In the last blog, we determined we humans have infinite choices but we are so limited in having all the information we need to make those choices.  So how can we make the correct decisions if we do not have all the facts available to us; how do we decide what to do?  Decision-making in life is a lot like flying an airplane.  When pilots face a potentially dangerous situation in the air, they cannot pull over to a corner of the sky, stop, and contemplate what to do.  They must deal with that problem as it occurs and as they are moving.  When people are faced with a decision, they cannot put that decision on hold while they or a philosopher or a scientist determines a method of dealing with the problem.  That might take centuries or it might never occur.  In making decisions, people must draw on whatever they have on hand. [1]  This seems like a very strange state of affairs.  People are constantly making decisions based on incomplete and inaccurate information.  There must be something more to decision making that we do not recognize.

Philosophers for ages have argued about what it is that directs human activity, what it is that is the leading element of human experience.  They have discussed a tension between logic and the heart, between the objective and subjective, between the classic and romantic, between technology and humanistic forms.  Trueblood offers a solution:

While faith alone easily becomes self-deluding, reason alone is sterile, because reason requires something on which to work.  It would be idle to develop the reasons of the head if there did not already exist the reasons of the heart.  What is required, then, is a beneficent tension in which the conflict between the two is never wholly overcome.  As long as we are in the status of finite creatures the tension is never wholly resolved, but it may be an essentially productive tension. [2]

Bertrand Russell agrees with Trueblood and concludes that reasons of the heart (intuition as he calls it) are the elements that lead human experience.

Instinct, intuition, or insight is what first leads to the beliefs which subsequent reason confirms or confutes; but the confirmation, where it is possible, consists, in the last analysis, of agreement with other beliefs no less instinctive.  Reason is a harmonizing, controlling force rather than a creative one.  Even in the most purely logical realm, it is insight that first arrives at what is new. [3]

Trueblood and Russell’s observation that we develop reasons of the heart before we even think about developing reasons of logic.  However as all of us are aware, our heart is not infallible either.  How can we make the right decisions if all our guides are fallible?  There must be more to decision making which we will discuss next week.


[1]   E. F. Schumacher,  A Guide for the Perplexed (New York:  Harper & Row, 1977), p. 6.

[2]   David Elton Trueblood, Philosophy of Religion (New York:  Harper & Row, 1957), p. 21.

[3]   Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic (New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, 1929), p. 13.

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