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December 17, 2019 / Congau

Taste of Reason

Our convictions are the most rational part of us, but humans are emotional creatures. Very often we are driven by personal likes and dislikes that can’t be explained by anything; we just feel like it. The food that we like, the jokes that amuse us, the music that touches us, it’s all largely a matter of taste originated somewhere in our unreflecting personality.

But we want to think that we are rational too and form our deepest convictions from arguments that are neatly ordered by logic. That is certainly the ideal, although when observing other people, we are often inclined to suspect that their talk is not all that well thought through. Still, some humans are rational, and no doubt you consider yourself to be among them. You can recognize a rational argument when you see it even if you don’t agree with it. Clearly, there is such a thing as reason.

But then there is bias, and our skeptics of today, numerous as they are, love to remind us of it. You can never be neutral they say, even in science, because you always carry your past with you. That’s true enough, but it only poses one more obstacle on the thorny path towards knowledge. A bias is not a destruction, but something that one should look for and weed out if possible.

Prejudices can at least be detected by the outside observer and pointed out as a fault, but there is one element of our convictions that can’t be disclosed, yet it is probably always there, not really as a fault, but still not based on reason. Our personal temperament leads us in a certain direction from the very start, determines the path we want to take and thereby the conclusions we’ll make. This is how taste leads the way of reason; it doesn’t exactly interfere, but it makes even dry logic a personal affair.

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