Is reason free as a bird? Well, first birds are not that free, and reason springs from brain organization, something that biochemistry built.
Old wisdom: there is reason, and then there is its opposite, its enemy, irrationality. New wisdom: reason is context dependent and context is hormonally determined.
In turn, hormones are dependent upon cognitive environment…
(Nietzsche already wrote people thought with their stomach:”a spirit is more similar to a stomach”. A general mood already found in Napoleon’s writings:”an army marches on its stomach”.)
Indeed, there are the hormones everybody has heard of, but less noticed are neurohormones, more recently discovered. Neurohormones double as neurotransmitters. Dependent upon hormonal, and neurohormonal activity, part of the brain gets active (at least that’s my hypothesis). So what? So, mental inertia. Reason does not remain a question of logic as found in logic text books, but also a question of chemical logic, and vast inertia, as sub-organs within the brain gets active, or asleep: a sub-organ will develop according to activity (say posterior pituitary gland, versus its anterior part: they secrete different neurohormones!)
Tied up with that concept of chemical machines as the factories of reason within the brain, is psycho-rigidity, also called by me “mental inertia”.
A practical example: many anti-Trumpists revel in hatred at this point. Differently from other activists such as Islamists, anti-abortionists, neoconservatives, etc., they are unfamiliar with hatred, they are accustomed to it, and they really love it. After a few months of this, they may find it addictive, and pursue it by sheer mental inertia.
Reason is not just about building neuronal connections, it’s about building chemical factories within the brain. Factories are infrastructure: they don’t go up, or down, easily.
So, if one wants to become a superior mind, not cannot just cultivate one’s logic and facts carefully, and hope for the best. To reach the highest and best reason, one also has to manage which experiences, emotions, or types of emotions one engages in, and one has engaged in, carefully: emotions and experiences build up the brain, one just cognitively, logically, but in its very chemical infrastructure, and what one has the propensity to engage in, like, love, or detest. Mental imprinting, even apparently distant imprinting, even apparently distant imprinting of one’s feelings, impacts one’s subsequent capability to generate superior reason.
So one cannot just think about a subject, roll-out the Socratic method, and get it right. One has first to be in the appropriate mood. Socrates did not know this, and that’s why he ended up drinking hemlock, after 501 members of the jury found “he had corrupted the youth” (Socrates’ students and lovers imposed dictatorship and various lethal mishaps upon Athens, and it was widely considered that Socrates taught his students, many more than 40 years younger than him, in a way which was not appropriate; Athens lost her empire, and half her population in the war…)
Speaking of Socrates, indeed, the philosopher was widely viewed, at the time, as “anti-demos”. Still, Socrates is always, apparently always very logical. So how could Socrates be both very logical, and very wrong? Simple. Socrates was chemically disposed against the total democracy instituted by Pericles (and his top philosopher friends and lovers) which made Athens a lasting jewel for civilization. Thus he rolled out plenty of very logical logic against democracy.
The brouhaha against the Trump order against immigrants from seven countries gave several examples of a similar type. Obama’s spokesman said: “With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,”
Motivated by a mood of cheap vengeance, (but I can understand the motivation of jumping in at the first occasion,) and with the advantage of getting in the interventionist mindset (which I advocated). Also wrong in several ways: first Trump said it was not “anti-Muslim” (there too, the occasion was too good to show everybody who the boss was… while rushing US Army tanks to the Baltics, to help sober up Putin in advance of NATO deployment in Spring).
Second, and more importantly, we DO discriminate against faiths or religions: more than 99.9% of historical faiths and religions are outlawed in Republics such as the USA or France (and their many parrots around). Did you try a human sacrifice, Gallic, Punic, or Aztec style recently? Or eat someone, Polynesian style, as happened when the esteemed Captain Cook got cooked in Hawai’i? No. Not really: it’s not our taste anymore. A question of stomach, in more way than one.
This means that we do discriminate against individuals who would insist on bringing back those faiths or religions. And why? Because such faith and individuals promoting them are incompatible with Republican law.
That is exactly the case of those faiths and individuals promoting “Sharia”, the so-called “Muslim law”, which is incompatible with Republican law. If we get in a mood of compromise, there, we will hurt, fatally in the long run, the Republic. With Sharia, the proper mood for the Republic is not tolerance, but abrogation and retribution against its unlawful promoters.
I will give another example soon of chemistry ruling reason: Sartre, De Beauvoir and other “existentialists” being all too existential, namely ruled by a mood all too sympathetic too pleasing to those who have the biggest stick around, and above. Those had a mood of submission (as Obama did), a brain chemically made for submission, not rebellion (whereas Camus did, and so did most real resistance fighters).
Any logic, logical textbooks will reveal, is bounded by the universe in which it is applied. Alternative facts will call on a different universe, thus a different logic. And those universes are chemically dependent.
I don’t believe in the multiverse as a foundation for physics. However, the multiverse is a fact, for reason itself. And those various universes are made from alternative facts and chemistry.
How we feel, how we felt, implies how we think, and will think. I think, therefore, I am in some universe, somewhere. Reason is not the end-all, be-all. And one of the reasons for the lack of reason, beyond emotion, is that logic itself is not one: consider the Incompleteness Theorems in metamathematics. Beyond those, modern logic has been demonstrated to be pretty much anything we want. And we want what feels good.
Reason has its reason that only the heart knows.