The Community of Reason KC
People in Pursuit of Understanding, Wisdom, and Praxis
We are a community of persons, based in the Kansas City Metro Area, who are lovers of truth, reason – and people.
Our by-laws state that we are “…an educational organization created to foster a community dedicated to improving the human condition through rational inquiry and creative thinking unfettered by superstition, religion, or any form of dogma. It operates in an open, democratic manner, without discrimination with respect to age, disability, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, race or sexual orientation.“
We address a wide range of topics that include issues from science,
philosophy, economics, religion, social and political realities, ecology, the environment, art and the quality of life, the individual and moral concerns.
Our members hold diverse philosophical and religious views, and will disagree in many ways. What we hold in common is a commitment to the application of reason in the pursuit of truth, beauty, social well-being, and justice in human affairs.
As a Community of Reason, we are not prone to endorse creeds or doctrines. However, we hold to some broad commitments and principles which shape our approach to topics of interest and issues of concern. We are committed to
- the practice of critical and reflective reason vis-à-vis human experience as the means to acquire understanding and to pursue solutions to human problems;
- the pursuit of social and economic justice;
- provide opportunities for the accurate presentation and assessment of information and issues without undue distortion by political ideologies or religious faith traditions;
- the protection and nurture of our natural environment (we accept climate change as a pressing social concern);
- the idea that mutual respect and care as well as a sense of cooperative and communal solidarity must undergird the welfare of whole societies;
- the priority of the poorest and most vulnerable members of society when considering changes in social and economic policy;
- democracy and the free flow of ideas and information as the best path to social betterment.
Some Highlights from Reason’s History
Socrates (c. 399 BCE): “…it is the greatest good for a man to discuss virtue every day and those other things about which you hear me conversing and testing myself and others, for the unexamined life is not worth living….” [from Plato’s Apology, tr. Grube]
Aristotle (c. 350 BCE): “It is from a feeling of wonder that men start now, and did start in the earliest times, to practice philosophy.” [from Metaphysics, tr. Creed]
John Locke (1689): “Reason, therefore, here, as contradistinguished to faith, I take to be the discovery of the certainty or probability of such propositions or truths which the mind arrives at by deduction made from such ideas, which it has got by the use of its natural faculties; viz. by sensation or reflection.” [from An Essay Concerning Human Understanding]
David Hume (1758): “Man is a reasonable being, and, as such, receives from science his proper food and nourishment. But so narrow are the bonds of human understanding that little satisfaction can be hoped for in this particular, either from the extent or security of his acquisitions. Man is a sociable no less than a reasonable being. But neither can he always enjoy company agreeable and amusing or preserve the proper relish for them. Man is also an active being, and, from that disposition as well as from the various necessities of human life, must submit to business and occupation; but the mind requires some relaxation and cannot always support its bent to care and industry. It seems, then, that nature has pointed out a mixed kind of life as most suitable to the human race….” [from An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding]
Voltaire (1767): “Reason always brings people to their senses for a few moments.” [from “Ingenuous: A True Story,” tr. Frame]
Friedrich Nietzsche (1875): “The only happiness lies in reason; all the rest of the world is dismal. The highest reason, however, I see in the work of the artist….” [from Notes of 1875, tr. Kaufmann]
Bertrand Russell (1902): “A reciprocal liberty must thus be accorded: reason cannot dictate to the world of facts, but the facts cannot restrict reason’s privilege of dealing with whatever objects its love of beauty may cause to seem worthy of consideration.” [from “The Study of Mathematics”]
John Dewey (1922): “‘Reason’ is not an antecedent force which serves as a panacea. It is a laborious achievement of habit needing to be continually worked over. A balanced arrangement of propulsive activities manifested in deliberation—namely, reason—depends upon a sensitive and proportionate emotional sensitiveness. Only a one-sided, over-specialized emotion leads to thinking of it as separate from emotion. The traditional association of justice and reason has good psychology back of it. Both imply a balanced distribution of thought and energy.” [from Human Nature and Conduct]
Jürgen Habermas (2010): “…it makes a difference whether we speak with one another or merely about one another. If we want to avoid the latter, two presuppositions must be fulfilled: the religious side must accept the authority of ‘natural’ reason as the fallible results of the institutionalized sciences and the basic principles of universalistic egalitarianism in law and morality. Conversely, secular reason may not set itself up as the judge concerning truths of faith, even though in the end it can accept as reasonable only what it can translate into its own, in principle universally accessible, discourses.” [from An Awareness of What Is Missing, tr. Cronin]
[Symbols and images in this document are in the public domain.]