An idea that is popular, especially in Generation X, is that reason is “the higher function.”
Response: Prove it. Use that higher function of yours for something productive. Design an engine. Write a program. Invent something.
I can reason well enough. But I do not believe that there is such a thing as a higher function. I believe that all functions are there for a reason.
And I know for a fact that the best results are achieved not by using one or the other function at the expense of all others, but by being conversant in all of them.
Reason, by itself, leads to coldness, cruelty and out-of-touch ineffectuality. Feeling, by itself, leads to mindlessness and self-absorption. But when you know how to do both, you have a use of two modalities that check each other's capacity to do wrong and can synthesize to produce wisdom faster – and fuller – than through either acting alone.
The people who only observe a social phenomenon have no idea of how it is experienced by the participants. This gets them rightfully accused of coldness, arrogance and uninformed judgmentalism. The people who only experience a social phenomenon have no idea of how it impacts upon the rest of the world. This gets them rightfully accused of ignorance. But a person who both observes and experiences has an integrative perspective that understands both the experience and its external effects.
In my life, this has translated into experiencing a variety of lifestyles, cultures and mindsets, as well as making sense of all of them. I have done this with mathematics, with literature, with software, with economics, with psychology, with tutoring and menial labor, with mysticism and the esoteric. I have done this with Communism, with liberalism, with Objectivism, with Buddhism, Christianity and the New Age. I have done this with Russia, with different parts of America, with both Melbourne and Queensland. In my relationships, I empathized with a number of very different women and adopted their concerns as my own. I experience something first; I make sense of it later. I continue to do so with all sorts of mentalities every day.
When I attended the Burningman festival in Nevada, the festival's organizers invited the media covering the event to participate in it. A gen-X friend of mine said that this undermined their objectivity. No; it gave them a more complete understanding of the event. They had the perspective of observation; they also had the perspective of the experience. That way they could write a much more insightful analysis than through either experience or observation acting alone.
This integrative mentality has applications in all sorts of endeavors, from business to journalism to politics to psychology to culture. A person who's been in business will understand other businessmen a lot better than would a person with no such experience; but if he only has an experience of business he has no idea how his activities are experienced by his workers or by the rest of the country. A person who's been raised in Texas will understand other Texans a lot better than would a person who hasn't been raised there; but if he only has their perspective he will not know how Texas is experienced by people in England, Mexico or New York. Merely observational perspective lacks empathy, and merely experiential perspective lacks objectivity. When both are combined, we have the full picture.
The process is not easy – not at all easy. It requires suspension of disbelief both from one's education and from each successive mentality. This can lead to being regarded a traitor or a whore; it can also lead to confusion, even in some cases insanity. These are all intermediate stages. The final outcome is this: Wisdom.
Wisdom that then makes it possible to understand both the experience of each mentality and its effects on their environment and negotiate informed, peaceful solutions that work for each side.
This can be a way in which peace that works for all sides can be practically implemented. Combining both the understanding of the experience and the reality of its effects on other people, a person possessing an integrative perspective can reach both and advocate to both for either while also confronting each side where they are in the wrong. Neither mere observation nor mere experience can accomplish this; both will be equally prejudiced. But when you have both, you can understand both and put into place workable solutions.
Academia, media, politics, business and Hollywood all stand to gain a lot from this methodology. As indeed can any number of people in the world.