When I was in high school and in my first year of university I wanted to study psychology and to, eventually, become a psychologist. I took the first year psych course (Psych 100) offered at my university and, while I loved learning about the workings of the human psyche, most, if not all of my learning came from the textbook. I had six different professors throughout the course, each one having to do his/her teaching term for tenure in the university. Not one of them do I remember being in any way an interesting or motivating teacher. One prof even sat on a stool at the front of the large auditorium and read from his notes the entire three hours. I don’t believe he looked up once to make eye contact with any of us. When he was done reading he simply stood up and walked out.
Needless to say, that kind of learning experience didn’t work well for me. I did alright in the course and on the exam, but I wasn’t compelled to continue my studies in that area. To this day, I am a little disappointed that I didn’t at least try another psych course (even the dreaded Stats course which students had to pass before advancing any further into the program). I don’t regret declaring English Literature as my major because I try not to live with regrets AND language truly is my passion. (I also had a first year English professor who truly loved literature and his job, and took the time to encourage me to pursue my degree in English.) I do wish I had given Psychology a little bit more of a chance, however, as I am truly captivated by how the mind works.
That being said, I’ve often wondered if I had a little more information and a better understanding of the ins and outs of the human mind if I might feel a little less frustrated in my attempts to understand others and why they do or say certain things. Namely, I have wondered as of late, how people are capable of reasoning things out in their mind, things that so many of us don’t quite understand.
Reasoning (noun) – the action of thinking about something in a logical, sensible way (from Google dictionary).
Reasoning is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, for establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, or beliefs. It is the means by which rational beings understand themselves to think about cause and effect, truth and falsehood, and what is good or bad. (information courtesy of Wikipedia.org)
Rational beings are capable of reason. The reasoning of others may not always make sense to us, but that is to be expected for we all have different reasoning capacities. As well, it is important to point out the word “rational” there. Not every person you meet is going to be someone you might consider to be ‘rational’ (and by the way, not everyone is going to consider you rational either!)
The process of thinking about something in a logical way to form a conclusion or judgment is somewhat problematic though. Here’s why:
Logic to me may not be logic to the next person. Being rational and logical can also be affected by a person’s emotional state and mood on any given day as well. We often surrender our reasoning to feeling
(an idea borrowed from Blaise Pascal). Also, the ability to see logic and reason (as generally defined) depends on the individual’s state of mind at the time that the logic is presented. For example, I can be a very logical and reasonable person, but if you hurt one of my loved ones then I can be argumentative, defensive, unreasonable, and even illogical.
Logic is also dependent on rationalization as well. Something can seem logical if it is thought about long enough and rationalized to be truth. Rationalization may be defined as self-deception by reasoning (Karen Horney). If I believe in it strongly enough and convince myself that it is true, then it become it becomes reasonable and logical in my mind even if it doesn’t seem to be that way to anyone else.
Perhaps this is all very much like stating the obvious, but it continues to baffle me how some of us can make decisions and choices which affect others without a second thought to those others whom it is affecting. The concept of ‘I want this so this is the way it is going to be’ is so prevalent today. How does that speak to good reason and logic? If one knows that a decision or an action will greatly affect, possibly even hurt others, how is it logical and reasonable to still perform that action? Does it boil down to the fact that the desire for self outweighs the desire for the greater good of the greater whole?
The mind has its own logic but does not often let others in on it (Bernard de Voto). I suppose the logic and reasoning of others is not for us to judge. I do believe though that is important for us to realize that our reasons may be our own and we may not have to justify our logic to anyone, but in the end this remains true: we
get what we give and we will reap what we sow. If we intentionally seek to hurt others, it will come back to us tenfold.
Our reasoning and logic may be our own, but we need to remember to judge our success by what we had to give up in order to get it.