There cannot, perforce, as the philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist, George Santayana said, be happiness, pleasure and pain without reason, in reality, just as rationale is with memory. Our whole continuity, or existence, in other words, is cast, as it were, by reason and memory, without which there can be no mor(t)al being. It is also aptly said that for human progress reason is a sine qua non. Reason is not a just a mechanism. Its core exists in its proviso to our senses. Put simply, none of us can progress without advancement in our reasoning propensity. Anyone that is keen to progress ought to cling to the picture-postcard of the situation, or circumstance — this is the fount from which our vitality of being flows. It also gives us the gauge to monitor our participation, progress and growth — one that anyone can remember and evolve with. This is quintessentially “The Life of Reason,” as Santayana articulated yet again — a compass that is neither a means nor incidental to our progress. It is, by way of a simple definition, the sum total of personified progress — through which every pleasure of our senses is not only incorporated, but also perceptively appreciated, imbibed and followed.
Reason is as old as the hills. It endows us with the ability to recognise, comprehend, and understand ourselves, as to what it means to be human. Add to it our full gamut of instincts, consciousness, ideas, and sundry, appropriate to our conduct, and we emerge as we are — in mind, body and soul. You may also think of our feelings, including our innate world of dreams — albeit our dreams may not mirror our intelligence, unless the fleeting images in the mind blossom to epitomise not just symbolic tags, but also realities. As Carl Gustav Jung, the plumber of the psyche, would have articulated — our consciousness is fostered through our dreams. This also characterises the expansive depths and extent of our personality.
The fusion of such a disposition and ability to ideate is reason — along with memory. What does this connote? Simple. When our reasoning becomes progressive, it establishes heightened values in objects — this typifies the process into art, aside from practical and cognitive consciousness, reflected by way of symbols and synchronised realities of reason and memory.
The philosopher Plato related it all to the mind, or soul — of reason, physical urges, the will, or emotion, passion, and spirit. He argued that when the troika is not in harmony, there is mental conflict. The will, he believed, can either swing to the side of reason, or physical urges. We could, likewise, be pulled by immoral appetite, or irrational desire to find something we long for. To illuminate the idea, Plato used the depiction of the charioteer, as representative of reason, who tries to control the horses signifying the will and physical urges. He emphasised that we are not self-sufficient — so, we need to absorb and benefit from available exemplars, viz., talents, aptitudes, enthusiasm, passion, social interactions and friendship.
For Aristotle, Plato’s best student, memory was akin to what contemporary applied psychology would embrace. He was actively engrossed in distilling and demarcating different kinds of memory, rather than in discussing philosophical contexts of recall. He emphasised on memory, its associated phenomenon and recollection. He delved into two kinds of memory — short-term and long-term — and, reminiscence as reasoned entity. To echo Santayana’s maxim in précis — reason is, in more ways than one, the sphere of all human thought. It is, therefore, our co-ordinated simulation of true divinity.
(The writer is a wellness physician, independent researcher and author)