Are You Reasonable?

Many think that being reasonable is a good thing, they may even aspire to the accolade of reasonable man, thinking that this might imply a sound, comprehensive faculty of discernment and weighing all the angles of an argument. But reason only goes so far, so often it merges with excuse and justification. And these have to be sold to others. It takes a brave man to point out that a justification is not the same as something fully reasoned. There is a major fallacy associated with reason and this is that almost inevitably it is based in a socio-political context. The two things are inextricably linked, because reason has to it the normative basis of what society deems reasonable. As a consequence, reason, strange as it may seem, can be causal of atrocity. If we don’t like the way a bunch of a-rabs are behaving then it is reasonable to effect regime change which causes death, destruction and a massive migration crisis; which in turns leads to unrest at home. Reason is not infallible and more often it is a way of arguing for something we want, seek or desire. It is a pretend pseudo-logic used to justify.

Reason is a tool for manipulation, it lies aback the salesman’s pitch and the advertiser’s enticement. The reason for using this lovely fifteen compartment washing capsule is that it is so much better and more convenient than our competitor. Their washing capsule has only fourteen compartments, Q.E.D., our capsule is better, and you need to pay that little bit extra to join the enlightened users of the novel quantum chromodynamic washing system. Should you do this instantaneously you will be transformed into a model, a sex goddess and a perfect mum, who will be the envy of all and sundry.

OK, I have over-egged this, but do you get the idea? Reason can be used to manipulate.

Reason can have a convenient and expedient, self or group centred myopia.

What is reasonable in one socio-political context, is unreasonable in another. And reason has a poor memory, it is also selective. For example, many claim to be Christian and unless I am mistaken vengeance is not a Christian value. Yet we have people, claiming to be Christian insisting that it is fair that a child murder be punished as an adult and for life in the USA. The victim can no longer walk the earth; therefore, the perpetrator must be locked away until they die. The reasoning is faulty. It is used to manipulate a desired outcome, in this case vengeance. It is not fair that the perpetrator should be free, ever.

Attached to this notion of reason is this equally bizarre notion of fair. Many a highly paid executive justifies an inflated salary on grounds of fairness, but it is a selective justification in which the more able arguer wins a greater salary. What is fair can be only in the eyes of the person making this claim. Everybody else is wrong. If one is using reason, it is not reasonable that there is such a huge pay differential. It is skewed, but the skewing need not be so marked. To be true some are simply greedy bastards.

To be reasonable, is to be malleable, able to be reasoned. One can be persuaded, influenced, convinced, manipulated, brainwashed and brow beaten by reasons. The peer group and this “social consensus” thingamajig is a major component of reason. It is man-made and as a certain Vulcan might say, illogical.

At the back of reason there is often an agenda, simple as.

Having perhaps tainted this notion of reason:

Am I a reasonable being?

Is this a good thing?

Has my reason ever gotten me into trouble?

Is reason comprehensive and all encompassing?

It’s Always the Quiet Ones….

Last night I was watching a George Carlin sketch on You Tube, it was about all the stupid things we say without thinking about them. One of his targets was; “It’s always the quiet ones that you have got to watch”. Obviously, we are all proto-axe-wielding-maniac-mass-killers who are not popular with the neighbours. It is always reported thus on the news. Many popular people have done heinous things, though somehow this isn’t mentioned, their popularity. Believe it or not on a number of occasions people have actually said this shit to me, “it’s always the quiet ones that you have got to watch”, with a wink implied or actual, where I am “the quiet one”. Apart from thinking “what a wanker”, what can one do? Well one can remain silent. On rugby tour I stayed up late in the bar on the ferry chatting to some young ladies with my poor French. We were still talking when the others surfaced. They imagined many things, when nothing had in fact happened. “It’s always the quiet ones that you have got to watch”, wink wink, nudge nudge, one said to me. As it happens, I got invited to a Christian group in France as a result of our philosophical discussions. Later on that tour, I escorted the not-so-quiet-ones out of a possible stabbing by a pimp, away from the gendarmes and back to the hotel. It wasn’t me the proto-axe-wielding-maniac-mass-killer who was in danger of causing trouble.

