“Man is the only kind of varmint that sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it.” ~John Steinbeck
It’s a bold thing to call reason a trap. The skeptics will say that is exactly what someone who can’t hold up their end of an argument would say. After all, if you can’t state your case with reason, how can you state a case at all?
Being Reasonable Isn’t Reasonable
So let’s use reason to establish the point. Reason is based on known facts. The known world is, by definition, limited. You know what you know. You can also reason on the things you are certain you don’t know. You know what you don’t know. Does this encompass all possible knowledge?
Of course not. Have you ever seen a young child draw the most ridiculous conclusion about something? They factored in what they knew and what they knew they didn’t know and the result was, from an adult standpoint, hilarious. Yet the child was being reasonable.
Let me give you an example. When my daughter was very young, my wife and I worked hard to feed her healthy food. As a result, her food was usually green, yellow, or orange. One day, my wife presented our daughter with a strawberry. Our little girl was delighted. She played with it, bounced it around — everything but eat it. It was then I realized, she thought it was a toy. After all, she reasoned, food is never red.
Ok, you may be thinking lots of kids play with their food. Maybe she just hadn’t got around to eating it. So listen to the chocolate ice cream story.
My wife was delighted to present our daughter with her first ice cream experience. It was chocolate. She prepared a spoonful and started toward our daughter’s mouth — and missed. Now you must understand, this girl really, really loved to eat. My wife tried again — and missed again. My daughter started getting upset. You could see her message was, “That brown, wet, mushy stuff is NEVER going in my mouth. I’ve seen brown, wet, mushy stuff before…” Of course Mom knew better and managed to sneak the spoon past her defenses. The dawning of new knowledge washed over her being like a wave as she, for the first time, grabbed the spoon away from her mother and gobbled down that ice cream. Reason almost stopped her from experiencing the joy that is chocolate.
Being Unreasonable Is Not The Answer
So are we to kick reason to the curb and return to being unreasoning? Of course not. The issue is not binary, reasonable vs. unreasonable. As there often is, there is a third path and this is the path that builds on and excels reason. Let’s coin a new word: Über-reasonable. I love the prefix “über”. Wikipedia says über means “above”, “over” or “across” and that it is used in informal English for emphasis.
Über-reasonable is not unreasonable. It builds on the foundation of reasonableness and then takes it to the next level. At that next level there is a newfound freedom, a chance to experience things not yet proven or even doubted.
“Being reasonable isn’t reasonable.” click to tweet
Why Bother Escaping Reason?
You could live a reasonable life and it would be just fine, safe even. Why risk going beyond it?
What you get when you escape reason is an expanded and expanding universe. You get love and gratitude. You get wonder and awe. I don’t believe I can oversell this. You get to be wrong sometimes and it’s all right. You get to be free in a way that reason cannot explain or even grasp. It opens up new opportunities for expression and it’s just plain fun.
How To Escape The Trap
So here you are, poised to make the leap beyond reason. How can you do it without losing all you have gained by becoming reasonable, all you have struggled to learn and obtain? The answer is simply this: suspend reason, if only for a moment. A moment is enough. Set aside your disbelieve and consider: What does the world above reason look like? Here’s an enticement: It is life in HD, 3-D, and surround sound. It is Technicolor, Panavision, and Kodachrome. And one other thing about it, reason is still there. You don’t even have to give it up. You just have to take it down from its pedestal.
Strawberries. Chocolate ice cream. What else are you missing out on that you don’t even know you are missing?
How did you overcome reason or where are you still struggling with it? Tell us about it by commenting below.
Photo credit: abejorro34
2 thoughts on “How to Escape the Trap of Reason”
I guess my first reaction is to get scared. I don’t think reason is the pinnacle but it is hard to picture something greater than isn’t just faking being greater. I don’t want to get tricked. What can I do about that?
You aren’t going to get tricked. You don’t have to give up reason to go beyond it. This is because you will be building on reason. Your head is still going to work. Try something small. Trust something you don’t understand. By the way, you already do. Don’t you use a computer you couldn’t build yourself? Ok, let’s say you could build it. Could you make the chips in it? How do you know they add correctly? You have faith in the technology. Just pick out something new you have not yet put faith in. Remember, this is not credulity, it is based on evidence.