Last night during a casual chat with a close friend, the topic about ‘thinking’ and ‘reasoning’ came up, and we ended up having a brief discussion. Maybe its the effect of Ayn Rand‘s magnum opus Atlas Shrugged that I’m reading currently, but these thoughts have been circulating in my head for quite a some time now and needed some outlet, though what I managed to express yesterday in the chat with her was just the tip of an Iceberg, so as to say.
Here’s the gist of our conversation –
Me: You know what.. ‘reasoning’ and ‘thinking’ are two of the rarest attributes in this world.
Friend: Why? What are you pointing at?
Me: I feel that there should be a logical reason to everything, and its so unfair when you meet people who refuse to think. Unfortunately it is these people who are in control of 99% of this world, from laws to religious customs and more. Why should they?
Friend: Well, they shouldn’t be, I agree, but even if they seem to do more harm than good, still sometimes I feel that they must have ‘thought’ their way to the position they are in today. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Some powerful businessmen and politicians for example. Today their ways might have become corrupt and they might enjoy the fact that they can twist the arm of the law, but they don’t mind this fact.
Me: What about concerns about social responsibility?
Friend: Yes, they might have shrugged off social responsibility in more ways than one, but they would argue that they do not have the time to think on those lines.
Me: Well then, do people really think, and then back it up with a reason? Or is it ‘follow-the-herd’ mentality? If there are 99% people like this in the world and you have to live amongst them on a level playing field, do you leave your own ‘reasoning’ in the bank’s safe deposit vault so that you don’t get frustrated carrying it around?
Friend: Well, most people neither have the time nor the inclination to think so much, or have the will to justify their actions.
Me: Oh yes.. ‘time’!
Me: Well then tell me, in Hindu marriages when a woman is sitting next to the man in front of the ritual fire, ready and prepared to be wedded to one person for life, or as they say in Christian weddings – “.. until death do us part..”, does she look at the man, and think of the gamble? Especially in the presence of all the noise around that is being created by people who are going to be mere bystanders during the highs and lows of their life?
Friend: Yes she does, she starts thinking about this gamble the very moment it’s decided that she is supposed to get married to this xyz person. Maybe the man doesn’t think so much of the gamble, but I think that the woman surely does.
Me: Okay. If yes, then aren’t there many other things in life just as important for which you have to take some time out and think? If no, then isn’t this living life in a digital form – 1 or 0 .. ?
Friend: You know how it goes, if you take time out to think about such things then it is a bonus! Most people don’t think this much in their entire lives!
Me: Why have such a large brain then? For many of the tasks that humans do today, wouldn’t a bird’s brain size or a cat’s brain size (at the max) be enough?
Me: No use of thinking, no use of memories, no use of reasoning, no use of contexts, just plain surviving!
Neither of us spoke for some time after this. Were we ‘thinking’? That’s anybody’s guess.
There was a joke I had read somewhere which said – “What would the aliens say when they land on the Earth?” I feel that they would not hesitate to call it a place of wasted minds, and move on in search of another planet.
Please feel free to voice your opinions in the comments section. I would like to add though that this chat was just the premise of something big in my mind, something that I can’t quite put into words yet. These were just opinions of two individuals, not sworn statements. I am sure you won’t get judgmental.