One day, while working out in Freedom’s Fitness Center, I thought of another tool to help explain and simplify reason. The next day, near the Rules of Reason, I posted this:
The REASON Acronym
Ruthless, Energetic, Analyze, Standards, Objective, Never-ending
Ruthless: Reason’s purpose is to find truth. Truth is far outnumbered by false ideas that are trying to convince the world that they are the truth. False ideas want to be believed without being challenged because testing them is how they are exposed. On the other hand, truth wants to be challenged because that is how it separates itself from false ideas. Because of this, a person of reason is ruthless to all ideas vying to be the truth, mercilessly challenging their credibility. Reason is truth’s terminator, systematically and unsympathetically destroying all obstacles on the path to truth. As truth’s terminator, reason is a weapon of mass destruction that leaves mass casualties of false ideas on the path to truth, not caring about the heartbroken people along the sides of that path who received so much hope and joy from believing in those now dead false ideas. Reason pursues hope, but only hope based in reality, which comes from freeing truth from Progress’s Prison at the end of the path.
Energetic: Reason does not casually pursue truth. Instead, reason pursues truth with all its energy, ambition and passion. As truth’s terminator, reason is programmed to do nothing but pursue truth with a single-minded determination that has a truth-at-all-costs mentality. As Henry David Thoreau allegedly wrote, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
Analyze: Reason wants to immediately have the truth. But reason is also patient, understanding that pursuing truth can be tedious work. Reason is analytical, taking the complexity of an idea and testing its credibility by breaking it down into simpler parts to examine it more closely. Reason is detail-oriented, demanding quantifiable precision from itself and unwilling to settle for generalized, superficial or one-sided summaries of an idea.
Standards: In order to find truth, reason understands that strict standards of evidence have to be followed in order to weed out false ideas. The standard height for a basketball rim is 10 feet, so if you want to legitimately say you can dunk a basketball you have to be able to jump high enough to dunk on a 10-foot rim. But, lots of people can dunk on a 10-foot rim. So, if your goal is to find out who can dunk on the highest rim, then you have to raise the standard. If you raise the rim to 11 feet, but there are still a hundred people in the world who dunk on that height, then you have to continue raising the standard. If you raise the rim to 12 feet and only one person in the world can jump high enough to dunk on that height, then you have raised the standard high enough to find the answer. In the same, way if there are 20 ideas vying to be the truth on a subject, then you have to keep raising the standard of evidence until only one idea – the truth – can meet the standard. If another person comes along who can dunk on a 12-foot rim, then the rim height has to again be raised to determine which of the two can dunk on the highest rim.
In the same way, if the standard of evidence is high enough that only one idea can meet it, but then a new theory is introduced that can also meet the current standard, then reason again raises the standard of evidence. In other words, by reason’s standard, a theory that seems to be proven is always only tentatively the “proven truth” because another theory could always arise that seems to stake just as good, if not better, of a claim to being the truth on a subject.
Objective: As truth’s terminator, reason does not allow emotional bias to obstruct the search for truth. Reason does not allow a person to hold their own beliefs – no matter how much they cherish the idea – to weaker standards of evidence so they can pass the test. All ideas vying to be the truth are objectively held to the same standard. Reason causes a person to challenge their own ideas just as much, if not more, than they challenge opposing views. I think reason believes that the only kind of truth that exists is objective truth, while everything else is just opinion. And, finding objective truth requires an objective standard.
Never-ending: Reason’s purpose is to find truth. But, even after reason finds and verifies truth, reason never stops challenging that idea. Reason never concludes that an idea is so well-proven that it should never be challenged again. Reason believes that there could always be more truth pulled from an idea, so reason continues to challenge it. Reason also continues to challenge proven ideas for fear of becoming dogmatic about truth.
The River of Reason is a river that runs through the mind of every enlightened person. Every idea vying to be the truth travels along Theory Trail up to the river and then has to try and swim across this river to be confirmed as truth. If the theory makes it across, it is the truth. If it is the truth, but not yet proven, then it can tread in the river, but it cannot swim across. If it is not the truth, then it is washed downriver over False Theory Falls. If a theory makes it across the river and is confirmed as truth, it is not allowed out of the river. Instead, it can grab the riverbank of belief, but it is not allowed to pull itself out of the river. Lions of logic patrol the riverbank, ensuring no truth gets out. So, truth forever feels the resistance of the River of Reason, allowing the truth to maintain or even improve upon its strength.