Tree of Life – Level 1, Lesson 5: Mind 4
Let us now take up the attribute of reasoning. We seldom think of our reasoning abilities but take too much for granted; however, tonight we hope to make plain to you some very interesting facts that will open the door to a great deal of thinking along this line.
If we divide reasoning into simple forms, we find that we reason DEDUCTIVELY and INDUCTIVELY. Life, or rather self-living, is constituted by, or embraced by the intentional or unintentional combination of these two elementary principles known as the two processes of reasoning, either in balance or with the one predominantly displayed over the other.
Therefore, we may say that self-living is the third point of the triangle. These two fundamental forms are the basis of all our reasoning, and the triangle simply expressed is: DEDUCTIVE or structural reasoning is the function of the knowing mind; INDUCTIVE or genetic reasoning is the development of the cognition; self-living or the functional reasoning of mind is the part which knowledge expresses and plays in individual life.
The subject of reasoning would be very dry and uninteresting as a study were it not for the fact that so much of our work depends upon the strange reasoning done by the subjective mind. In fact, as you will find later on, most of the remarkable occurrences of a psychic or occult nature come from the distinctive reasoning of the subjective mind.
Reasoning in general is the analytical thinking we do. Our conscious reasoning is done by the objective mind, while, on the other hand, some of our most important reasoning is done in the subjective mind. The two are clearly defined.
When we analyze a statement or thought we use our ability to reason. If I asked you what qualities or colors compose the color green, you would hold the color green before your eyes mentally and examine it.
In this analysis, your reasoning would tell you that, since green has both blue and yellow in it, it must be composed of both blue and yellow. Such reasoning is analytical.
It examines the idea or thought from every angle; it separates the idea into various parts or qualities and tries to find the cause. This reasoning leads back to the idea, the thoughts, the actions, the very principles which preceded the idea with which we started.
Now if I placed before you here on the table a very fancy cake, which had the appearance of a birthday or wedding cake, and asked each of you to step up before the cake and permit your reasoning abilities to influence your actions and thinking, there would be two things, one of which you would do.
Either you would try to eat the cake, or you would study and examine it. Now the cause of your action would be found in the reasoning you did. Therefore, we will stop and examine the two methods.
Those who would examine the cake would reason inductively: they would note the finish of the cake first and try to reason out the recipe for making and methods for finishing with the filling and icing. All materials used would be studied and from each step would the mind travel, till the one doing such reasoning would see the cake in its first stages, in its ingredients and parts. By such a process of reasoning, from effect to cause. a person could tell how the cake was made. Some can look at a prettily trimmed hat or gown and by reasoning backward tell just how the hat or gown was made.
Detectives, when called in to fathom the mystery of a crime, look upon the result — the finished deed — and by reasoning backward are able to tell just how the crime was committed; when and by whom. They go backward, step by step, to the cause, and thus have a picture of every step that leads up to the crime.
All these examples are forms of INDUCTIVE REASONING, so please write in your notebook that:
“Inductive Reasoning is progressing from results to cause, step by step, logically.”
Now those who would come up here and see the fancy cake and immediately proceed to eat it would reason deductively. Their reasoning would be as follows: “That is a fine cake; cakes are good to eat: this one was made to eat: it was made with great care so that it is especially good and palatable; I like cake and I can enjoy it by eating it; therefore, I will eat this cake.”
You can easily perceive that such reasoning is the reverse of the first form. This reasoning is done from the result forward to its ultimate end, instead of backward to the cause. It embraces no question, no analysis, no examination, but is a mere chain of subsequent actions, each a logical result of the former. This is DEDUCTIVE REASONING.
It is the kind of reasoning which a criminal may use in committing a crime. The criminal may walk into the room and see a man counting his money. He would reason somewhat as follows: “I need money. There is plenty of it. I need some or all of that, so I will take it. The man counting it is protecting it. Therefore I will get rid of the man and take the money. To get rid of the man I will kill him. To kill him I will shoot him. To shoot him I will use my revolver. I will use my revolver to shoot him in the back. He will drop to the floor. He will be unconscious. He will die. I will take the money and run. I will get out of the window through which I came. I will have the money. Persons will hear the shot and come into the house. I will be gone with the money. They will find the body….”
In this way the criminal would plan every move until the time came to reason differently. He would reason deductively: how the persons would search for him, how the police would be called in, how his fingerprints would be examined, and so forth. Consequently he would endeavor to do those things which would defeat their reasoning. This form of reasoning, reasoning deductively, is best defined in this way. So please write this in your notebook:
“Deductive Reasoning consists of logical steps forward from the primary idea to its ultimate conclusion.”
Now these are very simple definitions and definitions which our advanced students of psychology might qualify; but they will suffice to make plain to you what we mean by deductive and inductive reasoning.
