We cannot go through life without reasoning. Everyone reasons because everyone must. Believe it or not, when the dumbest of the dumb does something, more likely than not it’s because his mind underwent some form of reasoning.
The dumb person, however, has a peculiar way of reasoning. His reasons are almost always short and direct, and this is because he doesn’t have the capacity to reason beyond the first or first few orders of implication or causation.
Their minds are typically confined to this form of reasoning:
- I need to eat because I am hungry.
- I conclude that the aswangs are real because my cousin has seen one.
- I will try to leech off this foreigner so that I have money for myself and my family.
In the first example, the decision is “to eat” and the implication is he “will not be hungry anymore” (viewed in reverse, you can interpret this in terms of causation, the cause being “I am hungry.”)
In the second example, the conclusion is “aswangs exist” and the cause is “my cousin has seen one.”
In the third example, the decision is to “leech off this foreigner” and the implication is “I will have money.”
In all three examples, we see a first-order type of reasoning, where the decision or conclusion is directly related to a cause or implication. The person may have multiple reasons for making a decision or a conclusion, but it is always short and doesn’t reach multiple levels.
The formula for this kind of elementary reasoning is this:
- I do [A] because of [B]; or
- My conclusion is [A] because of [B]; or
- I do [A] (or conclude A) because of [B] and [C].
But a higher form of reasoning goes like this:
- I do A (or conclude A) because of B, C, D and E and so forth… where neither B,C, D nor E are necessarily direct causes or implications of A, and where B,C, D and E are negative and positive factors which I sought to consider and carefully weighed in order to come up with A.
In the Philippines, the vast majority of the population overuse the first type of reasoning (short and direct reasoning), often to the point of using it almost exclusively in their lives. It’s not so much a matter of personal preference as it is an intellectual limitation of some sort. I found out that no matter how hard you try making them appreciate a suggestion or conclusion that is based on the second type of reasoning, they just can’t and you’re wasting your time because their minds do not operate on that level. Your insights mean as much to them as plastic food is to a cat.
So a dumb Filipino may reason like this: “I’ll celebrate my birthday with eardrum-shattering karaoke all night long because it’s fun.”
“Because it’s fun” is the rationale. Notice how short it is.
If you take the place of that person, being a smarter creature you may reason like this instead: “Karaoke singing may be fun, but how about that neighbor who may need to go to bed early because of an important schedule tomorrow, or those who just want to have a good night’s sleep? If I’m in their shoes I wouldn’t want to hear this loud noise at 2am either! If I’m going to do this now, I wouldn’t have a say when it’s my turn to be disturbed by their celebration because I’m guilty of the same intrusion. And I would be setting a bad example! Besides, my integrity and relationships are at stake when people develop ill feelings toward me for causing them inconvenience. It is therefore bad not only for my neighbors but also for me and my family, so I would rather not do it. The cons clearly outweigh the pros. Anyway if fun is what I’m after, I might as well consider alternative ways to celebrate or otherwise just wrap up the karaoke singing at 9 o’clock.”
That’s the kind of long reasoning that the dumb do not do, simply because they can’t do it.
When we reason we don’t literally build sentences like the above in our mind, of course, but the points I stated more or less make up the subconscious basis of a reasonable person’s actions and beliefs.
But notice, which type or reasoning is able to arrive at a decision that brings more positive than negative effects to the doer and other people, the short one that is confined to first-order implications, or the long one? Which type of reasoning brings one closer to the truth and which one is prone to making a person reach false conclusions?
Being that long reasoning takes into careful consideration more factors (and more orders of implication) that affect a potential outcome or conclusion, it gets closer to what’s true, effective or right than short reasoning. As a general rule, albeit not one without exceptions, the longer you reason the closer you are going to arrive at something that’s true, right, beneficial or effective.
