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Reasons Being 5 February 2006

Posted by EDITOR in Arts, GUESTS, Law, Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Spirituality.


Our guest contributor this week is Imran Javaid, a Virginia-based lawyer, an amateur playwright and an intermittent presence on othermatters.org.

What persuades? “Be reasonable,” a loved one says. There’s something oppressive about reason, isn’t there? “Be reasonable!”

How does the Qur’an persuade? It prods us with questions and observations begging logic we supply with its Behold!’s and Do They Not Consider!’s. It offers in God’s voice stories of men and women who talked to God. It invites recitation, and the recitation invites. It rhymes.

It does all this, with history and wisdom and beauty beside, but whence its power to compel our trust? Doesn’t its authority derive in the end from those quiet moments when we think, “This could be from God… And why not?” When two worlds appear before us: here, a plenum brimming with unsought mercy; there, vacuity. And we count ourselves, as selves, with Abraham in Abraham’s words when God comes calling: “Here I am.” (Genesis 22:1)

How often in our lives, plenum and all, we seek the lower having accepted the higher. We demand of each other mere reason when what we already have from each other is reason enough.

Why did Allen Ginsberg have to pay for groceries?

When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks? (“America”)

Why won’t Walt Whitman’s grassy glance suffice?

And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the learning of all times. (“Song of Myself”)

But I was going to say something more mundane, about how scientists and lawyers reason. How each seeks reasons in their respective lines of work, the scientist: reasons to justify experimental results; the lawyer: reasons to justify a client’s interests. How those reasons are adjudicated in different forums: the scientific journal, the court of law. How little ultimately distinguishes the two, in this regard. And art? It persuades perhaps by subtler means than science or law, appealing as it so often does to beauty, and what not. And isn’t beauty reason enough? As Ralph Waldo Emerson counseled in “The Rhodora”:

Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being.

Of what exactly do I seek to persuade you? I do not mean to persuade you of anything, except our presence, yours and mine, in this space bounded only by ourselves unbounded, here. Shall we call it knowledge, or something else? Better to leave it unnamed than to kill it with association, don’t you think? Let it live, this ineffable



1. Maryam - 6 February 2006

Yeah thanks for making me the read the entire post to end at “this is nothing” :P

Kudos to your expression though :)

2. drjou - 6 February 2006

They performed an experiment once where two professional psychologists hypnotized each other. The first one hypnotized the second and then ‘suggested’ her to hypnotize him. A third party observed what ensued.

They remained slient and stiff in their seats for a few minutes. After being un-hypnotized (by the third party, I assume) they described what they saw. They lost all notion of physicality and time. They only percieved each other, as formless entities, together in a whole other world that their minds seemed to define independently, yet mutually accept.

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