The Voluntary Life: 246 Thinking Rationally Part 4: Listener Feedback On Faith Versus Reason

15 May 2016

246 Thinking Rationally Part 4: Listener Feedback On Faith Versus Reason


So far, the Thinking Rationally series has generated more listener feedback than any of my previous episodes! In this episode, I respond to feedback on the topic of faith versus reason. Here are the questions covered:

  • Can reason be accommodated within religious faith?
  • Don't we all live by some kind of faith, anyway?
  • Do I argue that we are "nothing more than matter in motion"?
  • Did I present a fair history of Christianity?

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 246




1 comment:

  1. Hi Jake,

    In your future Thinking Rationally podcasts, I'd encourage you to think more about how rationality might fit into the bigger question of how to live well. What role does rationality play in the good life? Is it possible to live well without rationality? Is it possible to live well with rationality as foremost priority? How should reason and passions/desires be balanced against one another?

    You may look to Socrates to support your general thesis that reason/rationality is enviable and desirable and maybe even necessary for the good life. (Socrates is a hero of mine too.) You may not know that, at the end of his life, Socrates told his followers he had a recurring dream telling him to "make and cultivate music." He wasn't sure what the dream meant, but maybe it was telling him that rationality is not enough and that sometimes we should pay homage to the wilder gods of our nature.

    More recently, Wittgenstein compellingly made some pretty scathing critiques about our ability to be rational given the limits of language. A favorite quote: "To the man who is lost in love, what will help him? An explanation?"

    Here's the thing. I'm heady/analytical to a fault (as I suspect you might be too), and while I believe reason has a useful if not essential role to play in our pursuit of the good life, I think it's badly misguided to *commit* (your word) to rationality as if it were a primary virtue. It doesn't seem very constructive, for example, to think rationally about dancing or love. Wisdom, courage, kindness, attention, self-mastery... these are the flavor of things that I believe ultimately matter, and it seems to me that things can go badly wrong if they are neglected in favor of cold logic.

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