelligence. With free will and an eye toward the truth, we must dedicate ourselves to improving our reasoning powers and building superior intellectual memories. Too many today are content with basic knowledge which equates to basic understandings.

I am not speaking about setting unrealistic goals of reaching genius levels of comprehension. Instead, I am saying intelligence guided by feelings and emotions is insufficient. People who turn to their emotions are using mostly lower faculties to attempt to reason, and the results are disastrous. In their laziness and unwillingness to build reason, they detract from society. Reasoning is difficult, time-consuming, and yet so, so rewarding. Learning to reason is a duty of every good citizen.

One does not have to be a genius to build intellectual memory. All a person needs is the will to learn, an open mind, and the desire to better his or her life through academic pursuits. Understanding that intelligence is the greatest resource and that an investment of time and effort in attaining it is the most valuable use of the faculties is imperative. And, the beautiful thing is that unlimited resources are available for attaining knowledge, the greatest personal asset.

“From the smallest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from one attribute of man - the function of his reasoning mind.”
--Ayn Rand

Building the ability to reason prevents preconceived opinions from becoming unwarranted prejudices. It also constructs brave minds that thirst for knowledge, knowledge that breaks the chains of limitations that incapacitate those who refuse to learn. The truth provided by reasoning is far superior to the truth provided by stark facts because, in reality, most important judgments require intellect and knowledge to reach sound, viable conclusions.

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”
 --Margaret Mead

Above all, improved higher faculties guarantee humans' freedom from those who seek to control their lives – freedom from those who would restrict the books we read, take the liberties we love, and make us automatons by force-feeding us propaganda and making us unthinking subjects.

Intelligent Americans should always strive to feed their “intellect as reason” in order to be able to question the world as it is and to seek new solutions. Anyone who would attempt to use emotion to stir our powers of reasoning is attempting to short-circuit our higher faculties. The way to stop this deception and control is to learn, learn, learn without ever accepting bounds of “knowing all that you need to know.”

“Here is a truth that most teachers will not tell you, even if they know it: Good training is a continual friend and a solace; it helps you now, and assures you of help in the future. 
Good education is a continual pain in the neck, and assures you always of more 
of the same.” 
 --Richard Mitchell, The Gift of Fire

Accept the pain of lifelong education. It is, indeed, a gift of “fire” that ignites the brain, the heart, and the soul. With it, your passion is unquenchable. Without it, you are merely treading water.

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