What's the Difference Between Reasonable vs Unreasonable? Icon

February 20, 2019

The Enlightenment was said to be a period where reason dominated. So it follows that before and after that period, people were unreasonable or less reasonable.

The word “reason” comes fron Latin ratus which is to reckon, think, or judge.

This is similar yet different from the word “intellect” which comes from intelligo or to understand.

The problem is that these definitions only account for logic or the connection of ideas, and not the feeling that powers those connections.

  • A terrorist might find it reasonable for him to bomb a market in order to send a signal to foreign occupiers to leave.
  • A dictator might find it reasonable to supress a protest forcibly in order to deter further protests and insatbility

Taliban fighters

Anti-terrorists and anti-dictators would then blame them as unreasonable and thus be subject to punishments. This is similar to how you punish your pet dogs and cats if they won’t obey your commands.

Thus, when someone says ‘be reasonable’ it really means:

Please have a desire to project your consicousness onto a mental thought-experiment of the future where the bad consequences of your current improper actions will lead to the suffering of either yourself or others, or both, and then feel that suffering and then decide if that future suffering is worth whatever you imagine to gain from your current improper action.

This requires:

  • the desire of the person to feel about consequences or to even think about it
  • the mental ability and energy to project his mind onto those consequences
  • the emtional ability to feel the suffering as bad enough to stop the immoral action

For example, a divorce would be immoral under most circumstances as it would deprive the child of love and support. But if the spouse is suffering too much as to die, such as being beaten, then it would be more moral to have a divorce. In this case, the chronic, constant suffering is worse than the future suffering of the child.

However, if a divorce was thought of just because the spouse fell in love with another person, then it might be immoral to have a divorce because the interests of the children outweigh the romance of the spouse.


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