There is a thing whereby people assume that silence is agreement. Now we proto-axe-wielding-maniac-mass-killers do not always feel the need to argue the toss. We may disagree and never voice our disagreement, we are definitely not “on board”, most often we are waiting for the noise to stop. I can think of many times where people have gone away convinced that I was “on board” when I have been anything but. All I have done is increased their Trip Advisor wanker star rating in my mind. They are on their own trip and good luck to them. I do not wish to travel with them. In fact, this has led to a number of misconceptions down the years, some of which have caused big problems.

I am getting around to the subject of control. People like to control certain situations and people. I am not quite sure why, but this is my observation. So, they try to get everyone “on board” or some such thing. They may talk at you, about you and all that kind of shit. They may assume that they have you under control and have your agreement. The may think that they have the situation under control and that they have a grip on what is going on. Way back when I did a start-up, the VCs insisted on various control clauses in the legal documentation. Right then their Trip Advisor star rating started going up and I was losing interest from the get go. I was offended, back then. It was a de-motivating thing for me. They could watch me all they liked, but I can be poker faced. Unimpressed, I was.

The phrase; “It’s always the quiet ones that you have got to watch” is wrong. It should read, “It’s always the quiet ones that you have got to ask.”

That is unless you are a skilled empath or telepath, which most of us aren’t.

Inured and In Denial

Many people are so inured with how they are living, what they are doing and the “ethos” of their own workplaces, that they cannot imagine anything else. They are so very accustomed to it and de-sensitized thereby. It is the way we do things, always have and always will. Even if it saps the will to live and makes them miserable, rather that, than change. It might be nightmarish, but it is a familiar nightmare. If it is a kitchen nightmare you might call Gordon Ramsay to give you a few home truths. Inevitably there would be denial and arguments as there so often is in his shows. It is a metaphor for many, many things.

I have a theory that the smarter you deem yourself to be, the more likely it is that you will stick with a course of action that isn’t working. You will then justify and argue for ever so as to maintain the sense of denial. Precisely because you are smart, you will find it harder to see any alternatives. You will argue the toss until hell freezes over rather than admit that you aren’t quite as smart as you deem. Because you are so very inured, that is it. Even if it is fucked, we know best, because we are smart.

What do you reckon? Is there a ring of truth to this little theory of mine? Does it speak direct at human nature?

Underwhelming

I have been looking for a word that describes today and the times around now, and it came up in the newspapers regarding May’s cabinet reshuffle. It was underwhelming. That is the problem with too much brain-mind, too much risk averse thinking, it very quickly bores one to death. There is not much spirit, just a whole bunch of arguing the toss and political infighting. The endless rolling out of template-thinking, the sheer repetition of system and having to walk on egg shells around prima donnas; is so very tiring and stultifying. The machine rolls on and it doesn’t go anywhere but it simply must roll on. Of course, we are still under the heavy fog of Brexit ennui. The walking dead, walk on.

To my mind in relatively recent times there have been two highlights in world history, where spirit rose. And these were when Greece rallied against austerity and when Catalonia aimed at nation-hood. There was some spirit then. But the machine rolled. These two events captured my imagination and for once I was actually keen to read the news. It gave me some hope for wider humanity.

That fucking machine, how it rolls. It squashes any temerity and crumples novelty. The music industry in the UK is at its creative lowest ebb, manufacturing clone varieties. There is so much sameness in all spheres of life. One has to be PR acceptable and thereby bland. We may win prizes, but any controversy is an anathema. The slick corporate nothing-ness pervades, where statements sound nice but mean fuck all. The machine must roll, all hail the machine. We must obey its spreadsheets and conform to its systems. That is the way we do things around here, don’t you know.

This means that leadership is next to impossible, management in a machine context is possible. There are too many chiefs, rather ego-inflated fiefdom builders. The wider good is ignored for personal gain. Everyone bickers and argues for the advancement of fief. It does not matter if the whole goes to pot, so long as the personal fief appears to thrive. In the fullness of time, therein lies ruin.

Concrete brain-mind wants to make sense, to be sensible and reasonable. It tends to grey and sets rock hard. Concrete very rarely lifts the soul and raises the spirit. It is underwhelming. There is no spark. There is an absence of heart.

