Some Comments on Reason and Will

Brett Graham Fawcett shared the following quotation with me: “Reason does not only consist of its logical tools and manifestations, nor does the will consist only of its deliberate conscious determinations. Far beneath the sunlit surface thronged with explicit concepts and judgments, words and expressed resolutions or movements of the will, are the sources of knowledge and creativity, of love and suprasenuous desires, hidden in the primordial translucid night of the intimate vitality of the soul.” –Jacques Maritain

I had a few comments to make on Maritain’s words, which were as follows:

(1) I have neither ‘reason’ nor intuitive phenomenological experience of anything that could be called a soul, and therefore of anything ‘hidden’ in such a thing. I only use the term ‘soul’ or ‘Spirit’ to refer to the realm of imagination within awareness. This, I do have reason and experience to believe in, however, I have no reason or intuitiveĀ sense that it is an immortal soul or anything of the kind.

(2) Reason literally is the faculty that allows us to sequence together claims into premises and conclusions. Reason can be shaped by subconscious tendencies, by conditioning, by aversions and attachments, etc., which are like the sort of substructure towards which Maritain gestures, but none of these things is properly speaking, reason.

(3) The same is true for the Will; the Will is that which orients itself towards desired objects and actions with a view to achieving them. It, too, can be shaped by the sort of factors mentioned above, but this does not mean that these are components of the Will; rather, they are the forces that shape the movements of the Will and place limits and constraints on its freedom.

(4) The sources of knowledge and creativity are sense data, meanings, people, objects and species of the universe, intuited connections, emotions, various ideas, and images and energies visualized in the imagination. Nothing in here can be said to inhere in a “soul.”

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