Reason as a Way of Knowing


At the corner of faith…maybe a bit of emotion and reason



1. a basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event, etc.: the reason for declaring war.

2. a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action.

3. the mental powers concerned with forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences.

4.sound judgment; good sense.

5. normal or sound powers of mind; sanity.

verb (used without object) think or argue in a logical manner. form conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises. urge reasons which should determine belief or action.

verb (used with object) think through logically, as a problem (often followed by out ). conclude or infer. convince, persuade, etc., by reasoning. support with reasons.

Deductive Reasoning is any form of reasoning that moves from the general to the specific.

a)All dolphins are mammals
b)Flipper is a dolphin
c)Therefore Flipper is a mammal.

Deductive reasoning is often seen as “elementary”

Syllogisms – is one common form of deductive reasoning.  The above is one example.  You have two statements or premises related to each other and a conclusion drawn from those two statements. Look for a quantifier in one (usually the first) premise.  Quantifiers are words like ‘all’, ‘some’ or ‘no’.

We speak of arguments in reason.  These are not fights but rather statements of support for what we are presenting as a conclusion.  You might agree with the conclusion but disagree with the argument that is presented in support of that conclusion.

Our great challenge, whether it is a result of inductive, deductive, lateral, or any other aspect of thinking, reasoning, and processing comes when we are left to entertain the idea that we got it wrong. Tavris and Aronson in their book, Mistakes were made (but not by me) suggest that “people who are open minded and fair ought to agree with a reasonable opinion. And any opinion I hold must be reasonable; if it weren’t, I wouldn’t hold it.”

Inductive reasoning works in the opposite direction, it goes from the specific to the general.  To borrow an example from Richard van de Lagemaat.  Every human I’ve heard of has died, I’ve never heard of a human that didn’t die thus ALL observed human beings have died…the inductive reasoning statement would go a bit further so something like “all observed humans are mortal” would become “all humans are mortal” as an example of inductive reasoning.

What can you do to explore this area?

Dig around the net for examples and discussions related to the following potential errors or fallacies of reasoning.

a)ad ignorantiam

b)hasty generalization

c)Post hoc ergo propter hoc

d)Ad hominem

e)circular reasoning

f)special pleading


h)False analogy

i)False dilemma

j)Loaded question

von de Lagemaat offers that there are four main reasons or causes of bad reasoning: ignorance, laziness, pride, and prejudice.

 Key Questions:

What are matters of fact?

 What are the differences between matters of fact and matters of logic?

What about matters of fact that I don’t directly perceive and I don’t remember?


Induction Just because it happened in the past there is no reason to be able to prove that it will always happen that way in the future.

Blaise Pascal The heart has reasons which reason knows not

Christopher Hitchens That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence

J.K. Rowling I mean, you could claim that anything’s real if the only basis for believing in it is that nobody’s proved it doesn’t exist.

Galileo Galilei 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.

Voltaire Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe

Where would you place “Hunch” in the process of reason?  How do the four ways of knowing inform what we do?  Take a look at this video on innovation and good ideas, what can you draw from it that applies to our ways of knowing and reason crossed with time in particular?

Don’t forget to check other sites on the web: Mr. Hoye’s Reason Section

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