This is my first-principle explanation for why the Philippines is the way it is, and why we feel a strong disconnect with the great majority of its citizens. It’s all because they reason shorter than what a complex society requires for the right and effective things to happen. If you are married to a dumb Filipina and you wonder why you disagree on a lot of things or why she doesn’t seem to get your point no matter how hard you try to get it across, it’s because you reason one way and she reasons another way. Specifically, she reasons in a simple manner because that’s all her mind is capable of producing. You know that your decisions and conclusions are true, right and effective, but because you arrived at them by using long reasoning, that won’t connect to her because the requirement for her to realize the same thing is she needs to be able to reason the same way, which she isn’t. You might be able to get on the same page with stuff that require short reasoning, as well as a few that require long reasoning, but there are so many other pages in life that require the latter, so conflicts are bound to arise.
It’s not that we use long reasoning exclusively and the dumb use short reasoning all the time, because the fact is all of us use short reasoning in many situations, and they sometimes use longer-than-usual reasoning. But theirs is a persistent state in which short or shorter-than-required reasoning is employed in nearly every situation.
To show you what I mean, if all of someone’s lines of reasoning used in a three-hour period can be drawn using segments of reason, theirs would appear like the one on the left, and ours the one on the right:
In the dumb Filipino’s mind, many long lines of reasoning that can be considered common sense in the western world are missing. This is how it’s possible that a guy from Mindanao is able to publicly joke about a rape victim or why a guy from Cebu finds it better to use hand shears instead of a lawn mower in cutting a lawn.
One of the biggest manifestations of a short-reasoning mind is its penchant for small talk and expression of feelings – things that only require very short forms of reasoning or none at all. Check out a Filipino conversation on Facebook, Youtube or a Filipino blog and you’ll see that most of the comments are essentially substance-free, but there’s a lot of expressions of feelings like “I wish I could visit that place too,” “Tang ina mo gago,” “I loved how you described each place in detail…,” “Hahaha.”
But that’s nothing compared to the social effects of having a short-reasoning mind. Without the capacity to form long indirect lines of reasoning, it is vulnerable to developing an unprincipled human being who subconsciously goes by the ‘life principle’:
“What’s good for me are only those things that are directly good for me.”
Such an individual will dump his garbage into the river because his version of reasoning is, “I’ll dump it here (the decision) so that I’ll get rid of it conveniently (the implication/cause).” Again if you and I were to reason in that situation, it’s not going to be that short. There’s going to be factors (direct and indirect implications of the proposed action) that we’ll take into consideration that would eventually lead us into not doing it. Our version of reasoning about these types of issues is, “The things that are directly good for me are not the only things that are good for me. What’s good for others, whether in the scope of community, society or humanity, are potentially good for me too.”
For instance, I’ve talked about the Filipinos’ lack of concern for improving the local transportation system that relies heavily on jeepneys and UV Express vehicles, which provide a very stressful, long-distance ride. My thought was that the heads of the transportation agencies reason this way:
“I don’t see it as a problem. It can be an uncomfortable ride but people are used to it. Our fleet of UV Express vehicles are enough to cater to the volume of passengers. All’s running smoothly for both jeepneys and UV Express.”
My version of reasoning about it consists of lines like:
- “The more stressed the general population is, the worse our society becomes. We are affected to some degree by each other’s stress.”
- “These are workers who contribute to the economy. It’s possible that a correlation exists that the less stressed they are going to work, the more productive they’re going to be. The more productive the people are, the better our economy becomes, which is good for all of us.”
- “This problem will encourage more private vehicle ownership and we’re having this enormous traffic problem already.”
Of course, these lines of reasoning are absent in a person who only does things that benefit him directly. He is probably able to reason indirectly within the scope of his circle of friends and family, but even that can almost be considered direct as well.
Here are other examples of short reasoning:
A motorcycle rider: “I’m going to wear my helmet because a traffic enforcer is around”; “I’m not going to wear my helmet because the traffic enforcer is not around.”
A man peeing on a wall: “I’m going to pee on this wall, that way I get rid of my discomfort”; “I’m not going to pee here because this place is too exposed.”
A politician: “Let’s increase the minimum wage/the public school teachers’ pay/the policemen’s salary so that our workers have better lives.”
Many Filipinos: “I’m proud to be a Filipino.”
Now imagine gathering millions of likeminded individuals in the same place, most of whom reasoning the way I just described. What do you think will happen?
Now let me ask you. Do you think politics will change the Philippines? Do you really think the problem is “the Filipinos’ lack of will to change”? Are you dumb too?Published in