the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic, and adapting or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information
(Redirected from Reasonableness)

Reason involves the ability to think, understand and draw conclusions in an abstract way, as in human thinking. The meanings of the word "reason" overlap to a large extent those of "rationality."

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  • There is no just cause for apprehending that we shall be misled by the proper exercise of reason on any subject which may be proposed for our consideration. The only danger is of making an improper use of this faculty, which is one of the most common faults to which our nature is liable. Most men profess that they are guided by reason in forming their opinions; but if this were really the case, the world would not be overrun with error; there would not be so many absurd and dangerous opinions propagated and pertinaciously defended.
    • Archibald Alexander, Evidences of the Authenticity, Inspiration and Canonical Authority of the Holy Scriptures (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1836), Ch. I: The Right Use of Reason in Religion, p. 11
  • Reason may be employed in two ways to establish a point: firstly, for the purpose of furnishing sufficient proof of some principle, as in natural science, where sufficient proof can be brought to show that the movement of the heavens is always of uniform velocity. Reason is employed in another way, not as furnishing a sufficient proof of a principle, but as confirming an already established principle, by showing the congruity of its results, as in astrology the theory of eccentrics and epicycles is considered as established, because thereby the sensible appearances of the heavenly movements can be explained; not, however, as if this proof were sufficient, forasmuch as some other theory might explain them.
  • Reason in man is rather like God in the world.
  • I think I am justified — though where so many hours have been spent in convincing myself that I am right, is there not some reason to fear I may be wrong?
  • …He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; it is as if he would catch his people in a trap. My people are going to learn the principles of democracy, the dictates of truth and the teachings of science. Superstition must go. Let them worship as they will; every man can follow his own conscience, provided it does not interfere with sane reason or bid him against the liberty of his fellow-men.
    • Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as quoted in Atatürk: The Biography of the founder of Modern Turkey, by Andrew Mango; "In a book published in 1928, Grace Ellison quotes [Atatürk], presumably in 1926-27", Grace Ellison Turkey Today (London: Hutchinson, 1928)
  • I do not leave any verses, dogmas, nor any moulded standard principles as moral heritage. My moral heritage is science and reason. What I have done and intended to do for the Turkish nation lies in that. Anyone willing to appropriate my ideas for themselves after me will be my moral inheritors provided they would approve the guidance of science and reason on this axis.
    • Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as quoted in Kemalist Devrim ve İdeolojisi (1980) by İsmet Giritli, İstanbul Üniversitesi Yayınları, p. 13
Reason is Life's sole arbiter, the magic Laby'rinth's single clue. ~ Richard Francis Burton
  • Reason is omnivorous; it does not pasture exclusively in scientific fields.
  • Reason is like a runner who doesn't know that the race is over, or, like Penelope, constantly undoing what it creates.... It is better suited to pulling things down than to building them up, and better at discovering what things are not, than what they are.
    • Pierre Bayle, Reply to the Questions of a Provincial (Réponse aux questions d'un provincial, 1703). Quoted in Elisabeth Labrousse, Bayle, trans. Denys Potts (Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 61.
  • Il n'est pas nécessaire de tenir les choses pour en raisonner.
    • It is not necessary to retain facts that we may reason concerning them.
    • Pierre de Beaumarchais, Barbier de Séville (1773), V. 4.
  • Reason cannot remain a bare intellectual faculty; it must become a faculty of judgment dealing with the question of values.
    • Margaret Benson, The Venture of Rational Faith (London: Macmillan and Co., 1908), p. 224.
  • RATIONAL, adj. Devoid of all delusions save those of observation, experience and reflection.
  • REASON, v.i. To weight probabilities in the scales of desire.
  • REASON, n. Propensitate of prejudice.
  • La felicité de l'homme consiste a vivre selon la raison.
    • Human happiness consists in living according to reason.
    • Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Pensées chretiens et morales (1704), in Œuvres complétes de Bossuet, ed. F. Lachat (Paris: Louis Vivès, 1863), Vol. XXXIII, p. 626.
  • Example has more followers than reason. We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and insensibly approximate to the characters we most admire. In this way, a generous habit of thought and of action carries with it an incalculable influence.
  • If we would guide by the light of reason, we must let our minds be bold.
    • Louis Brandeis, New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, 285 U.S. 262 (1932) (dissenting).
  • Pure Reason left to herself
    relieth on axioms and essential premises
    which she can neither question nor resolve.
  • We should not in the field of Reason look to find
    less vary and veer than elsewhere in the flux of Life.
  • Pagan philosophers set up reason as the sole guide of life, of wisdom and conduct; but Christian philosophy demands of us that we surrender our reason to the Holy Spirit; and this means that we no longer live for ourselves, but that Christ lives and reigns within us (Rom 12:1; Eph 4:23; Gal 2:20).
    • John Calvin Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life, Page 27
  • All great men are gifted with intuition. They know without reasoning or analysis, what they need to know.
