The Way of Being | A JourneyTopic Essay: Reason and the Way of Being

Anil Mitra, Copyright © October 29, 2019—November 15, 2019

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The topic essays

This essay

1      Reason

External sources

Journey in Being website sources

1.1      Introduction

1.2      The range of the idea of reason

1.3      The concept of reason

1.4      Foundation of reason

Sources of reason

On patterns

Foundation of reason

1.5      Practice and action

1.6      Identity of reason and the perfect metaphysics

1.7      The means—method—of realization

2      The way




The topic essays

See about the topic files.html.

This essay

This essay covers the following sections in a journey in being-outline.html (i) the section ‘Reason’ (in the section Reason, below) and (ii) implicitly parts of ‘The way’ (see a journey in being-outline.html for information on styles).

At present changes will be made here.

1          Reason

This section is about reason or the logos as derived from Greek philosophy. Here it refers to the identities among reason by beings and Reason (immanent) in Being.

External sources Reason - Wikipedia Instrumental Rationality (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Reason (Encyclopedia Britannica) Argument (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)—has information on argument, the distinction between deductive and inductive argument and a possible third kind: the conductive argument

Journey in Being website sources

a journey in being.html

the essential way-print-no bold.doc

the way - template outline.html

canonical dilemmas.html—possibly

doubt and reason.html


system of human knowledge, reason, practice, and action.html

system of human knowledge, reason, and action-supplement.html


1.1       Introduction

Though reason is of general interest, it is the essential means of realization in The Way of Being.

Reason may seem too specialized to such a means. However, here reason is given a very general meaning. Some common connotations of reason limit it to the factual, formal, the cognitive, the symbolic, and the inferential—e.g. of demonstration and thought. The meaning here will include these senses but (i) the factual (observational and theoretical in the scientific sense) will be broadened to include not just the factual but also the valuational—i.e. the moral, ethical, and the aesthetic, (ii) the formal will be broadened to also include the intuitive (iii) the cognitive to (include) emotion (both rooted in primitive feeling), (iv) the symbolic to the iconic, (v) the inferential as critical and stepwise to the imaginative (in interaction so that there is no final breach of formal reason), (vi) formal demonstration to proof in living, and (vii) thought to action (and be-ing).

The development will consider received meanings of reason and related ‘functions’ and draw them together under a single umbrella that we name ‘reason’.

Reason is applied to itself—i.e., reason is ‘reflexive’. This is (i) efficient, (ii) necessary as there is no other recourse, (iii) not circular as what constitutes reason remains in process, ever expanding in scope (so far as possible). But reflexivity is not just a broad stroke application of reason to itself; rather in is the interaction among all combinations of the elements of reason (productive combinations being found in a process that, if it begins with small iterations, is not of necessity limited to the small)—both lateral (the elements of reason applied to the world) and vertical (the elements of reason applied to reason and the world).

The idea will be developed and shown how it is the means of realization. In doing so various elements of tradition or culture will be brought under and integrated into the umbrella (‘tradition’ will be understood as what is valid in what we know of all cultures over history).

Thus reason integrates not just principles of thought but also of practice and action. Reason is therefore a sufficient prerequisite to develop two adaptable templates for realization activity—an everyday and a universal template (the templates began as personal, have been honed by thought – action – improvement over time, and abstracted as well as filled out for general use).

Consequently this concept of reason is an appropriate prerequisite to those templates.

1.2       The range of the idea of reason

There are many notions on how to think, come to know, and act well—even optimally from the perspective of ‘entire Being’, which includes the rational, the ethical and valuational, and the emotional.

Some terms that come to mind—equivalents to and components of this process—are

reason, argument, rationality, thought, feeling, emotion, judgment, and valuation—ethical and aesthetic; imagination, intuition, and criticism; fact, observation, measurement, and corroboration; inference, deduction, logic, demonstration, proof, induction, science (data, law, theory, hypothesis—experiment-practice-action—valuation and revaluation of hypotheses; abduction, conductive argument (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Argument); metaphysics, foundation, analysis, system, and action

There is a plethora of terms with overlap—many analyzed and integrated in the literature but not with entire consistency and coherence and often perhaps to excess with micro-analysis. This is to be expected in an organic literature, perhaps overdone in the academic literature; but there is also a parallel motive to ‘trim the fat’ and to introduce system.

