Animal rationale

Aristotle (and, later, the Schoolmen) defined man as a rational animal: i.e., the only animal capable of reason. Neither he nor anyone else claimed that men are always rational.

Reason is a technique that we learn; it is no more innate to us than riding a bicycle. If I say that one can get from John o’ Groats to Land’s End by bicycle, the truth of that statement is not altered by the fact that some people will fall off the bicycle on the way, or take a wrong turning; or that some have never learnt to ride at all. Mutatis mutandis, the capacity of reason, as a method, to reach valid consequents given valid premises, is in no way vitiated or impugned by the fact that humans make errors in employing it. Indeed, it is only by the correct application of reason that such faults can even be identified as errors.

More shortly put, it isn’t the hammer’s fault if the carpenter hits his thumb.

Speak Your Mind