    • Alexis Carrel, quoted in M. B. Raja Rao, Nava-Vēda: God and Man (Nara and Narayan) (1968‎) p. 229.
  • A rational, moral being cannot, without infinite wrong, be converted into a mere instrument of others’ gratification. He is necessarily an end, not a means. A mind, in which are sown the seeds of wisdom, disinterestedness, firmness of purpose, and piety, is worth more than all the outward material interests of a world. It exists for itself, for its own perfection, and must not be enslaved to its own or others’ animal wants.
  • Man has been endowed with reason, with the power to create, so that he can add to what he's been given. But up to now he hasn't been a creator, only a destroyer. Forests keep disappearing, rivers dry up, wild life's become extinct, the climate's ruined and the land grows poorer and uglier every day.
  • Within the brain's most secret cells
    A certain Lord Chief Justice dwells
    Of sovereign power, whom one and all
    With common voice, we Reason call.
  • True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions.
    • Cicero, De Re Publica, Book 3, Chapter 22.
  • To me the entire uselessness of such rules as practical guides lies in the inherent vagueness of the word "reasonable," the absolute impossibility of finding a definite standard, to be expressed in language, for the fairness and the reason of mankind, even of Judges. The reason and fairness of one man is manifestly no rule for the reason and fairness of another, and it is an awkward, but as far as I see, an inevitable consequence of the rule, that in every case where the decision of a Judge is overruled, who does or does not stop a case on the ground that there is, or is not, reasonable evidence for reasonable |men, those who overrule him say, by implication, that in the case before them, the Judge who is overruled is out of the pale of reasonable men.
    • John Duke Coleridge, Dublin, &c. Rail. Co. v. Slattery (1878), L. R. 3 App. Ca. 1197; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 218.
  • Water cannot rise higher than its source, neither can human reason. Now, all reasoning respecting transcendent truths must have its source where the truths or ideas themselves originate.
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Notes appended to the third edition of Southey's Life of Wesley, reported in Charles Prest, The Witness of the Holy Spirit (1867), p. 18.
  • Religion passes out of the ken of reason only where the eye of reason has reached its own horizon; faith is then but its continuation, even as the day softens away into the sweet twilight; and twilight, hushed and breathless, steals into the darkness.
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria: Or, Biographical Sketches of My Literary Life and Opinions (1817), p. 302.
  • Peace rules the day, where reason rules the mind.
    • William Collins, Persian Eclogues (London: J. Roberts, 1742), Eclogue the Second, p. 13.
  • We think only through the medium of words.—Languages are true analytical methods.—Algebra, which is adapted to its purpose in every species of expression, in the most simple, most exact, and best manner possible, is at the same time a language and an analytical method.—The art of reasoning is nothing more than a language well arranged.
  • Reason has built the modern world. It is a precious but also a fragile thing, which can be corroded by apparently harmless irrationality. We must favor verifiable evidence over private feeling. Otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth.
  • In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice.
  • [T]he power of forming a good judgment and of distinguishing the true from the false, which is properly speaking what is called Good sense or Reason, is by nature equal in all men.
    • René Descartes, Discourse on Method, as quoted in Descartes' Philosphical Writings Vol. 1 (1911) ed., Elizabeth Haldane, G. R. T. Ross: Discourse on Method, p. 6.
  • I want now to glance for a moment at the development of the theoretical method, and while doing so especially to observe the relation of pure theory to the totality of the data of experience. Here is the eternal antithesis of the two inseparable constituents of human knowledge, Experience and Reason, within the sphere of physics. We honour ancient Greece as the cradle of western science. She for the first time created the intellectual miracle of a logical system, the assertions of which followed one from another with such rigor that not one of the demonstrated propositions admitted of the slightest doubt—Euclid's geometry. This marvellous accomplishment of reason gave to the human spirit the confidence it needed for its future achievements. ...But yet the time was not ripe for a science that could comprehend reality, was not ripe until a second elementary truth had been realized, which only became the common property of philosophers after Kepler and Galileo. Pure logical thinking can give us no knowledge whatsoever of the world of experience; all knowledge about reality begins with experience and terminates in it.
  • Two angels guide
    The path of man, both aged and yet young,
    As angels are, ripening through endless years,
    On one he leans: some call her Memory,
    And some Tradition; and her voice is sweet,
    With deep mysterious accords: the other,
    Floating above, holds down a lamp which streams
    A light divine and searching on the earth,
    Compelling eyes and footsteps. Memory yields,
    Yet clings with loving check, and shines anew,
    Reflecting all the rays of that bright lamp
    Our angel Reason holds. We had not walked
    But for Tradition; we walk evermore
    To higher paths by brightening Reason's lamp.
  • Knowest thou what kind of speck you art in comparison with the Universe?—That is, with respect to the body; since with respect to Reason, thou art not inferior to the Gods, nor less than they. For the greatness of Reason is not measured by length or height, but by the resolves of the mind. Place then thy happiness in that wherein thou art equal to the Gods.
    • Epictetus, (ca. 55-135 AD) Golden Sayings of Epictetus #33.
  • One who knows not who he is and to what end he was born; what kind of world this is and with whom he is associated therein; one who cannot distinguish Good and Evil, Beauty and Foulness,... Truth and Falsehood, will never follow Reason in shaping his desires and impulses and repulsions, nor yet in assent, denial, or suspension of judgment; but will in one word go about deaf and blind, thinking himself to be somewhat, when he is in truth of no account. Is there anything new in all this? Is not this ignorance the cause of all the mistakes and mischances of men since the human race began?
    • Epictetus, (ca. 55-135 AD) Golden Sayings of Epictetus #81.
  • Study how to give as one that is sick: that thou mayest hereafter give as one that is whole. Fast; drink water only; abstain altogether from desire, that thou mayest hereafter confirm thy desire to Reason.
    • Epictetus, (ca. 55-135 AD) Golden Sayings of Epictetus #101.
  • A wise man, who puts himself under the government of reason, will be able to receive an injury with calmness, and to treat the person who committed it with lenity; for he will rank injuries among the casual events of life, and will prudently reflect that he can no more stop the natural current of human passions, than he can curb the stormy winds.
    • Epicurus, as quoted in Ancient and Modern Celebrated Freethinkers (Half-Hours with the Freethinkers) by Charles Bradlaugh, A. Collins, and J. Watts (1877)
  • Auctoritas siquidem ex vera ratione processit, ratio vero nequaquam ex auctoritate. Omnis enim auctoritas, quae vera ratione non approbatur, infirma videtur esse. Vera autem ratio, quum virtutibus suis rata atque immutabilis munitur, nullius auctoritatis adstipulatione roborari indigent.
    • For authority proceeds from true reason, but reason certainly does not proceed from authority. For every authority which is not upheld by true reason is seen to be weak, whereas true reason is kept firm and immutable by her own powers and does not require to be confirmed by the assent of any authority.
    • Johannes Scotus Eriugena (815 – c. 877) De Divisione Naturae, Bk. 1, ch. 69; translation by I. P. Sheldon-Williams, cited from Peter Dronke (ed.) A History of Twelfth-Century Western Philosophy (Cambridge: CUP, 1988) p. 2.
  • Copernicanism and other "rational" views exist today only because reason was overruled at some time in their past. (The opposite is also true: witchcraft and other "irrational" views had ceased to be influential only because reason was overruled at some time in their past.)
  • If reason is to be realized in the sensuous world, it must be possible for many rational beings to live together as such; and this is permanently possible only if each free being makes it its law to limit its own freedom by the conception of the freedom of all others. For each free being having the physical power to check or destroy the freedom of other free beings, and being dependent in its free actions only upon its will; it is only when all free beings have voluntarily made it their law (rule of action) never so to check the freedom of all others that a community of free beings becomes possible, wherein such a check never occurs.
    • The Science of Rights 1796 by, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, 1762-1814; Kroeger, Adolph Ernest, 1837-1882, tr Publication date 1889P. 137
  • Polished steel will not shine in the dark; no more can reason, however refined, shine efficaciously, but as it reflects the light of Divine truth—shed from heaven.
    • John Foster, "Extracts from Mr. Foster's Journal", in The Life and Correspondence of John Foster, ed. J. E. Ryland (London: Henry J. Bohn, 1852), Vol. I, p. 53.
  • To say that madness is dazzlement is to say that the madman sees the day, the same day that rational men see, as both live in the same light, but that when looking at that very light, nothing else and nothing in it, he sees it as nothing but emptiness, night and nothingness. Darkness for him is another way of seeing the day. Which means that in looking at the night and the nothingness of the night, he does not see at all. And that in the belief that he sees, he allows the fantasies of his imagination and the people of his nights to come to him as realities. For that reason, delirium and dazzlement exist in a relation that is the essence of madness, just as truth and clarity, in their fundamental relation, are constitutive of classical reason.
    In that sense, the Cartesian progression of doubt is clearly the great exorcism of madness. Descartes closes his eyes and ears the better to see the true light of the essential day, thereby ensuring that he will not suffer the dazzlement of the mad, who open their eyes and only see night, and not seeing at all, believe that they see things when they imagine them. In the uniform clarity of his closed senses, Descartes has broken with all possible fascination, and if he sees, he knows he really sees what he is seeing. Whereas in the madman’s gaze, drunk on the light that is night, images rise up and multiply, beyond any possible self-criticism, since the madman sees them, but irremediably separated from being, since the madman sees nothing.
    Unreason is to reason as dazzlement is to daylight.
    • Michel Foucault, History of Madness (1961), Part Two: 2. The Transcendence of Delirium
  • The Way to see by Faith, is to shut the Eye of Reason:
    The Morning Daylight appears plainer when you put out your Candle.
