Reason: The Solution Manual

September 9, 2012
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
The image is crystal clear in the boy's mind. His father throws himself into the killer to protect the boy's mother. The father slumps to the floor and so does the mother as she starts to scream. The boy feels his parent's limp bodies, cold, as cold as the perspiration dripping down his face. He is thrown back into reality. Bruce Wayne puts the flashback of his parents' murder behind him. He continues to walk down the dark alley, stopping at a bar. This is the moment he has been waiting for; the moment to avenge his parents' death. Looking through the window, he sees the head gangster who premeditated the horrible crime. He takes his gun, raises it to eye level, then wheels around and throws his firearm into the Gotham city river. Bruce Wayne almost let his emotions course through his body and drive him to commit a horrible action. However, he reigned in his emotions and reasoned that a murder of a top mob gangster would only lead to more problems. Bruce Wayne would no doubt agree with Iago, the super villain in William Shakespeare's play Othello, that the head is mightier than the heart. Iago proclaims, "Virtue! A fig! ‘Tis in ourselves are we thus or thus… But we have reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts; whereof I take this that you call love to be a sect or scion…It is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of the will" (1.3.320-331). People are what they make themselves. As heavy as emotion is, the true driving force of actions is reason. Logic is the determining factor of what is right and what is wrong. Throughout society and in life, the evidence to support the viewpoint that reason triumphs over emotion is pervasive.

Consider the example of Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose in Harper Lee's timeless novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, written in New York in 1957 but published with revisions in 1960. Mrs. Dubose lives close to the narrator's home in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama. The narrator is a six year old girl named Scout. She and her brother, Jem, are afraid of the racist Mrs. Dubose. One day, Jem gets angry at Mrs. Dubose for insulting his father and destroys the flowers in her garden. As a punishment, his father tells him to read to Mrs. Dubose for a couple hours daily. After Mrs. Dubose passes away, his father explains that she was addicted to a powerful painkiller. Mrs. Dubose had been taking morphine for most of her life. She felt as if she needed to take it to survive. However, she wanted to die morphine-clean. The purpose of Jem reading to her was to distract Mrs. Dubose from the pain and her emotions. In the end, it was not Jem's reading that helped her die drug free, but as Jem's father puts it, her "bravery". Mrs. Dubose employed logic and reason to help her die clean. If Mrs. Dubose had followed her emotions, she would have died painlessly but guiltily. Her reasoning was more powerful than the sum of her pains and emotions. Because of this, Jem's father stated, "She [Mrs. Dubose] was the bravest person I ever knew" (Lee).

Take into consideration the example of George Milton in John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men, written in California in the 1930's. George Milton is a small, clever man who protects and cares for a huge, mentally disabled man ironically named Lennie Small. From the start of the novel, Lennie shows a proclivity for soft items. Lennie and George have left a farm they were employed at because Lennie touched a girl's soft dress and was accused of rape. They come to another ranch for work. Their dream is to make enough money, own their own piece of land, live off the fat of the land, and tend rabbits. Unfortunately, their dream is cut short. Lennie accidently breaks the boss' son's wife's neck because he was feeling her soft hair. A lynch mob is formed, and they set off to find Lennie. George rushes to find Lennie. George knows that he cannot save Lennie this time. If the mob finds him, they will ruthlessly murder him. George tearfully consoles Lennie by saying that he is not mad at Lennie, asks Lennie to tell him the dream of owning a ranch, and mercifully lets Lennie escape the anger of the mob with a bullet in the back of a head. In this scene, George is ambivalent toward killing Lennie. He initially cannot decide on the best course of action. His emotion is telling him to fight off the angry mob and to do whatever is necessary to save his lifelong friend. However, he thinks his actions through and decides that killing Lennie while Lennie is thinking happy thoughts is much better than a mob killing Lennie. George pushes his emotions aside and reasons with himself to do whatever is best for his friend. He displays altruism and uses logic instead of reason.

Time has also exemplified those who have shown that reason is more powerful than emotion. One such person is Nelson Mandela. Born in South Africa, Mandela grew up in a time of racism between blacks and whites. Nelson Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist who lived in South Africa. The black people were beleaguered and were cruelly treated. Nelson Mandela was not afraid to speak out against these adversities, he himself experiencing these pains. He became the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress. He started the first black legal firm in 1953. He was disappointed by the lack of change in the South African government so he initially followed his violent emotions. This was cut short and he was punished. In 1962, he was sentenced to life in prison due to his actions against the government but was released after 27 years. Mandela learned his lesson and when he was released from prison, he did not let his emotions overpower his reason. He logically organized protests, following the example of Mahatma Ghandi and his policy of satygraha (nonviolence). In 1994, Mandela reaped the fruits of his labor and became the first democratically inaugurated president of South Africa. Until his rule ended in 1999, he introduced many policies that combated poverty and inequality in South Africa. Nelson Mandela ultimately succeeded by using his powers of reasoning rather than following his emotions.

History and literature has shown that reason exerts more power than emotions. Logic causes change, emotions cause problems. Mrs. Dubose came to the logical conclusion that dying morphine-free is the best way to die. George reasons out that sparing Lennie from the clutches of the lynch mob by killing Lennie himself would be the best way for Lennie to die. Nelson Mandela changed his country by following his mind, rather than his heart. Iago, although a villain, agrees that people are what they make themselves. The head is mightier than the heart. Reason is the answer to the problems often caused by emotion. German philosopher Immanuel Kent eloquently proclaimed, "All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason."





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback