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The Tyranny of Reason


The first principle of moral psychology is intuition comes first and reasoning follows, where “follows” means both 1) comes after and 2) takes direction from.  All reasoning is motivated reasoning, the purpose of which is to justify, defend, profess, and persuade others of, our own intuitive sense.

And yet, practically all social and political discourse is conducted as if the opposite is true. Defying human nature in this way denies us our basic humanity, and creates the tyranny of reason.

We think, argue, and act as if humans are primarily rational, “always capable of thinking through all possible outcomes and choosing that course of action which will [produce] the best possible result:” Homo Economicus.

Based on the assumption of homo economicus, we place a near religion-like faith in reason as the path to social and moral truth. We believe evidence and logic are the best, if not the only, path to social progress, and that intuition is just another word for superstition; a euphemism for ignorance and bigotry.

Our unquestioned faith in reason causes us to place so much emphasis on the way people argue that we preclude ourselves from hearing what they’re trying to say. If they fail, in our eyes, to present evidence that’s compelling on its face, or to construct what we consider to be an air-tight logical argument, then we feel no particular obligation to even try to discern the intuition they’re trying to express.

Our faith in reason is so complete that we have become convinced that the main, and probably only, explanation for why other people see things differently from us is that they either have insufficient evidence or fail at critical thinking.

When we “know” in this way that people who see things differently are wrong, epistemic certainty naturally follows. We become callous, cavalier, hard-hearted, toward others. We feel not merely intellectually justified, but more, morally obligated, to prevent them from gaining access to the reins of political power, and to impose our own will upon them.

In this manner wicked things this way come. The twin virtues of active listening and empathy rightly understood are driven from our culture, and are replace by the tyranny of reason.



  1. Pingback: How to Bridge the Divide: The Moral Foundation of Meaning/Indifference | The Independent Whig - December 13, 2019

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