The Limits Of Reason

Reason has always seemed to me to be very limiting.

Useful but ultimately not grounded in truth, and possibly even a force to constrain life.

If there is one thing we learn from transgender it’s the limits of reason.

For a physical male to claim to be a woman is about as unreasonable as you get.

And yet, that passionate claim is the beginning of truth.

Reason needs to flow from first principles, and first principles always come down to feeling.

The need for justice in the world is not reasonable, it’s a passion.

The idea of human equality, or the right to determine one’s own life, is not a matter of reason.

Reason is necessary to flow from first principles, to make something of them, and stay focused, but it’s not the ground, nor is it really the heavens.

The Christian tradition, especially in the early centuries and the Middle Ages, saw itself as based on Right Reason.

But faith, and doctrine, (very different things) were the root.

There’s a Tarot card that shows the balance of reason and feeling.

In the famous Rider deck, the Lovers shows Adam and Eve, naked before the two trees, with an angel above them, arms outstretched, to bless them.

This alone is radical, because in the Bible story the only angel who appears is the seraph with the flaming sword to keep them from sneaking back into Eden.  but the picture contains an even more daring symbolism.

The man–Adam–looks to the woman, Eve, who looks up at the angel.

Rationality can take us only so far and then we must move through emotion and passion to reach spiritual blessing.

Contrast this with the Church’s rule that women must not speak in Church, their husbands must speak for them, because women are closer to animals, while men, supposedly more rational, are closer to angels.

Rachel Pollack, 8 August 2009

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