The sleep of reason produces monsters. ~ Goya
  • Does being situated within traditions really mean being subject to prejudices and limited in one's freedom? Is not, rather, all human existence, even the freest, limited and qualified in various ways? If this is true, the idea of an absolute reason is not a possibility for historical humanity. Reason exists for us only in concrete historical terms—i.e., it is not its own master but remains constantly dependent on the given circumstances in which it operates.
    • Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method (Wahrheit und Methode, 1960). Second revised edition, translated by Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall ( New York: Continuum, 1993), p. 276.
  • The light of reason ever gleams on the margin of an unmeasured and immeasurable ocean of mystery; and however far we push our discoveries, the line of light only moves on, and has infinite and unfathomable darkness beyond it.
    • Henry Giles, "Mystery in Religion and in Life", in Christian Thought on Life (Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1851), p. 267.
  • The language of reason unaccompanied by kindness will often fail of making an impression. It has no effect on the understanding, because i touches not the heart. The language of kindness unassociated with reason will frequently be unable to persuade: because though it may gain upon the affections, it wants that which is necessary to convince the judgement. But let reason and kindness be united in your discourse; and seldom will even pride or prejudice find it easy to resist.
    • Thomas Gisborne, Sermons, Vol. I (London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1802), Sermon XI. On the Character of Naaman, pp. 240–1.
  • A reasonable fine is such as the law will judge to be so . . . but what a reasonable fine is, and who shall be the judge of it, the law has established no rule.
    • Lord Hardwicke, Moore's Case (1736), 17 How. St. Tr. 914; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 218.
  • Reason is a religious duty and quality of the mind; and exercise of the judgment upon all occasions and subjects is true and most divine worship.
    • Cora Hatch, “The Religion of Life,” Discourses on Religion, Morals, Philosophy and Metaphysics (1858).
  • Like other traditions, the tradition of reason is learnt, not innate. It too lies between instinct and reason; and the question of the real reasonableness and truth of this tradition of proclaimed reason and truth must now also scrupulously be examined.
    • Friedrich Hayek, The Fatal Conceit (1988), Ch. 4: The Revolt of Instinct and Reason
  • Those may justly be reckoned void of understanding that do not bless and praise God; nor do men ever rightly use their reason till they begin to be religious, nor live as men till they live to the glory of God. As reason is the substratum or subject of religion (so that creatures which have no reason are not capable of religion), so religion is the crown and glory of reason, and we have our reason in vain, and shall one day wish we had never had it, if we do not glorify God with it.
    • Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. IV. Isaiah to Malachi, Section on Daniel 4:34-37.
  • When the dictators of today appeal to reason, they mean that they possess the most tanks. They were rational enough to build them; others should be rational enough to yield to them.
    • Max Horkheimer, “The End of Reason,” The Essential Frankfurt School Reader (1982), p. 28
  • The more the concept of reason becomes emasculated, the more easily it lends itself to ideological manipulation and to propagation of even the most blatant lies. … Subjective reason conforms to anything.
  • Reason quite properly rejects contradiction.
  • We must ...cultivate true metaphysics with some care, in order to destroy the false and adulterate. ...Accurate and just reasoning... is alone able to subvert that abstruse philosophy and metaphysical jargon, which being mixed up with popular superstition, renders it in a manner impenetrable to careless reasoners, and gives it the air of science and wisdom.
  • While we [philosophers] study with attention the vanity of life... we are, perhaps, all the while flattering our natural indolence, which, hating the bustle of the world, and drudgery of business, seeks a pretense of reason to give itself a full and uncontrolled indulgence.
    • David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) Ch.V, Part I.
  • Nature will always maintain her rights, and prevail in the end over any abstract reasoning whatsoever.
    • David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) Ch.V, Part I.
  • All inferences from experience... are effects of custom, not of reasoning.
    • David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) Ch.V, Part I.
  • No conclusions can be more agreeable to scepticism than such as make discoveries concerning the weakness and narrow limits of human reason and capacity.
    • David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) Ch.VII, Part II.
  • There is no method of reasoning more common, and yet none more blamable, than, in philosophical disputes, to endeavor the refutation of any hypothesis, by a pretense of its dangerous consequences to religion and morality.
    • David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) Ch.VIII, Part II.
  • Nature must have provided some other principle, of more ready, and more general use and application; nor can an operation of such immense consequence in life, as that of inferring effects from causes, be trusted to the uncertain process of reasoning and argumentation.
  • The experimental reasoning itself, which we possess in common with beasts, and on which the whole conduct of life depends, is nothing but a species of instinct or mechanical power, that acts in us unknown to ourselves.
    • David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) Ch.IX.
  • Besides that the ordinary course of nature may convince us, that almost everything is regulated by principles and maxims very different from ours; besides this, I say, it must evidently appear contrary to all rules of analogy, to reason from the intentions and projects of men, to those of a Being so different and so much superior.
