Strengths and Weaknesses of Reason as a Way of Knowing

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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There are some factors of the human body that play different important roles in acquiring knowledge, understanding and analyzing this knowledge. Ways of Knowing include emotion, language, perception and reason. These ways of knowing offer a media for interpretation understanding and communication of information. The knowledge phrase that we derive from this is “The Strengths and Weaknesses of Reason as a Way of Knowing” this phrase can also be interpreted as “To what extent does reason as a way of knowing impacts our understanding”.

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Reason is the power that every human posses giving the ability to think in a focused manner or as any process which involves drawing a conclusion from a set of premises, this done without restraint and in such a way that a primary piece of information can be processed through reasoning to gain further understanding. In this way, Reason enables people to acquire knowledge by accumulating a number of facts, interpreting and most importantly “finding them to be true”. “You do not reason a man out of something he was not reasoned into” by Jonathan Swift,1667-1745, this quote means that if someone is not focused he can not perceive any knowledge from reasoning. In the different Areas of Knowledge, reasoning comes in different forms and plays a range of roles as a Way of Knowing, depending on the nature of the information.

Reason itself is the important way of knowing and it has influence over all area of knowledge and it also posses the power to hold upon decisions for different area of knowledge. As every coin has two sides, similarly there are strengths and weaknesses for reasoning process.

One of the limitations of reasoning can be portrayed through the example of a fallacy which is when reasoning is illogical, misleading and/or erroneous and suggests false notions. For example, one could speculate the following argument, ‘nothing is better than winning the lottery, sleeping for four hours is better than nothing, therefore sleeping for four hours is better than winning the lottery’. This is an example of a fallacy of composition or a syntactic fallacy and is an obvious example of disingenuous reasoning. In this case, the two first statements are linked by the word ”nothing” and the third one follows, taking advantage of the wording of the other two statements and establishing a link between the two by summarizing their meanings. We can all agree that unlimited sleeping is not better than wining the lottery. Reasoning can almost always be used as a means of justification and people often use it to make various claims but as revealed by the previous example, its limitations are quite apparent. There are many different types and forms of fallacy but all of them expose the negative side of reasoning and therefore display a major weakness in reasoning as a Way of Knowing.

On the contrary, reasoning also has its assets as a Way of Knowing. An interesting tool used in human reasoning is the ability of introspection where someone reasons their own reasoning as a cognitive process of searching for reasons for certain feelings, actions or beliefs. This process is given quite a substantial focus in psychology where research is often carried out on human reasoning and the motives behind it. It is also very important for people to be able to evaluate themselves and to try to understand their own beliefs and tendencies. The only way for this to be accomplished is through a thought process, dealing with introspection and reasoning with one’s self.

In different areas of knowing reasoning affects differently, reasoning in natural science will evoke thoughts leading to inventions and development of human kind and it will become strength, but if the same reasoning is applied in natural science for wrong purpose than it can be proved disastrous and many people may get affected due to unacceptable actions. Similarly in sciences if we look for human science then the strengths can be observed by human positive behavior in reasoning and the weakness can also be clearly seen by the negative approach of the human attitude towards the nature. Everything is based upon reasoning as it changes the approach of the person towards the topic which has been reasoning out by the person. History is another area of knowledge where reasoning is very necessary and essential and it also has its strength where we can study about the past with the help of reasoning as the component. Reasoning in history can also outline facts which can be harmful for the society so it can become a weakness and then the elements for the fallacies come into picture. As an example, in ancient times people had a blind belief that the earth was flat and this turned out to be a famous fallacy but as it was practically proved that the earth was initially round and not flat, it made a new history and changed the existing history with the powers of fact and originally the appreciation goes to the reasoning process which develops the thinking power of human kind and changed the history. It is said that history cannot be changed because which things has happened cannot be changed again because time flew away making the event as history, but the present can be very good which can some how erase the power of older history then the present will become a history for the generations to come. Moving forward with the arts as an area of knowledge, here we can see that here reason has more weaknesses in compare to strength. The reason has its weak base in field of arts as it is very difficult to understand ones approach towards the piece of art because the perception towards arts changes from person to person and the only strength which can be found in reasoning for arts is that, it has a power to explain too many things in a small piece of work and it also brings out the creativity of the creator. As we come towards ethics as another area of knowledge we get to learn new innovative ideas with the help of reasoning because ethics teaches us the values and if brainstorming is done perfection then the reason can help us in various manner and the weakness can also arise if any concept is misunderstood, here the reasoning process can prove disaster as it will be completely changing our existing ethics. So the reasoning should be done in a correct and appropriate fashion. In the field of mathematics, reasoning is very important because we cannot simply interpret things. If a theory is mathematically proved and accepted then it is the good strength for the subject but it is not an easy task. If the certain theory cannot be proved then it is not appropriate and it’s just a fallacy and it cannot be processed further.

It is very likely that humans have availed themselves of reasoning as a means to sort out their thoughts and work out what they should believe and do since the beginning of time and despite its limitations and weaknesses, reasoning stands as a dominant Way of Knowing and plays an invaluable role in the workings of the human psyche. As a result, no matter what problems arise as a result of reasoning, may it be a conflict between reasoning and perception, emotion, language or even a faith of some sort, reasoning will always exist as a Way of Knowing because it represents the liberation of the human mind.

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Strengths and weaknesses of reason as a way of knowing. (2020, Jan 23). Retrieved from