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Opinions of the human reason said out by experts of diverse countries and epochs

Posted by Dr. Uladzimir TRATSIAKOU as Lecture 13 at Free School for Panoramic Thinking

The father of Yury Ryashentsev, of that very poet what created a hit for “The Three Musketeers” film:

Let us, let us be joyful
whilst we all are alive

– when his infant Yurik found difficulty in replying or didn't know how to behave gave him device “Take it more widely!”

This recommendation might be considered as enveloping a significant part of methodological means for us to think better - when “more widely” is understood directly, - and envelops all possible in general – if it is understood with taking into account not only the widened base of concrete thinking process, but as well presupposes self-controlling thinking for us not to admit distortions of the thought because of pragmatic considerations or emotional subjectivism.

This text is destined rather for to widen directly our mental view how human reason was understood and evaluated by people having had great experience of using their reason.

May the world be saved by the reason ?

“By reason” means that in result of its thinking activity a strategy of survival has arisen what being realized is able to carry out humankind onto the path of sustainable and progressive development. It applies as well that all threats and challenges were until aware. We may however be in doubt of it, as wordy cautions about threats are frequently ignored by people.

That such the course of events is not only possible but even very likeable, confirms popular sayings: “Things will turn out all right somehow!”, “Two deaths won't happen, one isn't escaped”, as well as wide distribution of by-trial-and-error method. The last means that people firstly do something and then elucidate why it should not be done at no circumstances. It remains for elucidating already to those who remain alive.

Such general trend had been noticed as back as near 2.5 thousand years by Democritus: “Not words but unhappiness is the teacher of fools” .

Turning to our reality, i.e. to the civilization being until now able to cope with the threatening global problems and to stand onto the path of sustainable development. I apply here the imminent catastrophes problem what is unless challenged. It hardly will be realized as a challenge soon. It means that no systemic, aiming-directed shifts in social consciousness and societal settlement proceed until these warnings “say out” with all their cruel persuasiveness -- in the “language” of catastrophes, disasters, wars and terrorist attacks. But there is circulus vitious (vicious circle): for us to begin counteracting, catastrophes are “needed”; but when these come, for those who remain alive (maybe few), much more emergent affairs having dictated by cruel post-catastrophe reality will not admit to think of future and realize any all-planet project of civilization salvation.

Thus, let us have heard opinions of creative people of past and last centuries about the human reason and its possibilities in order to know is our chance to save ourselves big.

Imaginary round table on problem of the reason

Within this School, it is presupposed as an axiom on failure to mention, that not the beauty will save the world, but rather the beauty of the human thought generated by the human reason having got more perfect in result of an intentional, conscious evolution.
But why then, knowing Blaise Pascal dictum: “Nothing is more in agreement with the reason as its distrust to itself”, not to get interested in others' opinions? Especially interesting for us are a priori opinions of the very authoritative experts, i.e. great and talented creators. My task is only not to make a mess and ask them questions of big importance for the essence of the human reason to be grasped. Let experts-sages speak different languages and belong to not only different centuries but even different eras (B.C. and A.D.) – that may not be a obstacle to carry out this “round table” as it is imagined.

Well, I ask respectful experts to say out on key questions linked with mind, reason, intellect.

– What is the part taken by the reason in the life of an individual and a society?

Pythagoras . – It is only reason, as a wise trustee, whom should entrust all the life in.
Heraclitus . – The wisdom consists in the only: to recognize the reason as something what govern all with help of all.
Shakespeare . – If there were not the reason, we would be overridden by sensuality. The mind is to bridle its absurdity.
Leo Tolstoy . – If reason doesn't point you at your place in the world and your destination, then know that is guilty of not bad the world's arrangement nor of your reason, but wrong direction you gave it.
– If people didn't have the reason, they might not distinct good and bad, might not seek for truth blessing and possess it.

– What are faults of the reason and how it might be perfected?