    • David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) Ch.XI.
  • The Cartesian doubt... were it ever possible to be attained by any human creature (as it plainly is not) would be entirely incurable; and no reasoning could ever bring us to a state of assurance and conviction upon any subject.
    • David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) Ch.XII, Part I.
  • There is a degree of doubt, and caution, and modesty, which, in all kinds of scrutiny and decision, ought for ever to accompany a just reasoner.
    • David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) Ch.XII, Part III.
  • If we reason a priori, anything may appear able to produce anything.
    • David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) Ch.XII, Part III.
  • If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
  • ¡Qué bien se ve que eran Sabios
    en confesarse rendidos,
    que es triunfo el obedecer
    de la razón el dominio!
    • How clear it is they were wise,
      when they conceded their defeat,
      for it is an achievement to have bowed
      to the supremacy of reason!
    • Juana Inés de la Cruz "Villancico a Catarina," translated from the Spanish by Kate Flores in The Defiant Muse: Hispanic Feminist Poems (1986)
  • Neither in deductive nor inductive reasoning can we add a tittle to our implicit knowledge, which is like that contained in an unread book or a sealed letter. ...Reasoning explicates or brings to conscious possession what was before unconscious. It does not create, nor does it destroy, but it transmutes and throws the same matter into a new form.
  • I beheld with reverent dread, and highly marvelling in the sight and in the feeling of the sweet accord, that our Reason is in God; understanding that it is the highest gift that we have received; and it is grounded in nature.
  • There is a gossipy reasoning which in its endlessness bears about the same relation to the result as the interminable line of Egyptian monarchs bears to the historical value of their reigns.
  • Ask whatever questions you please, but do not ask me for reasons. A young woman may be forgiven for not being able to give reasons, since they say she lives in her feelings. Not so with me. I generally have so many reasons, and most often such mutually contradictory reasons, that for this reason it is impossible for me to give reasons. There seems to be something wrong with cause and effect also, that they do not rightly hang together. Tremendous and powerful causes sometimes produce small and unimpressive effects, sometimes none at all; then again it happens that a brisk little cause produces a colossal effect.
  • You reason too much; all young people are so fond of reasons, as if reasons were of any use. … It is your duty to write what will sell, and I tell you reasons are unmarketable commodities.
  • Rationality is very much connected with the tradition in science for the last 300 years, when you're going to end up with some sort of understandable explanation of something. And I would be disappointed if that were the case.
  • We must trust to nothing but facts: These are presented to us by Nature, and cannot deceive. We ought, in every instance, to submit our reasoning to the test of experiment, and never to search for truth but by the natural road of experiment and observation.
  • I take it that reasonable human conduct is part of the ordinary course of things.
    • Nathaniel Lindley, Baron Lindley, L.J., "The City of Lincoln" (1889), L. R. 15 P. D. 18; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 218.
  • Here is the manliness of manhood, that a man has a reason for what he does, and has a will in doing it.
    • Alexander Maclaren, Sermons Preached in Manchester: First Series (London: Macmillan and Co., 1871), Sermon XXII: "The Choice of Wisdom", p. 296.
  • What are we, weak and blind human beings! And what is that flickering light we call Reason? When we have calculated all the probabilities, questioned history, satisfied every doubt and special interest, we may still embrace only a deceptive shadow rather than the truth.
  • Ratio omnia vincit.
  • Reason ... contradicts the established order of men and things on behalf of existing societal forces that reveal the irrational character of this order—for “rational” is a mode of thought and action which is geared to reduce ignorance, destruction, brutality, and oppression.
  • Now some of the scribes were there, sitting and reasoning in their hearts: “Why is this man talking this way? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins except one, God?” But immediately Jesus discerned by his spirit that they were reasoning that way among themselves, so he said to them: “Why are you reasoning these things in your hearts?
  • Reason can no longer restrain one who is lured by the fury of ambition.
    • Karl Marx, Reflections of a Youth on Choosing an Occupation (1835), Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, L. Easton, trans. (1967), p. 36.
  • In capitalist society however where social reason always asserts itself only post festum great disturbances may and must constantly occur.
  • Let reason count the stars, weigh the mountains, fathom the depths — the employment becomes her, and the success is glorious. But when the question is, " How shall man be just with God?" reason must be silent, revelation must speak; and he who will not hear it assimilates himself to the first deist, Cain; he may not kill a brother, he certainly destroys himself.
    • Henry Melvill, "The General Resurrection and Judgment" (February 1837), in Sermons, ed. C. P. M'Ilvaine, (New York: Swords, Stanford, & Co., 1838), p. 399.
  • But all was false and hollow; though his tongue
    Dropt manna, and could make the worse appear
    The better reason, to perplex and dash
    Maturest counsels.
  • Subdue
    By force, who reason for their law refuse,
    Right reason for their law.