When we reason over anything we wish to say or do, we reason both deductively and inductively. If we wish to take a journey to a distant city, let us say, we might reason first in a deductive manner. We would figure out what our first move should be — the amount of fare or cost of the trip, the time it should take to get there, the inconvenience of the journey, the place we should eventually reach, whom we would see there, what we would do, what would be the expense while there, when we should return, and all other little incidents of the trip.
In other words, we would make the trip mentally from start to finish, from the going to the return. This is following out the idea to its conclusion, deductively. But if we should stop to say to ourselves: “Why should I go there?” Then we would begin inductive reasoning. We would reason backward to the cause of our taking the journey.
Now let me explain what all this has to do with our work. If we reasoned deductively always, we would make many mistakes, but at the same time we would accomplish a great many things both good and bad. If we reasoned deductively only, all our acts would be like starting a railroad engine moving forward on its track without an engineer. It would follow the track regardless of all obstacles and keep going to the end of the track. Signals along the way would mean nothing to the engine since its sole aim would be to keep going on the one track to the end. It would not stop and examine signals to see whether it should take a branch track or not, for that would require inductive reasoning.
Likewise, if we reasoned inductively exclusively, we would remain inactive in the constant process of analysis, reasoning backward to the causes and questioning the causes in turn till we were lost in the fine threads of dim memory with hardly a recollection of the original effect which started the whole process.
Now God and nature have given us the ability to reason by all methods as a protection in order that we may progress or go forward, and by means of our analysis of every act make no mistakes. Yes, God and nature have given us the ability to reason in order that we may make no mistakes. But it is evident that mistakes are made, and each can ask the other, “Why?” — Yes, WHY do we make these mistakes when we have such reasoning abilities? And if our reason is valid, what must be the relation of the knowing consciousness to the object or experience known?
Logicians and scientists have concluded from observation that logic is either valid or invalid, and they have tried to find and state the definite standard to which thinking must conform in order that it may be valid; but are they not taking the effect, as usual, of the things or results caused, as their premise, instead of going back to the effect, in fact back of the cause, and reaching or arriving at an understanding of the principles of the causes themselves which produce the effects the principles of God and nature — in order that they may the more nearly approach the pure form of thought? It is too easy to begin with the created instead of the pure principles of creation, which have been neglected and lost to most of us through the past ages, because of our attempted separation from the Cosmic Mind and the development of our selfish purposes.
Syllogistic reasoning based upon the two fundamental reasonings mentioned, is the form of general reason employed by most of us. It is based upon a premise, a statement, and a conclusion. This form of reasoning is found in the axiom expressed in the exact science of mathematics, that two things equal to the same thing are equal to each other. Thus it is seen that it is difficult to go astray in the conclusions, provided our premise is based on the truth and our statement is exact. However, we are all a little careless in the acceptance of our premise, and with such a beginning it is little wonder that we arrive at so few valid conclusions. For instance, the form of syllogistic reasoning is expressed in the following statement:
“Stones sink in water. This thing is a stone. This thing sinks in water.”
How simple this reasoning seems and how true, to all appearances. But supposing this thing we were using was a piece of porous pumice stone; it is a piece of stone, but when it is placed in water, we find that it floats. What is wrong? It is our premise that stones sink in water. We might go a little further and show conditions where few stones would sink with any great speed in water. For instance, if the water is frozen, we may call it ice, but it is still of the chemical composition of water and though stones, heavier than water, or rather heavier than ice, would sink in it, this motion would be so small as to be almost negligible. We have said, “stones heavier than water and heavier than ice,” and herein we begin to see that we accepted as a premise an assumption based upon several observations but hardly based upon any laws. Our premises are usually plain assumptions and hardly based upon facts at all, or more often probably related to facts only dimly. We must get back to the principles, laws, and proportions of all manifestations in order to perceive and explain the exact premise of truth.
Thus we see that the weakness or strength of deductive reasoning is in the premise. In the process there will be no mistake. The weakness or strength of inductive reasoning is in the process.
Our formal system of logic which has changed but slightly with the centuries, was first introduced by the great philosopher, Aristotle. He said that ideas or conclusions were higher forms of thought in comparison to the sense perceptions of experiences from which they arose. In other words, he meant that an idea or conclusion is a complete form and arises from the combination of two lesser impressions or thoughts.
These lesser thoughts may be complete by themselves, but in comparison to the thought, idea or conclusion which arises from them they are incomplete. For instance, a syllogism is composed of three propositions. The first two propositions are called premises, and the third coming from the first two is the conclusion.
The premises are major and minor, and they have a common middle term. This common middle term forms the basis for a conclusion and after furnishing the logical connection between the other two, disappears. For example:
“No finite being is exempt from error;
All Men are finite beings;
Therefore no man is exempt from error.”
The major premise we see is that no finite being is exempt from error. The minor premise is that men are finite beings. We have here two thoughts. What is the middle term or connection? It is that finite beings can err. What is the new idea, thought or conclusion that arises from that middle term? It is that since man is finite, and finite things err, so then does man. All logical and formal reasoning is done according to this method. You should practice this remarkable system.