THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 483, August 31, 2008
"Freedom is the basic necessity of life"
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
Poor Mr. Spock!! While from time to time his superior Vulcan intellect or physical abilities get busted out to solve a problem his commitment to reason and logic are frequently used as a foil for the argument that intuition and the heart are superior to reason and the head.
This of course is typical Hollywood. Emotion is superior to reason, intuition to logic. We must all become more right brained. I'm here to tell you this is a crock. As a left handed, right brained, intuitive thinker I am more than aware of the limitations of intuition. I frequently make intuitive leaps to a correct idea that I have to go back and prove logically. More important, when I make a mistake I have difficulty finding the flaw in my reasoning to correct it. I have to keep reminding myself of the difference between postulate and axiom, unproven hypothesis and proven theory. I am frightened by the number of people who do not recognize these differences, at least not in their own thinking
This is especially important in the struggle for liberty. It is intuitively obvious that I must be free, have the right to express what I consider the truth in political and religious matters, arm myself for self defense. However, emotion and intuition suggest that you are a misguided heretic and traitor to the republic who shouldn't be allowed to carry a nail file unless you agree with me. Of course, empathy is an emotion, but this just let's me know that you are dumb enough to really believe the garbage you are spouting.
Thus before 1600 or so when people spoke of religious freedom they really meant that the government should stop persecuting their sect and get down to denying the rights of other sects. I am proclaiming the truth, let me talk and shut up the liars by force. Free Scotland, and let all good Scots cross the border to conquer Northumbria!
Then the Age of Reason began. The idea of applying reason to form hypotheses and experimentation to test if they were correct spread. People accepted that until ideas were experimentally proven there is no way to prove which are true and which aren't. There is no logical proof which religion is the truth, which nationality deserves more freedom than others. Lacking empirical proof otherwise, it is equally valid to be Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican Calvinist, or whatever. There is no logical reason to prevent people from practicing or proclaiming their truth even if they disagreed with you.
People finally realized that they could not claim freedom until they extended that same freedom to others. To claim differently was to admit that force, not evidence, proved the truth.
Logically the only way to assure my right to be Catholic is to admit your right to be Baptist and vice versa. It is reasonable that if I can arbitrarily stripped of my rights so can you, so therefor to protect your freedom you must help me protect mine. Not surprisingly John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin belonged to the milieau that valued logic and reason, and Hitler, Franco, and the New Age gang reject reason for intuition, logic for emotion. It is not surprising that those who created modern democracy and libertarianism value reason, and that those who value emotion and intuition above all are willing to accept tyranny.
I am not disparaging intuition, it is a good way to know the truth and react quickly in an emergency. It's how we fall in love, for example. But reason let's us learn the truth when the limits of intuition are reached. It let's us know if we can make the person we love happy and if we should stay together or walk away before we cause someone grief.
More importantly from the point of view of the readers of TLE, intuition let's me know that I want freedom. However, it is logic that let's me realize that to protect my freedom I must help you defend yours. Intuition makes us want love and freedom. Logic shows us how to make them work. One without the other is meaningless, but for too much of history (including the present time) logic has been rejected for intuition, reason for emotionalism, with predictable results.
Let's hear it for Mr. Spock!!