  • Mais la raison n'est pas ce qui règle l'amour.
    • But it is not reason that governs love.
    • Molière, Le Misanthrope (1666), I, 1.
  • La parfaite raison fuit toute extremité,
    Et veut que l'on soit sage avec sobriètè.
    • All extremes does perfect reason flee,
      And wishes to be wise quite soberly.
    • Molière, Le Misanthrope (1666), I, 1.
  • A man always has two reasons for what he does—a good one, and the real one.
    • Attributed to J. Pierpont Morgan in Owen Wister, Roosevelt: The Story of a Friendship (1930), p. 280.
A long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason. ~ Thomas Paine
To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture. ~ Thomas Paine
  • A long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.
  • To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.
  • All reasoning ends in an appeal to self-evidence.
  • Say first, of God above or man below,
    What can we reason but from what we know?
  • Reason, however able, cool at best,
    Cares not for service, or but serves when prest,
    Stays till we call, and then not often near.
  • Who reasons wisely is not therefore wise;
    His pride in reasoning, not in acting lies.
  • Reason can discover
    Things only near; sees nothing that's above her.
    • Francis Quarles, Divine Fancies (1632), Book III, § 54: "On Faith and Reason"
  • As soon as an object is regarded as a dynamic entity, then analysis and definition become both difficult and unsatisfactory. Thinking is under such circumstances well-nigh impossible for most people. To think at all logically, no matter how concretistic the thought may be, there must be some static point. Where, now are we to look for this point? The man of action answers, in its effect. Then an object becomes completely separated... from all other objective elements as well as from the perceiving self. ...Reality, in other words, is pragmatic. ...Like all other philosophers, he [the thinker, as opposed to the man of action] is... aware of the movement and the shifting form of things. He is as much impressed by this as the man of action. But the world must first be static and objects must first take on a permanent or, at least, a stable form before one can deal with them systematically. ...The attempts of these primitive thinkers are embodied in numerous creation myths... the task is always the same—an original, moving, shapeless or undifferentiated world must be brought to rest and given stable form. ...There exist, however, many things that manifestly do not have permanence of form and do look different at different times. Philosophers have always given the same answer to this problem and predicated a unity behind these changing aspects and forms.
  • Reason cannot save us, nothing can; but reason can mitigate the cruelty of living.
    • Philip Rieff, Freud: The Mind of the Moralist, 3rd edition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), Preface, p. xii. First published 1959.
  • Surely the romantic and now permanent revolution against the ancient regime of reason is against a regime largely invented by the revolutionaries themselves.
    • Philip Rieff, Freud: The Mind of the Moralist, 3rd edition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), Ch. 4: "The Tactics of Interpretation", § VI, p. 146.
  • La raison est historienne, mais les passions sont actrices.
    • Reason is a historian, but the passions are actors.
    • Antoine de Rivarol, Maximes et pensées, anecdotes, et bons mots, in Œuvres choisies (Paris: Libraire des bibliophiles, 1880), Vol. I, p. 237.
  • Were I (who to my cost already am
    One of those strange, prodigious creatures, man)
    A spirit free to choose, for my own share,
    What case of flesh and blood I pleased to wear,
    I'd be a dog, a monkey, or a bear,
    Or anything but that vain animal,
    Who is so proud of being rational.
    The senses are too gross; and he'll contrive
    A sixth to contradict the other five;
    And before certain instinct will prefer
    Reason, which fifty times for one does err;
    Reason, an ignis fatuus of the mind,
    Which, leaving light of nature, sense, behind,
    Pathless and dangerous wandering ways it takes,
    Through error's fenny bogs and thorny brakes;
    Whilst the misguided follower climbs with pain
    Mountains of whimseys, heaped in his own brain.
  • Then old age and experience, hand in hand,
    Lead him to death, make him to understand,
    After a search so painful and so long,
    That all his life he has been in the wrong.
    Huddled in dirt the reasoning engine lies,
    Who was so proud, so witty, and so wise.
  • Our sphere of action is life's happiness,
    And he that thinks beyond thinks like an ass.
    Thus, whilst against false reasoning I inveigh,
    I own right reason, which I would obey:
    That reason which distinguishes by sense
    And gives us rules of good and ill from thence,
    That bounds desires, with a reforming will
    To keep 'em more in vigour, not to kill.
    Your reason hinders, mine helps to enjoy,
    Renewing appetites yours would destroy.
  • There is no point on which a greater amount of decision is to be found in Courts of law and equity than as to what is reasonable; for instance, reasonable time, reasonable notice, and the like. It is impossible a priori to state what is reasonable in such cases. You must have the particular facts of each case established before you can ascertain what is meant by reasonable time, notice, and the like.
    • Lord Romilly, M.R., Labouchere v. Dawson (1872), L. R. 13 Eq. Ca. 325; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 218.
