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The Path of Reason
It has been said that all of us possess a touch of madness. And, perhaps, we do. For madness begins when we leave the domain of reason and get swept up into our passions. Of course passion can be very stimulating and tends to send us into a swirl of emotions that make life much more interesting. But when we lose the power that reason is able to give us over ourselves and our beliefs, decisions, and choices, we are often at the mercy of chance. And, at times, aspects of our lives seem outside of our control.
In Phaedrus, Plato called the mind the "pilot of the soul." He likened our soul to a pair of winged horses and made Reason the charioteer. In Plato's world, reason is what enables us to pursue the "good" - beauty, wisdom, and truth. Without Reason remaining our ruling faculty, Plato believed that it was impossible to lead a life of virtue.
Yet, in today's world, most of us are ruled by our passions, not reason. Rather than wisdom, we are inclined to pursue pleasure. And instead of accepting responsibility for ourselves and our choices, we usually blame other people or our environment. We react to life's circumstances rather than responding intelligently to its challenges. If we were able to look at ourselves and our culture as an outsider would, it would be easy to think that we have all gone a little mad.
For we have allowed our emotions and feelings to serve as our guides in our day-to-day existence, whether we are aware of it or not. We do what we feel like doing and convince ourselves it was the right thing to do. When we lose our temper or do wrong to another person, we come up with a justification for our behavior. And as long as we continue to think irrationally, we will be able to convince ourselves that this is as it should be.
But eventually, a life led by passion rather than reason ends in self-defeat. For we were made to be governed by our minds, not our passions. Yes, our feelings and emotions make us the multi-dimensional human beings that we are. Yet it is reason that enables us to be masters of ourselves. And although we may all have our moments of madness, as long as we rely on our minds to control our behavior, these moments will remain few and far between.
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