THE FOURTH BASIC RULE OF REASON

 

            In attempting to formulate the “old” idea of Truth into an ethic, Benjamin Franklin, as usual, comes closest to translating high ideals into a practical rule. He was convinced, he said, “…that truth, sincerity, and integrity in dealings between man and man were of the utmost importance to the felicity of life.” (101) He became resolved to practice these virtues, which say in effect, it is right to tell the truth and it is wrong to lie.

            Reduced to its simplest form the fourth rule of reason can be stated thus: LYING IS WRONG.

            The above rule is based on the assumption that “truths” can be stated propositionally. “Truths”, however, can only be stated propositionally if “truth”, in itself, in unchanging. Much modern philosophy is the way it is because it rejects the propositional idea of truth and yet the propositional concept is rarely defined in its fullness or defended with competence.

            Of all the problems that have been mentioned to this point, the problem of Truth is the deepest, the most challenging, the most interesting, and the most critical. Everything stands in relation to “TRUTH”. The importance of “Truth” in and to society is a fundamental question of knowledge. Because it is deep, the tendency is to shy away from the problem. Yet, ignoring the profound need for “truth” in theory, that comes with our nature as rational beings, brings about corruption in practice that cannot be ignored.

            Truth, in its ultimate nature, is a mystery,  and yet there are aspects of truth that are knowable or we would not even have the word in our vocabularies. To neglect what is knowable about “Truth”, because “Truth” cannot be known in its ultimate, is to undermine rationality at its base. Such disregard for fundamentals is, in the long run, a repudiation of the American experiment that was originally an experiment in reason and truth.

 

CONCLUSION

 

            The criteria of the old idea of reason can, for the convenience of discussion, be reduced to four basic rules. Each of these rules is being rejected by the new intellectuals and the new philosophies, producing a condition where virtually opposite criteria are being advanced as standards for rationality. This results in a split in the meaning of “reason” that can be demonstrated as follows:

 

THE OLD IDEA OF REASON                    THE NEW IDEA OF REASON

 

     Semantics

In rational discussion, words should                   This assumption reflects an unreal

be used primarily to symbolize ideas                   dualism that psychology and

not primarily to trigger emotional               philosophy have proven to be an

response. IT IS WRONG TO ARGUE                   illusion, and therefore such a

BESIDE THE POINT.                                              requirement is rigid and neurotic.

 

 

                                                                  Definition

 

In rational discussion, it is                          There is no such thing as an

necessary to define key terms in an                     appropriate intensional definition.

intensional and appropriate                                   No word ever has the same meaning

manner. EQUIVOCATION IS                                 twice. Such a requirement inhibits

WRONG.                                                                   rational discussion and channels

                                                                                    one’s reasoning into a barren, dead

                                                                                    reiteration of prejudice and

                                                                                    superstition.

 

 

                                                                      Logic

 

A rational discussion is a logical              The requirements of formal logic

discussion where a distinct effort             restrict man’s freedom of thought

is made to avoid logical fallacies              and distort his ability to see reality.

and reach valid conclusions.                                It is the glory of modern philosophy

OVER-GENERALIZATION IS                                to have been able to see past those

WRONG.                                                                   sterile, static rules of thought and to

                                                                                    go on to a higher form of knowledge.

 

 

                                                                     Truth

 

Truth is eternal and un-changing             This old metaphysical idea of truth

and therefore the same for all.                              has been proven inadequate. Every-

Truth, normally, is known to man              thing changes. Truth is, therefore,

through propositions (judgments              considered either a meaningless

that express an un-changing aspect                   abstraction or a transcendental pro-

of reality). False judgments distort                        cess reaching for fulfillment. It is

reality, deceive the mind & beget              absurd to attempt to put a

distrust and suspicion. It is                                     meaningless abstraction or a

important that strenuous effort                  transcendental process into a

is made to determine the true                                propositional form.

value of propositions.

LYING IS WRONG.

 

 

                                                              Common Sense

 

Common sense is the innate                                Common sense is the expression of

recognition that these laws are                             the common prejudice of a group. It

valid and necessary and finds the                       tends to be self-perpetuating and

exorbitant abuse of such laws                              opposes advancement of knowledge.

revolting.                                                                    It adheres to the ways of the past

                                                                                    and is usually the enemy of progress.