  • Man is a rational animal – so at least I have been told. Throughout a long life, I have looked diligently for evidence in favor of this statement, but so far I have not had the good fortune to come across it, though I have searched in many countries spread over three continents.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. ~ George Bernard Shaw
  • My reason is now all to me—my only warrant for God, virtue, and immortality. Woe to me if I catch this, my only witness, in a contradiction! if my esteem for its conclusions diminishes! if a broken vessel in my brain diverts its action! My happiness is henceforth intrusted to the harmonious action of my sensorium: woe to me if the strings of this instrument give a false note in the critical moments of my life—if my convictions vary with my pulsations!
  • Those who follow the banners of Reason are like the well-disciplined battalion, which, wearing a more sober uniform, and making a less dazzling show, than the light troops commanded by imagination, enjoy more safety, and even more honour, in the conflicts of human life.
  • Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,
    Looking before and after, gave us not
    That capability and god-like reason
    To fust in us unus'd.
  • Give you a reason on compulsion! if reasons were as plentiful as blackberries, I would give no man a reason upon compulsion, I.
  • But since the affairs of men rest still incertain,
    Let's reason with the worst that may befall.
  • His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff; you shall seek all day ere you find them; and when you have them, they are not worth the search.
  • The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
  • What a return do we make for those blessings we have received! and how disrespectfully do we treat the gospel of Christ to which we owe that clear light both of reason and of nature which we now enjoy, when we endeavor to set up reason and nature in opposition to it! Ought the withered hand, which Christ has restored and made whole, to be lifted up against Him?
    • Thomas Sherlock, "Discourse on John II: 67–69", in The Works of Bishop Sherlock, ed. T. S. Hughes (London: A. J. Valpy, 1830), p. 16
  • According to Blanchette and Campbell (2012), ―deductive reasoning in particular has often been seen as a hallmark of human intelligence and of the potential for logical thinking (159). Deductive reasoning consists of the method in which inference is constructed logically through valid conclusions from a set of premises (Wassertheil-Smoller & Smoller, 2015). The process of deductive reasoning consists of drawing a conclusion that is based on multiple arguments that are commonly presumed to be truthful or legitimate. Through deductive reasoning, individuals assume that the set of premises are truthful, and consequently, the conclusions that arise from these valid premises must in turn, produce legitimate truthful conclusions (Walton, 1990). According to Heit and Rotello (2010), deductive reasoning is ―more heavily influenced by slower analytic processes that encompass more deliberative, and typically more accurate, reasoning (805). Individuals who use deductive reasoning adopt rules,properties, and facts to reach a conclusion. Deductive reasoning starts out with a general premise, or hypothesis, and explores the possibilities to draw a particular, logical conclusion.
  • As with the research on deductive reasoning, research on inductive reasoning shows that affect impacts an individual‘s ability to inductively reason (Evans et al., 1993). For example, research shows that positive moods have been shown to promote imagination, ingenuity, creative and integrative thinking (Isen et al., 1985; Isen et al., 1987; Salovey et al., 1993), increase working memory load (Seibert & Ellis, 1991), enhance the ability to interpret information and increase cognitive flexibility (Isen & Daubman, 1984; Isen, 1999), and increase performance on a number of cognitive tasks (Ashby & Isen, 1999; Isen, 1999). Negative moods have been shown to decrease accuracy of judgment, deteriorate cognitive processing, and diminish decision making (Palfai & Salovey, 1993; Channon & Baker, 1994; Oaksford, Morris, Graigner, &Williams, 1996; Goel & Dolan, 2003; Blanchette & Richards, 2004; Blanchette, 2006). Again, as with deductive reasoning, conflicting results have also been found.
  • Though reason is not to be relied upon as a guide universally sufficient to direct us what to do, yet it is generally to be relied upon and obeyed when it tells us what we are not to do.
    • Robert South, "Of the Nature and Measures of Conscience" (Sermon preached at Christ Church, Oxford, November 1, 1691), in Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions (Philadelphia: Sorin & Ball, 1844), Vol. I, p. 374.
  • Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired.
    • Jonathan Swift, "Letter to a Young Gentleman, Lately Enter’d Into Holy Orders by a Person of Quality" (1721)
  • A man demonstrates his rationality, not by a commitment to fixed ideas, stereotyped procedures, or immutable concepts, but by the manner in which, and the occasions on which, he changes those ideas, procedures, and concepts.
    • Stephen Toulmin, Human Understanding (1972) Vol. 1 The Collective Use and Evolution of Concepts, epigraph.
  • When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself.
  • To ingenious attempts at explaining by the light of reason things which want the light of history to show their meaning, much of the learned nonsense of the world has indeed been due.
  • Reason, sometimes, seems to me to be the faculty our soul possesses of understanding nothing about our body!
    • Paul Valéry, Dance and the Soul (1921), in Dialogues (Bollingen Series XLV 4/ Princeton University Press, 1989), translated by William McCausland Stewart, p. 46. The speaker is Eryximachus, a physician.