Wanting to be Right

Being right too soon is socially unacceptable.

Robert A. Heinlein

The previous quotation from an esoteric French manuscript, when I first read it, resonated with me. It still does. Sometimes words in another language can do this, better.

Many people want to be right, whatever that means. They want to “win” the argument, it is a compulsion, and some set much stock on this “being right” thing. It is odd. When they are wrong they don’t usually suffer physical plane death, they may be embarrassed. You can observe when someone is caught in the “I am right” loop, it iterates, and it iterates.

One of the social problems of intuition stems from seeing things too soon. Should you mention them, the “ I am right” do loop starts to execute in the minds of those obsessed by “being right”. Maybe some time later they go, at least if only to themselves, “Alan was right after all”. Rarely if ever has anyone actually said this to me. To do so would be to lose face.

To give an example of this at work. When I was a child in a small mines’ school in outback Australia, not doing so well in school because of my lousy handwriting, it lost marks, a babysitter asked me; “who is the brainiest in your class?”. I told them, “me”. They later told another child in my class what I had said. It got around school and I was tormented as a result. To my knowledge nobody else subsequently taught at a world top ten university from that class. I was, in this context, right too soon.

Similar episodes have played out on numerous occasions subsequently. People are convinced they are right, I say something to the contrary and some form of social penalty for me, follows. Often, though not always, that which I have intuited subsequently falls true. It is no wonder that I keep quiet and became more introverted. When someone is hell-bent on being right they lose auditory capability and the ability to assimilate anything which does not coincide exactly with whatever it is they are “right” about. That “I must win the argument” attitude is strong even if it means them effectively going; “la-la-la-la not listening”, like a child in the playground, metaphorically speaking.

There is no better sure-fire way of offending an already omniscient being than saying something which does not align exactly with their omniscience. I have seen this play out many times. I have something useful to add, stupidly I do so, offence and retribution follows. It is partially because of such dramas, that I find myself here.

A warrior has nothing to defend.

Most people have a huge bunch of stuff, rafts of opinions and their status as an “expert” to defend. Even if this means being close minded. Face and status get in the way.

I have yet to find away around this other than to hold my tongue. I can spot someone who is “wanting to be right” a mile off, these days. Have a look around you, can you recognise such as these? Are you one yourself? In the final analysis does “wanting to be right” bring equanimity, peace or freedom? What do you think? Is it possible to transcend this urge, this compulsion of, “wanting to be right”?

A Little More Open-minded

I hinted at position taking in the previous post and this kind of stance has an increased prevalence in our polarised times. You are either a Brexiteer or a Remoaner, for example. For whatever reason people like to adopt a position and well, argue the toss. I remain unconvinced at to whether or not this is constructive or aids learning. This polarisation can be found on all sides. People are either an angel or a devil, depending upon their belonging to the same camp as you, or not. The idea of having an exploratory open mind seems to be vanishing.

I enjoy the social commentary of Nick Galifianakis. Take look at this image on open-minded at his web site. It takes the piss slightly but even here we sense some polarisation the wishy-washy liberal as opposed to the positioned “clear” thinker.

Many imagine themselves to be open-minded, it is a mark of intelligence aspired to. Yet like all things an open mind is a relative thing, one could say that one is relatively open minded. We all, whether we like to admit or not, have our prejudices. We have made up our mind about stuff, before we have experienced it personally. The influence of our peers and our subscription to group-mind or group think, play a part in this. Each of us has some cultural legacy which colours our thinking. We have some beliefs. The lens of mind is not without aberration, chromatic or otherwise. Our life experience provides some interpretive “reference” points to which we compare. We have our own personal dogma which is bolstered and maintained by the mantra of our speech. Our world-version and world-rules, whilst not necessarily concrete, may not be elastic either. We would not want our world-version to stretch so that it cannot snap back. Least of all we would not want that world-version to explode.

In order to learn there is a need to cultivate open-mindedness. It is by intending to be more open-minded and inclusive, that we can expand our consciousness and thinking.  In this respect age plays a part, there being a tendency to get more set in our ways as we get older.

Here are questions relating:

Might I be a little more open-minded and less judgmental?

What do I miss out on by assuming and advocating my own omniscience prematurely?