Pascal . – I surprise the most that people are not astonished at their reasoning's feebleness.
La Rochefoucauld . – Our reason, by its laziness and inertness, is occupied usually only with that is for it easily and nicely; this custom limits our cognitions, and nobody took the trouble to enrich and widen own reason up to limits of the possible. Our reason is lazier than the body.
– Obstinacy is born because of limited ness of our reason: we believe reluctantly that is out of our horizon's limits.
– To be wise in alien affairs is many easier than in own ones.
Labruere . – It's easier to meet people having the mind than ability to apply it at affairs, estimate another's mind and find it useful application.
Shakespeare. – There is no place for jokes/At mind that is not sharp <the original quotation needs here>.
Pascal . – All our dignity consists in the thought . Not the space nor the time, what we may not to fill up, ennoble us, but just it, our thought. Let us then learn to think good: here is the main principle of the morality.
Horace . – Dare to be wise !
Cicero . – Not enough to be possessed of the wisdom, it needs to know how to use it.
Helvetius . – One ought to deepen one's mind, but not to widen, to gather, like inflammatory glass focusing, all heat and all light of one's mind in the single point.
Vauvenargue . – That are liveliness and pliancy what may be attached to the mind, as well as to the body; it needs for this to train the former, as the latter is trained.
Descartes . – Not enough to have good mind. The main is to use it rightly.
Brecht . – The very main is to have taught a human to think.
Goethe . – A strong mind pursuing practical goals is the best mind in the world.
Montaigne . – It is very useful to sharpen and polish one's mind with minds of others.

– How do Reason and a happy life correlate?

Sophocles . – Reason is without doubt the first condition for the happiness.
Dostoyevsky . – Not the mind is the main, but what aims it, – nature, heart, noble features, development.
Griboyedov. – Grief because of the mind.
Publius Ovidius. – The reason abandons first those who unhappy.
Titus Plautus. – Wise person self forges own happiness.
Kant. – Happiness is an ideal not of mind but of imagination.

– Which virtues are characteristic for the human reason?

Aristotle . – The mind consists not only in knowledge, but also in ability to apply the knowledge to affairs.
Anaxagoras . – All things had been lumped together; then it was the reason that came and put them in the order.
Leo Tolstoy . – Destination of the reason is opening the truth, and that is why a great and pernicious delusion is using the reason to hide or pervert the truth.
Kant . – The reason is an ability to see connection between general and partial things.
Hegel . – The very serious need is the need to cognate the truth.
Bruno . – An ability of an alive mind is that it is needed a little to see and hear that it then might to consider a long time and understand a lot.
La Rochefoucauld . – A distinctive feature of great mind is to say many in some words.
Leo Tolstoy . – Don't think that the wisdom is a property of outstanding people only. Wisdom is necessary for all people and them is characteristic of all people. Wisdom is to know our destination and means to fulfill it.
Vauvenargue. – It is the heart that prompts us the very high thoughts.

– Does Human Reason give us any causes for historic optimism?

Vauvenargue. – There are fools less than it is considered: people don't merely understand each other.
Bacon . – Human reason is greed . It can't stop nor be at the rest, it endeavors all farther.
Leo Tolstoy . – There are not such situations and such insignificant affairs, where the wisdom might not reveal itself.
– Every human may and should use all what has worked out joint reason of humankind, but together may and should check by the reason those truths elaborated earlier living people.
France . – Don't consider yourself uninvited guest at the feast of wises. Occupy there the place in store for you . And then, tête-à-tête with beautiful works of poets, scientists, artists, historians of all centuries and peoples, you can evaluate correctly your abilities, and your eyes will open new, wide, unknown horizons.

First inferences

General evaluation of the reason. The distinguished experts agreed about a high score of the reason's role, considering that one's own life may only be entrusted to it ( Pythagoras ), that it governs all ( Heraclitus ), that without it nobody might govern self (Shakespeare) and that any wisdom has everybody (L. Tolstoy).

Virtues of the reason. Reason gets to use the knowledge in deed (Aristotle), to put things in order ( Anaxagoras ), to open the truth (L. Tolstoy), to set links between general and particular (Kant), to satisfy a need to cognize the truth (Hegel), to consider and understand (Bruno), to formulate thoughts clearly ( La Rochefoucauld ), at that especially significant ones – at prompt of the heart (Vauvenargue).

Faults of the reason: few self-criticism (Pascal), laziness, inertness and limitedness ( La Rochefoucauld ), a weak expressed thinking process (Pascal, Vauvenargue, Brecht, Goethe, La Rochefoucauld ), insufficient aliveness and pliancy (Vauvenargue), little ability to use itself (Cicero, Descartes, Labruere), low sensitiveness revealed in undeveloped sense of humor (Shakespeare).