  • Most people in reasoning, dear Phaedrus, use notions that not only are "ready-made," but have actually been made by nobody. No one is responsible for them, and so they serve every one badly.
    • Paul Valéry, Eupalinos, or The Architect (1921), in Dialogues (Bollingen Series XLV 4/Princeton University Press, 1989), translated by William McCausland Stewart, p. 137. The speaker is Socrates.
Search out the ground of your opinions, the for and the against. Know why you believe, understand what you believe, and possess a reason for the faith that is in you. ~ Frances Wright
  • Reason is the test of ridicule, and not ridicule the test of truth.
    • William Warburton, The Divine Legation of Moses Demonstrated, Volume I, Dedication to the Freethinkers (1738), 1765 edition, p. 15.
  • Reason is the glory of human nature, and one of the chief eminences whereby we are raised above our fellow-creatures, the brutes, in this lower world.
    • Isaac Watts, Logic: or The Right Use of Reason in the Inquiry after Truth (1724), Introduction.
  • Reason [no more can] ever influence the Will, and operate as a motive,… than the eyes, which show a man his road, can enable him to move from place to place; or than a ship provided with a compass, can sail without a wind.
    • Richard Whately, Elements of Rhetoric (London: John W. Parker, 1846), Part II, Ch. I, § 2, p. 180. First published 1828.
  • It must have required enormous effort for man to overcome his natural tendency to live like the animals in a continual present. Moreover, the development of rational thought actually seems to have impeded man's appreciation for the significance of time. ... Belief that the ultimate reality is timeless is deeply rooted in human thinking, and the origin of rational investigation of the world was the search for permanent factors that lie behind the ever-changing pattern of events.
  • I am not going to question your opinions. I am not going to meddle with your belief. I am not going to dictate to you mine. All that I say is, examine; enquire. Look into the nature of things. Search out the ground of your opinions, the for and the against. Know why you believe, understand what you believe, and possess a reason for the faith that is in you…
    But your spiritual teachers caution you against enquiry — tell you not to read certain books; not to listen to certain people; to beware of profane learning; to submit your reason, and to receive their doctrines for truths. Such advice renders them suspicious counsellors. By their own creed you hold your reason from their God. Go! ask them why he gave it.
    • Frances Wright, A Course of Popular Lectures (1829), Lecture III : Of the more Important Divisions and Essential Parts of Knowledge.
  • Reason progressive, Instinct is complete;
    Swift Instinct leaps; slow reason feebly climbs.
    Brutes soon their zenith reach. * * * In ages they no more
    Could know, do, covet or enjoy.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night VII, line 81.
  • And what is reason? Be she thus defined:
    Reason is upright stature in the soul.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night VII, line 1,526.
  • That which exercises reason is more excellent than that which does not exercise reason; there is nothing more excellent than the universe, therefore the universe exercises reason.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 658-59.
  • Domina omnium et regina ratio.
    • Reason is the mistress and queen of all things.
    • Cicero, Tusculanarum Disputationum, II. 21.
  • Aristophanes turns Socrates into ridicule … as making the worse appear the better reason.
  • Reasons are not like garments, the worse for wearing.
    • Earl of Essex to Lord Willoughby (Jan. 4, 1598–9).
  • Setting themselves against reason, as often as reason is against them.
    • Thomas Hobbes, Works, III, p. 91. Ed. 1839. Also in Epistle Dedicatory to Tripos, IV, XIII.
  • Hoc volo, sic jubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas.
    • I will it, I so order, let my will stand for a reason.
    • Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), VI. 223.
  • You have ravished me away by a Power I cannot resist; and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavored often "to reason against the reasons of my Love."
  • La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure.
  • To be rational is so glorious a thing, that two-legged creatures generally content themselves with the title.
  • Omnia sunt risus, sunt pulvis, et omnia nil sunt:
    Res 'hominum cunctæ, nam ratione carent.
    • All is but a jest, all dust, all not worth two peason:
      For why in man's matters is neither rime nor reason.
    • George Puttenham, Arte of English Poesie, p. 125. Attributed by him to Democritus.
  • Nam et Socrati objiciunt comici, docere eum quomodo pejorem causam meliorem faciat.
    • For comic writers charge Socrates with making the worse appear the better reason.
    • Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria, II. 17. 1.
  • On aime sans raison, et sans raison l'on hait.
  • Nihil potest esse diuturnum cui non subest ratio.
    • Nothing can be lasting when reason does not rule.
    • Quintus Curtius Rufus, De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni, IV, 14, 19.
  • Id nobis maxime nocet, quod non ad rationis lumen sed ad similitudinem aliorum vivimus.
    • This is our chief bane, that we live not according to the light of reason, but after the fashion of others.
    • Seneca the Younger, Octavia, Act II, 454.
  • While Reason drew the plan, the Heart inform'd
    The moral page and Fancy lent it grace.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

See also


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