The name for the umbrella concept for these notions will be ‘reason’.

Reason begins not with a foundation or the end product of process but the present place and moment—and may then work toward foundation and superstructure.

While it may begin as incremental and corrective (learning), large and even single step achievement and final principles are not ruled out.

It posits and moves simultaneously toward foundations, ends, and ways or methods (as they are suggested in process); it corrects and improves; shared process adds to but replaces no individual (language is important for representation and communication—but not in itself fully adequate to either); it insists not on the a priori or its elimination—on possibility or impossibility of perfection—on ever being in process—or finality; but it allows all those possibilities.

The process involves entire Being—body-process-relation and its presentation as feeling, memory, perception, emotion, thought, action (with interpretation in terms of ‘physical’ vs ‘mental’ aspects)

The process is reflexive—i.e. it is naturally so over and above any intended or formal reflexivity—that is the elements are interactive; but, as understanding emerges, selectively so, and subject to meta-analysis.

1.3       The concept of reason

Reason is the best developed and developing way to know and act in the world and universe.

Foundation of reason is part of reason.

1.4       Foundation of reason

The section begins with two preliminaries—sources of reason and on patterns.

Sources of reason

To follow and develop reason will begin with immersion—and perhaps instruction—in tradition but in the end it is a living process without external foundation.

Reason and its in process foundation are immanent in the world, particularly in individuals and cultures. Reason is reflexive and involves the entire being of beings. Its purview includes action.

Reason and its foundation are not in prescriptions and formulas which are aids to memory and may be occasionally efficient substitutes for ever beginning again at the beginning.

However, it is critical and refreshing to occasionally begin at the beginning of ontological thought. And this ought perhaps to be undertaken at least once—given resources that include aptitude and inclination—by every individual and every culture.

On patterns

Patterns are what make reasoning possible. Given a pattern and some facts, other facts can be inferred. Indeed the facticity of a fact is a pattern.

If we know that the sun rises everyday for all the days that there are—the pattern—then, given that there will be a tomorrow as a fact, we know that the sun will rise tomorrow—the prediction or inference. This is a good if trivial example. A more elaborate example is given below

But what is a pattern?

A system has a pattern if the information required to specify the system with the pattern is less than without the pattern.

An example—given that the sun has risen everyday in memory, will the sun rise tomorrow? We don’t know for sure but we might say yes, probably. The justification or hypothesis would be a probable pattern of the sun rising everyday. On the other hand if we somehow knew that it was more than probable, i.e. if it were certain, we would say yes, certainly. This exemplifies patterns—though trivially.

Another example comes from Newtonian Mechanics. A typical situation is a system with initial conditions of positions and velocities (the given facts) and the laws (the pattern), the motion (the other facts) can be inferred (predicted). Without the patterns (laws) the motion could be specified only by giving entire trajectories; with the laws only the initial conditions are needed. Note that here the patterned facticity of facts is that systems are made of particles defined by mass, position, velocity, and gravity (and perhaps other forces).

Patterns enable prediction or inference.

In a universe without patterns, prediction and inference are impossible.

Foundation of reason

What enables reason? Its foundation begins with inference. Let us inquire into the foundation of inference. We will find that inference is possible only on account of the existence of patterns.

There is more than the formal inference below but what follows is the essential foundation.


1.     A first interest in reason is establishment of fact. This includes more than just direct observation of simple facts. A scientific theory is also a fact provided the domain of application is limited to the empirical domain.

Of course, the empirical domain is not just spatiotemporally limited but includes such limits as energy, speed, and size of objects.

And of course, relative to the universe at large, scientific theories are generally hypotheses. But still, a scientific theory is a fact in that the full theory would say true in its full (not just established) empirical domain and untrue elsewhere.

2.     Let’s begin with ‘direct’ establishment of simple facts. It is by observation (perception) or measurement. But since gross error (hallucination, illusion, delusion…) as well as fine error (inaccuracy) arise validation of fact is necessary.

There is more to establishment of facts than validation. Consider for example that the meaning of the simple phrase ‘the sun rises’ is different in a ‘mythic culture’ than it is today. But while this is true, we can regard ‘the sun has just risen’ as a fact that is invariant to underlying meaning, myth, interpretation, or theory.

Before continuing, let us ask what it takes for there to be facts. It is not that the sun is a Fire God rising in the East or that it is a ball of nuclear fire relative to which Earth rotates on its axis—those are explanations of the fact. What it takes for there to be the fact is that the rising sun stands out against the welter or the world. It is a simple pattern—real or experienced or both.

General approaches to validation are

(i)          Pragmatic likelihood and certainty—repeated measurement by the same and different individuals or teams using the same and different techniques (corroboration, which does not determine absolute but only pragmatic certainty). It is also pragmatic when ‘facts’ enable negotiation of the world (which too might be illusion but the notion of pragmatic include that so far, at least, this is the best we have). Note that when a measurement is verified to high accuracy, it is still pragmatic relative to perfect precision but may be regarded as perfect if specified in terms of intervals. Depending on the quality of observation, degree of validation may be pragmatic certainty or just reasonably good.

(ii)        Necessary—e.g. critique of the notion that because some error arises therefore all observation is subject to error. Here the Cartesian analysis of existence of the self—cogito ergo sum—is a model; it is generally regarded not to establish the self but the following. It establishes just that there is subjective awareness or consciousness (and thus that something exists). But note that it is thereby established that there is a world—it is at least the world whose constituent is experience.

Note again that the existence of the fact—the fact of the fact—is entailed by a pattern or, in more elaborate terms, the abstraction of oneness from the welter of detail, real or experienced or both.

From that point we can describe the world of experience and then analyze the reality of its contents (e.g. the real or external world—which contains experience itself, self with ‘mind’, other, the ‘natural world’ and so on).

How can we establish that? Here we consider only the establishment of the external world (with detail taken up elsewhere). There are various approaches but since the existence of an external world and the existence only of experience (philosophical solipsism) are logically indistinguishable, establishment is possible only on knowing something further about the world. For example we might accept the scientific world view. And a basis for that view might be—well that is all the empirical information we have and anything more is metaphysical; but to conclude from ‘that is all we have’ to ‘that is all there is’ is rank metaphysics. Or we might argue that the fact that we talk of experience means or implies that experience is both object and subject. But perhaps the experience of experience is part of the ‘object’ and there is no subject.

What then is that something further we must know about the world? And how can it not slant our conclusions? To fit that constraint—i.e. to not be slanting, it must be the most general possible knowledge of the real. In other words, with metaphysics as knowledge of the real, it must be the most general metaphysics possible.

This task is taken up in the development of the metaphysics.

3.     A second approach to establishing facts is in ‘inference’—the idea that when some facts are true, other facts are also true. Let us look at how this works

(i)          Pragmatic certainty—An example of one way begins with the assertion that the sun rises every day. To keep analysis to the essentials of what we are looking for let as grant the notions of ‘sun’, ‘rising’, and ‘days’ (as suggested earlier) for while they are not givens their givenness is not what is under question in this example. What is under question is how we infer from ‘I have observed that the sun has risen everyday of my life—even when there are clouds daylight indicates that the sun is behind the clouds’ and ‘there is a record in human culture of its rising every day observed’ to ‘the sun rises every day’.

In fact the conclusion is not warranted. That is, if I assert from ‘the sun rises everyday’ to ‘the sun will rise for the rest of my days’, the conclusion is pragmatically but not absolutely certain (if I further generalize to ‘forever’ it is at least pragmatically certainly untrue). That is because ‘the sun rises every day’ is a conclusion from observation to a universal pattern; the pattern has a domain of purchase which is not necessarily universal (even if we know barely any astronomy).

In this method of inference we have generalized from observation (sun rising when observed) to a pattern (the sun rises everyday) and from the pattern to another fact (the sun will rise tomorrow). That final conclusion is pragmatically but not absolutely certain.

This approach to inference is the approach of science—which is more complex in more complex cases but the same in principle. Within the rough domain of validity, conclusions are pragmatically certain; but they are not known to be pragmatically certain outside that domain; and based on our experience with the history of science it is likely that there is some remote region where the patterns of science break down (it is a common but tacit fallacy to assume that there is no such region).

The inferences here have to do with patterns—(a) the inductive inference from the many risings of the sun to pragmatic ‘the sun rises everyday’ and (b) from the latter to the pragmatic ‘the sun will rise tomorrow’.

(ii)        Necessity—A second example is as follows. Suppose that we are given that the sun rises every day and that there will be a tomorrow. It is then an obvious conclusion that the sun will rise tomorrow.

Why? This is really a syllogism of the kind All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore Socrates is mortal. But why is the syllogism true?

To see why generalize so as to make the form of the syllogism plain. It goes All X are Y (this could be stated in terms of properties); b is an X; therefore b is Y. The truth follows from the meanings of ‘all’ and ‘is an’: if b is an X but b is not Y then the premise All X are Y would not be true.

That is (a) the inference lies in the meanings of the terms employed (b) from the meanings, if the premise (or premises) is true, the conclusion is necessarily true, (c) that is the inference is absolutely and not just pragmatically certain, and (d) this is the type of inference that falls under deductive logic.

Here the establishment of structure is the result of patterns implicit in (a) the elementary formulas of logic, e.g. the syllogism, and (b) the axioms of a mathematical system.

4.     We have seen that while some inferences (those based on generalization) are probable (and called inductive inference), others are necessary and based on meaning.

Some questions arise.

(i)          Are there inductive inferences that are necessarily true? Consider the reason that we doubt the necessity of induction. It is that the range of observation is not the complete range of phenomena. Therefore if the range of observation is the range of phenomena, induction may be necessarily true. A toy example is a finite universe. Of course, this is not a true induction from a smaller to a larger set of data. But it is an example of a necessary inference that is about a real world and not a symbolic world of logic or mathematics.

But we can also define contexts, real and symbolic, in which though there may be a limitless number of phenomena, the number is effectively finite; here the real could be just the world and the symbolic obtained by abstraction in which what remains is sufficiently finite to know perfectly. Thus while the range of experience is enormous, that there is experience is just one fact and it therefore follows that there is a world (which is, at least, the world of experience).

The other kind of context is the symbolic—e.g. mathematics where an axiomatic formulation results in an effectively limited universe such that the conclusions are necessarily true.

(ii)        We have seen, then, that some inferences are necessary and others probable or pragmatic; and that some facts are necessarily true while others are pragmatically true. What is shown in The Way of Being is that the necessary can frame the pragmatic in such a way that (a) the necessary form an absolute and universal framework (b) the limits of a pragmatic context are a natural consequence of their constitution (c) but since each pragmatic context is limited in extension relative to all of existence the limits of knowledge regarding a pragmatic context are not of universal significance (d) our cosmos is such a pragmatic context (e) all of existence (the universe) consists in a limitless number of such pragmatic contexts and (f) it is the limitless that is the place of our being that is truly eternal but manifests as limited (the reasoning here is deferred to The Way of Being—whose shortest version is  A journey in being-brief version ).

5.     Can we still regard reason as establishment of fact. For simple facts and compound facts as in science, yes—as seen earlier. What of metaphysics? As noted above, the establishment of the metaphysics of the Way of Being will involve necessary fact and conclusion. What of logic and mathematics? These are still factual in that they involve establishment of existence of symbolic forms or structures. Once the metaphysics of the Way is established further facts will be established—the existence of objects of the symbolic forms.

6.     We’ve taken a semantic approach to simple logic. Other systems can be developed similarly. But once a system is developed, just as in mathematics, it may be seen as a formal system whose rules of construction and inference are syntactic—i.e. purely formal or rule governed. Consistency and completeness are important issues as is interpretation in terms of models. A difficult issue concerns the fact that interpretations too are syntactic.

These concerns are not currently developed here; I may develop them later.

1.5       Practice and action

Practice and action are to be distinguished yet integrated—i.e. partially distinct.

1.6       Identity of reason and the perfect metaphysics

Reason is the perfect metaphysics (in interaction with entire Being—which is implicit in the perfect metaphysics).

Consequently, it is not necessary to further develop reason here (but see the sources external and previous versions).

1.7       The means—method—of realization

Reason is the means of realization.*

Reason and Yoga; their identity*

2          The way

As reason is the means for The Way, the material of the previous chapters is prerequisite for this one.