Directions to bettering. It needs to think good (Pascal), to master a wisdom (Horace) and to learn use it (Cicero), to deepen the mind ( Helvetius ), to attach to the mind aliveness and pliancy ( Vauvenargue ), to teach / learn to think and use the mind rightly (Descartes, Brecht, Goethe), to juxtapose the mind own with others' minds (Montaigne).

Correlation between reason and happiness. Clever human being may be happy (Sophocles), but wise human gets happy ( Titus Plautus ); the mind may bring unhappiness (Griboyedov), unhappy people are unreasonable ( Publius Ovidius ), there is something what is more important than the reason: that direct it (Dostoyevsky), happiness is an ideal not the reason but the imagination (Kant).

About historical optimism. There are not so much fools ( Vauvenargue ), the reason is aiming to new (Bacon), a wisdom may reveal itself even at insignificant affairs (L. Tolstoy), everybody may find own place at feast of wises (France).

Thus, here is the generalized opinion of the wises living for 25 centuries about the human reason: all depends of the reason, but it is not without faults being however possible to be overcome with teaching and learning.

The expert Luc de Clapier de Vauvenargue (France) drew attention all distantly presenting experts of different epochs to wideness of the mind:

"There is nothing more favoring judgment and perspicacity than the wideness of the mind. On my opinion, it is nothing just splendid capacity of organs of the thought to acquire many ideas simultaneously, not muddling one with other.

Wide mind considers different essences in their interrelations; in single sight envelops a subject with all its branches; carries out the lasts to common origin and centre, and then explores from the single point of view. It, at the end, highlights many the very important questions and vast domain.

It is impossible to be a genius without wideness of the mind, but one may possess it being not genius, as that are different things: a genius is active and productive; wide mind frequently limits itself considerations, it cool, lazy and timid.

Every know that wideness of the mind much depends on the seal that usually transfers it its own boundaries or moves them apart depending on forces applied".

30 year old Luc d å Vauvenargue shows in this excerpt the same quality of wide mind, what he described already 2.5 centuries ago. I experienced big gratification having read this “agitation for the panoramic thinking”, moreover that my conception of PT was formed 1.5 decade before I saw this Vauvenargue's text.

The author of bright dictum “Les grandes pensées viennent du coeur” (Great thoughts issue from the heart) was highly estimated by Voltaire who said “Not self suspecting, he (i.e. Vauvenargue. – V. Ò .) drew his portrait”. Imho, what is more, in this short aphorism he was able to express humane principle of creative, socially significant thinking, joining scientific correctness with humane direction. Such thinking, of course, has the explicit panoramic character.

P.S. Helvetius, proposing to deepen the mind, not widen, appears at first glance an opponent of my thesis on development of PT. But let's take into account that “to gather …all heat and all light of one's mind in the single point” is possible only after you are sufficiently widely thinking and do not miss something important. Just because of it mind's “deepening” depends on how you had managed to widen your mind for previous period of your life. Thus, Helvetius' thought needs only little correction: “One ought to deepen one's mind, not only to widen…” ( farther the same ).

In other words about the same. If a scientist or merely thinker hits upon a deep thought being known nobody, then that or this widens in result the panorama not only of their minds. It means juxtaposition wideness—deepness within conception of panoramic thinking is not correct as in the space of notions there is no difference in which direction your mind's panorama widens, in wideness or deepness.

P.P.S. “ The Grief Because of the Mind ” is the title of well-known poem by Alexander Griboyedov, where its main hero, clever Chatsky, was forced to leave capital beau monde because of being not understood there. He is evidently clever, the poem's hero, as his sayings and remarks almost 2 centuries entered in cultural practice of Russian language people. It was published even a literary critical study (Vissarion Belinsky) where was proved that Chatsky was not at all clever if demonstrated his mind before fools of the beau monde. But more convincing is an explanation that Chatsky as an youth under 20 years old, having returned in the homeland after long absence, got merely joy at intercourse with familiar people in the mother tongue, that is why such the behavior. Btw, the first title given by the author was “The grief to the Mind”, i.e. to a concrete clever (though not yet wise) man. Thus, Griboyedov, this wise writer, didn't make a blunder with his hero, and of course he was not that who strived for to humiliate the human reason.



Copyright © IntelTech—V.N.Tretyakov (U.M.Tratsiakou). The present information is intellectual property of the author's site, who would be interested in knowing any usage of his materials. [email protected]

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