Quotes on reason
These quotes on reason will help you to explore its nature, form links with other WOKs and AOKs, and provide discussion points for TOK lessons. They will also support you as you address knowledge questions within your TOK essay and TOK presentation.
- What do the quotes suggest about the role reason plays in our acquisition of knowledge?
- Are the quotes consistent, or do they clash about the role it plays as a way of knowing, and its relationship with others WOKs and AOKs?
- Can you think of other ways of knowing and areas of knowledge that these quotes relate to?
- How many of these thinkers are you familiar with? Research the ones you haven’t come across before – and, indeed, the ones you think you already know. Click on the names to take you to the corresponding Wikipedia article, although this should only be used as a starting point for your research.
Finally, how would you use the quotes to construct a typical IB Diploma TOK essay title? Look at , and see if you can compose something similar (and think about how you’d go about structuring it).
1. The nature of reason
A man has free choice to the extent that he is rational.
Logic: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.
Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.
Man is a reasoning rather than a reasonable animal.
I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way.
All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.
Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form.
Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason.
Habit is stronger than reason.
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god.
People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.
William Butler Yeats
The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual’s own reason and critical analysis.
Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama)
The true triumph of reason is that it enables us to get along with those who do not possess it.
2. Reason and emotion
Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason.
Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.
All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.
The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.
We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart.
When the intensity of emotional conviction subsides, a man who is in the habit of reasoning will search for logical grounds in favour of the belief which he finds in himself.
Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.
3. Reason and faith
Faith… must be enforced by reason… when faith becomes blind it dies.
Reason is the enemy of faith.
Life is a battle between faith and reason in which each feeds upon the other, drawing sustenance from it and destroying it.
What is faith? If you believe something because you have evidence for it, or rational argument, that is not faith. So faith seems to be believing something despite the absence of evidence or rational argument for it.
Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.
4. Reason and imagination
Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.
C. S. Lewis
5. Reason and sense perception
Where the senses fail us, reason must step in.
6. Reason and the arts
Truly fertile Music, the only kind that will move us, that we shall truly appreciate, will be a Music conducive to Dream, which banishes all reason and analysis. One must not wish first to understand and then to feel. Art does not tolerate Reason.
Poetry involves the mysteries of the irrational perceived through rational words.
Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.
7. Reason and ethics
The world is indebted for all triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression.
8. Reason and religious knowledge systems
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.
Of all human activities, man’s listening to God is the supreme act of his reasoning and will.
Pope Paul VI
Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.
9. Reason and human sciences
It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.