Friday, 7 September 2007

How do you choose to believe? Reasoning or Sensory?

Let's talk a little bit more about philosophy.

Say when your neighbour tells you this, "I think it's going to rain today." How can you conclude if she is correct or wrong? Well, I imagine you can do one of the following:

(1) Run a search on google (try "how do we know it's going to rain", amusing but that's exactly what I did) which probably will give several links to weather stations. Look at satelite maps, precipitation level, past statistics and weather outlook for today and next couple of days. Scientific isn't it? I'm sure by the end of which you will have firm reasons to concur or dismiss your neighbour's statement.

(2) Look immensley into the sky. If the clouds are grey, it probably is going to rain. If you see lightning and hear thunder, they will further reinforce the fact that rain is coming. Not so scientific indeed to rely on your senses, is that what you are thinking?

The 2 Greek Philosophers Plato and Aristotle believed in different things. Plato believed that true knowledge can only be found through reasoning (he probably will advocate scenario 1) whereas Aristotle relied on senses to find truth (of course that does not mean he dismiss reasoning altogether). So who is correct?

All my life I have sweared by the principle of "reasoning is the only way to find truth". I am neither superstitious nor religious because I think I lack the conviction to simply rely on faith. But I also realised that this rational way of thinking often stifles creativity and imagination. In the most extreme case, it may even lead to radical behaviours such as trying of witches, crucification of religious icons, condemnation of superstitions, etc just like in the medieval days (I could be wrong, maybe to find truth through reasoning was not the motivation for those acts during that period).

If only life is as simple as black or white! Unfortuanately, there is another shade call grey. As such, it maybe be hard to just try to rely on the human mind to reason out all things. If one can put one's heart and one's mind to work together, the world that one will see may be different, perhaps even clearer.

Before I close off this topic, I'll like share with you something interesting I read in "Sophie's World". An astronaut and a brain surgeon were once talking. The surgeon is a Christian but the astronaut is not. Trying to explain that he did not believe in God, the astronaut said, "I've been out in the space many times but I've never seen God or angels." The surgeon defended his religion by saying, "And I've operated on many clever brains but I've never seen a single thought." Is this not the cleverest thing to say?

No comments: