Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was a late-18th-early-19th century Spanish artist. He expressed himself primarily with brush and canvass, generally not given to public statements. Of the few attributed to him – most having to do with art – this one caught my eye: “Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters.”
The abrogation of reason can indeed lead to horrible consequences. But the critical determination either in general or in any given circumstance is: what does reason dictate, or, what is reasonable?
The various definitions of reason are something like this: “the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.” What is problematic are folk who think they understand and form judgments by a process which they deem logical, yet whose conclusions simply do not conform to or reflect reality. For example:
- Giovanni Maria Tolosani in 1545 censured the works of Copernicus, the former’s notion
that mathematics had little or nothing to do with understanding the universe.
- The fact that more pigment in a person’s skin indicates a human being of lesser intellect
and ability who is meant to serve white people is entirely logical to the KKK mindset.
- Hitler and thousands of his supporters thought it eminently reasonable to murder
millions of people simply because they were Jewish.
- Some people believe it’s okay to kill those performing abortions to support their claim
that killing is wrong.
- Etcetera, etcetera ad nauseum.
Obviously, avowed white supremacists think they are the most reasonable people on the planet. Most of the world would disagree. Who or what determines what is reasonable and what is not? The beginning of an answer is serious, intentional, responsible homework. Thinking, understanding, and forming judgments cannot rightly be accomplished with a closed-mind, closed-world attitude. Anyone can have their own opinions but not their own facts. And opinions are so often based on no facts or a misunder-standing of reality.
A second rule-of-thumb is to observe the consequence(s) of a given line of thought. For example, the 15th century Spanish Inquisition or the Holocaust. While those are grand-scale atrocities, the same principle – observing or projecting results – can be applied to everyday life.
Our world is still awash with human monsters. It is reasonable to challenge them with right thinking, and/or to control and counter their dastardly actions when necessary.